Blogging from BIO 6 - Don’t Wanna Cause no Fuss . . . But Will You Ride My BioBUS?

Magic BusWhile I doubt the bus tour of Cambridge, Mass. that I took last night was quite as exciting as the "Magic Bus" extolled by The Who, it was interesting to see the extent to which biotechnology, pharma and healthcare dominate the local landscape.  The friendly folks from RBJ Real Estate who narrated the tour told the 40+ participants that there are 13 million square feet worth of biotech space in Cambridge. Companies occupying that space include Viacell, Biogen Idec (their headquarters are here), Genzyme, the Whitehead Institute (the group behind the Human Genome Project), Amgen (their East Coast R&D operations), Novartis, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Immunogen, Acceleron Pharmaceuticals, Altus Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Merck. The downside of the tour was that the bus didn't actually stop to allow for closer inspection -- or even picture-taking -- of any of the facilities.  The upside (besides seeing the sights of Cambridge, which is a fabulous little city -- it's got Harvard and MIT, plus lots of history and culture; what's not to like?) was that we got two little gems of information: 1) A large building that Genzyme acquired from another biotech company to house its offices is a "green" building that carries a "platinum" designation for its eco-friendliness.  Genzyme's building uses 34% less water and its electrical costs are only 42% as much as typical office buildings.  2) Novartis occupies a building that formerly housed the manufacturing operations of the New England Confectionary Co. -- most of us who are "of a certain age" think of them as Necco, as in that inimitable candy known as "Necco wafers."  Gee, maybe Novartis and Necco should partner up to create a new kid-friendly drug delivery system . . .  Heidi Parsons, Managing Editor