Life-Saving Vaccines Reach Across the Globe from the Rockville Headquarters

An Interview with GSK’s Christopher Maddox, Director of Site Operations

MOCONNECT recently interviewed GSK’s Christopher Maddox, Director of Site Operations for The Slaoui Center for Vaccines Research in Rockville. The company made news when it selected Rockville to serve as its U.S. R&D Center, furthering strengthening Montgomery County as a major player in global healthcare.

Q: Please provide some background on the GSK global vaccine business and your new R&D center in Rockville.

A:  GSK’s vaccines business is one of the largest in the world, delivering over 2 million vaccines every day to people in more than 160 countries. Our vaccines business has a broad portfolio of 40+ pediatric, adolescent, adult, and travel vaccines that offer protection against 22 different diseases.

Our global vaccines U.S. R&D center in Rockville — officially “The Slaoui Center for Vaccines Research”— is one of three global vaccines R&D centers, complementing GSK’s existing centers in Rixensart, Belgium and Siena, Italy. We initially opened the Rockville Center in August 2015, with laboratories becoming operational in late 2016.

The Slaoui Center for Vaccines Research houses a total of 12 critical vaccine development programs. This includes projects supporting GSK’s candidate shingles vaccine, which was filed for approval with the FDA in October 2016;  R&D programs for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a major cause of respiratory infections in young children and the elderly; Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a bacterial infection affecting newborns; and dengue fever.

Q: Were other locations besides Montgomery County considered?

A: We considered several sites when we decided to bring GSK’s U.S. R&D vaccines employees together after the acquisition of Novartis Vaccines. The Rockville site, which was acquired by GSK in 2012 by Human Genome Sciences, was a great fit because it had state-of-the-art infrastructure that could easily be fit out to accommodate the size and technological capability required for our specific needs. 

Q: Why did GSK select Montgomery County?

A: Montgomery County — and Rockville in particular — is a great location due to its proximity to Washington, D.C. and our key U.S. stakeholders. Bodies such as NIH, HHS, FDA, Walter Reed Army Institute for Research (WRAIR), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) are all located in the area. This location also enables our research teams to collaborate with critical U.S. bio-scientific and policy vaccine leaders, particularly in GSK’s emerging focus in biodefense and medical counter measure innovation, as well as leaders on global health from around the world.

Q: What are the other advantages of being located in Montgomery County?

A: Montgomery County is an established and growing bioscience center that offers us great opportunities now and for the future. It is also an ideal location for collaborations with a host of well-regarded academic institutions, such as Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. It is a center of emerging talent for our research workforce, with its proximity to the Universities at Shady Grove, University of Maryland at College Park, and other centers of bioscience education and training.

Q: Any additional comments?

A: We are extremely pleased with the success of our new facility in Rockville and with Montgomery County in helping us to attract the best talent, build upon GSK’s culture, and collaborate with other key organizations in the Mid-Atlantic Region.