GSK, a Cornerstone of Maryland’s
Life Sciences Ecosystem
Since opening in 2016, GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines research and development center in Rockville has become a cornerstone of the Maryland life sciences ecosystem. As the world’s largest vaccines maker, GSK plays a central role in battling multiple health threats, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with the company’s vaunted pandemic vaccine adjuvant.
One of GSK’s competitive advantages as a vaccine developer is its adjuvant technology, which increases potency in the vaccine response of a vaccine. As the world continues to respond to the pandemic, the company has paired its adjuvant with investigational vaccines under development including from Sanofi and Canada’s Medicago, both of which are in Phase III studies. Sally Mossman, Vice President and Head of GSK Vaccines, said the company believed that was the way it could make the most impact on the response to COVID-19.

“This is the global hub for infectious diseases research,” Steven Walker, Senior Director and Head of Global Marketing for Early Portfolio Strategy at GSK said. He noted that there is a high concentration of infectious disease experts and vaccines experts in the state that could benefit the company and its programs. “The area is ripe with subject matter experts with diverse professional experiences.”
Sally Mossman
Vice President and Head,
GSK Vaccines
Steven Walker
Senior Director and Head, Global Marketing - Early Portfolio Strategy, GSK
COVID-19 may be the viral threat that currently receives the lion’s share of news, but GSK has multiple vaccine programs for a myriad of viruses, including influenza, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), CMV (Cytomegalovirus) and shingles. Currently, the company has 19 different vaccine candidates in development, Walker said.

Mossman said the goal of the vaccine development program is to make a “concrete and significant impact on human health.” And when vaccines are approved by regulatory agencies and used to stymie viral threats, Mossman said the experience is “exciting and rewarding.”

“The positive impact on the lives we will touch over the future horizon, is tremendous and motivating,” Walker said.

For years, GSK’s vaccines operation was located exclusively in Europe. However, the U.S. market was becoming more and more important and company leadership realized it needed a greater presence here. Deciding on Maryland as the site of the vaccines facility was an easy choice, Mossman said.

“When we looked at Maryland, everything we saw was so compelling,” she noted. “It’s the No. 4 hub in the U.S. and working hard to become number 3. That means there is this great access to innovation and talent right here.”

Additionally, Mossman said establishing a foothold in Maryland provided the company with access to experts within federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Also, GSK’s Rockville location puts the company in close proximity to world class universities like Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, as well as GSK’s pharmaceutical R&D team in Pennsylvania.

Locating in Maryland has also been beneficial as far as recruiting talent, Mossman added. She noted that the company works with area universities to provide advice and guidance in designing training programs to prepare students for jobs in industry which helps stimulate local talent pipelines. Through such collaborations, Mossman said they can provide key insights into the needs of the industry, which will ultimately boost the potential for students to secure positions after graduation. The success of that involvement with Maryland’s university system over the past few years has meant that more schools are reaching out about designing programs that will boost the chances of students finding work after completing their degrees.

For those job seekers who are interested in a role at GSK, Walker said there are numerous opportunities to build experience, hone your professional skills and to contribute in a positive way to improving global public health. Not only are there opportunities in Maryland, but because GSK is a global company, Walker said there are opportunities for employment and development in cities throughout the US, as well as in multiple countries around the globe.

“GSK provides you an opportunity to gain in-depth subject matter expertise from internal peers and allows you professional growth opportunities at international sites,” Walker said.

Although GSK is expected to undergo a split in 2022 that will separate its pharmaceuticals business from the consumer health division, Walker predicted continued growth for the vaccines and pharmaceutical business. He and Mossman both said the split will allow GSK to maximize its R&D resources to expand its pipeline of life-saving medications.

Not only does Maryland have a strong talent pipeline coming out of the universities, Walker said overall the state is an “attractive place to work and live.”

“This is such a great place to be. There are so many opportunities for work, play and exploration,” he said.
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