Sanofi opened a new research and development facility in Cambridge, MA, where 250 investigators and support staffers will focus on research in oncology and other areas.

The new facility expands to about 5,000 employees—including some 1,700 researchers—the combined greater Boston workforce of Sanofi and its Genzyme biotech subsidiary, which is based in Cambridge.

“Our presence at 640 Memorial Drive underscores our belief that together with physicians, scientists, and academics from the Boston area, we can make a real difference in the lives of patients through developing innovative solutions,” Sanofi CEO Christopher A. Viehbacher said in a statement. “It also reinforces our presence in one of the world’s most vibrant life science ecosystems.”

Sanofi is among biopharma companies benefiting from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), the quasi-public agency that oversees the commonwealth’s $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Initiative.

MLSC awarded Sanofi $2.45 million in tax incentives toward 100 jobs in Cambridge, and saw a $500,000 accelerator loan to Pluromed repaid with interest after Sanofi bought the company last year. MLSC also received a total $500,000 from Sanofi when it joined its corporate consortium aimed at supporting the growth to life sciences in the state.

Sanofi is one of several biopharma giants that are expanding in Massachusetts: Novartis, Pfizer, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals are set to open new sites over the next year. The sites are expected to significantly expand a workforce that grew by only 365 jobs during 2012, to 56,462 jobs. [See “JobWatch: Praying for a Massachusetts Miracle.”]

Massachusetts Govenor Deval Patrick led dignitaries at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the new research facility. During the event, Sanofi also announced a $1 million gift to support workforce training for students at the University of Massachusetts, College of Science and Mathematics.

“The new facility builds on our global leadership in the life sciences and will keep us at the forefront of the innovation economy for generations to come,” Patrick said.

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