Vir Biotechnology expanding in St. Louis, investing more than $41 million and creating 36 new jobs

December 15, 2021

The Cortex Innovation Community and Washington University in St. Louis announced today that Vir Biotechnology, a San Francisco-based immunology research company, is expanding its presence in St. Louis. Vir will invest more than $41 million and create 36 new jobs.

“Missouri’s vibrant bioscience industry is changing the lives of people here in Missouri and around the globe,” said Missouri Governor Mike Parson. “Vir is investing here because of our incredible talent and innovative approaches to global challenges, and we are proud to have them in our state. We look forward to their continued growth and success in Missouri.”

Vir focuses on infectious disease prevention and will establish a lab and offices in St. Louis’ 200-acre Cortex Innovation Community, a vibrant immunobiology and microbiology research community. At Cortex, Vir will be near other biotechnology companies, university technology transfer, entrepreneurial programming, the Washington University School of Medicine, and the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Cortex is also near the BioGenerator Accelerator Labs and BioSTL, a hub of biotechnology activity.

“Our close proximity to distinguished academic and scientific institutions, as well as leading medical centers, will be an important addition to our ongoing efforts to prevent and treat the world’s most serious infectious diseases,” said Lisa Purcell, PhD, vice president of microbiology and virology at Vir and St. Louis Site Head. 

“Vir is thrilled to be a part of the thriving St. Louis biotechnology community, which is still a bit of a ‘hidden gem’ in the industry, offering exceptional talent and academic productivity,” said Herbert “Skip” Virgin, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer of Vir.

David H. Perlmutter, MD, Washington University’s executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor, said, “We are excited to welcome Vir to St. Louis, which is already home to an impressive list of companies and researchers. We are particularly thrilled that the company’s research efforts are led by Dr. Skip Virgin, former head of Washington University’s Department of Pathology & Immunology. Skip made numerous brilliant contributions to the science of immunology and infectious disease during his 30-year tenure at the School of Medicine.”

“Having a leading company in the field right next door opens up many opportunities for collaboration and the potential to bring new discoveries to patients much more quickly,” said Jennifer K. Lodge, PhD, Washington University’s vice chancellor for research.

While Vir’s Cortex space is renovated, Vir’s team will be located at Saint Louis University, which studies infectious diseases and treatments, develops vaccines, and prepares for public health crises through its Center for Vaccine Development. The Center has conducted pivotal research on vaccines for COVID-19 and a variety of other infectious diseases.  

“It is our pleasure to host Vir on SLU’s campus. Having leading industry scientists in the same building as our leading biomedical researchers provides opportunity to realize scientific synergies even before Vir has fully relocated, opening the door for long-term collaboration,” said Kenneth A. Olliff, SLU’s vice president for research and partnerships.

“Cortex is thrilled to welcome Vir Biotechnology to the district. Vir’s touchpoints in St. Louis, including with institutions Washington University and Saint Louis University, and Vir’s interest in attracting and developing a diverse workforce mesh perfectly with Cortex’s strategic direction,” said Sam Fiorello, president and CEO of Cortex Innovation Community.

“Biotech was identified in the STL 2030 Jobs Plan as one of five strong clusters with the potential to drive future growth in the St. Louis region’s economy, and anchor institutions like Cortex, the Danforth Center, and 39 North have established St. Louis as a global destination for the sector,” said Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc. “Vir’s arrival further highlights our strength in biotech, and we welcome them to St. Louis.” 

Vir worked with Greater St. Louis Inc., Missouri Partnership, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, and the St. Louis Development Corporation in their expansion efforts.

Vir used the Missouri Works program, a tool that helps companies expand and retain workers by providing access to capital through withholdings or tax credits for job creation. 

Learn more about Missouri Works.

About the Cortex Innovation Community 

Founded in 2002 through a collaboration of Washington University in St. Louis, BJC Healthcare, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University, and the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Cortex Innovation Community is a nationally and internationally recognized hub of innovation and technology commercialization. It serves as an anchor in St. Louis’ growing ecosystem of innovative startups and established companies. Cited by the Brookings Institution as a Best Practice among global urban innovation districts, Cortex is home to 425 technology-related businesses, and provides a deep pool of entrepreneurial support programs available to the entire St. Louis community. 

Learn more about the Cortex Innovation Community at CortexSTL.com.

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