WuXi Biologics taps veteran insider to head fledgling vaccine CDMO business

Jian Dong
CEO Jian Dong has multiple years of experience at WuXi, including heading its flagship Chinese biologics facility. (WuXi Vaccines)

Chinese CDMO WuXi Biologics has pinned its ambitious global expansion plans on a massive drug manufacturing facility in Ireland, the first outside of its home country. But WuXi is also planning to headquarter its fledgling vaccines unit at the site, and it's found the leader to get that business up and running.

WuXi has named Jian Dong, the former head of the company's flagship Chinese biologics facility, as CEO for its under-construction vaccines unit headquartered in Ireland, the CDMO said last week. 

Dong will take the reins once WuXi Vaccines opens in 2021 at its 167,000-square-foot, three-story manufacturing facility in Dundalk, Ireland. In October, WuXi said the facility would produce $150 million worth of vaccines a year for 20 years as part of a $3 billion deal with an unnamed partner.

WuXi installed the modular lab for the $240 million facility in February, the company said in a release. 

Dong joined WuXi in 2014 and took the lead on manufacturing and engineering operations at the CDMO's Chinese WuXi City facility in 2015. He previously held roles at Eli Lilly, among other drugmakers, and specialized in vaccine production and facility qualification, WuXi said. 

WuXi Vaccines, a joint venture with Shanghai-based Hile Bio-Technology, will reside a stone's throw from its parent company's $392 million biologics plant—its first outside China—which is also expected to open next year. 

RELATED: WuXi Biologics doubles down on Ireland, will build vaccine plant there

Back in April 2018, WuXi unveiled its plan to construct a 2.8 million-square-foot facility in Dundalk that would eventually employ 400, the company said. 

The plant will use multiple single-use bioreactors for commercial biomanufacturing and is also designed to be able to run continuous bioprocessing, the company said today. With a total of 48,000-liter fed-batch and 6,000-liter perfusion bioreactor capacity, WuXi says it will be the world’s largest facility using single-use bioreactors.

Meanwhile, WuXi's Ireland facility was only the tip of the iceberg as its global expansion plans have also come stateside. 

RELATED: WuXi Biologics inks lease agreement for 3rd U.S. facility in global expansion push

In June, WuXi signed a 10-year lease agreement to occupy a 66,000-square-foot clinical manufacturing facility in Cranbury, New Jersey, that will become its third plant in the U.S. 

The Cranbury facility will eventually employ 100 and will be fully operational by the end of this year, WuXi said. The facility will include 6,000 liters of bioreactor space along with process development and quality control labs and other supporting functions. 

WuXi a month earlier clinched a deal to build its first U.S. biologics facility at a 46-acre master-planned manufacturing hub dubbed The Reactory in Worcester, Massachusetts. The two-story, 107,000-square-foot facility will cost $60 million and employ 150 when it is fully operational in 2022.

In May, WuXi also inked a lease agreement for a 33,000-square-foot process development lab in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the CDMO said.