GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical giant with its U.S. headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, will lay off about 250 staffers at its research and development centers in Upper Providence, Pa., and Stevenage, near London, according to reports.

The job cuts are part of GSK’s effort to refocus its research on oncology, the immune system, and genetics under recently appointed R&D chief Hal Barron, according to Endpoints News, a biopharmaceutical industry website. Staff chemists and administrators reportedly are among the hardest hit.

The latest move follows another round of job reduction announced last September, when GSK laid off around 550 people in its U.S. commercial pharmaceuticals business, including about 100 marketing, sales, and support staff based at the Navy Yard.

Hal Barron
Hal Barron

At the time, the company employed around 15,000 at its U.S. factory, research, and sales centers including about 3,500 in the Philadelphia area, including at its Collegeville research and development offices.

A GSK spokesperson declined to comment on the layoffs, but offered a prepared statement.

“The future direction of our portfolio has become clearer, prioritizing innovation and moving toward delivering a pipeline of transformational medicines with a focus on immunology, genetically validated targets, and finding platforms and technologies that amplify our science,” the statement said. “We anticipate a small number of roles will be directly impacted by these changes but continue to expect GSK’s R&D operations to grow overall with increased investment.”

Barron, who previously was head of R&D at Google-funded Calico, was hired in January 2018 to turn around GSK’s moribund research group.

GSK is scheduled to announce its first quarter 2019 results on May 1.