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Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. today has established a new network of academic centers that will serve as a “farm team” for drug development. The Global Centers for Therapeutic Innovation is basing its headquarters in Cambridge and will establish partnerships with academic centers around the country. The first such partnership will be with the University of California, San Francisco. In 2012, Pfizer will expand the program to include academic centers in Europe and Asia.

The new research initiative is an effort to refill Pfizer’s drug pipeline, as it prepares for some its blockbuster drugs, including Viagra and Lipitor, to face generic competition in the next few years as their patents expire.

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