Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is designating its campus in Research Triangle Park as its sole U.S. headquarters in a move that could mean a greater role for the Triangle in GSK’s future.

GSK (NYSE: GSK) said Wednesday that it no longer would maintain a dual headquarters label for its RTP and Philadelphia, Pa. operations.

That news also came as part of a disclosure by the pharmaceutical firm that it was cutting some 1,000 sales positions. GSK is in the midst of a $1 billion-plus cost-cutting program implemented this year as it deals with increased global drug competition and declines in sales of its popular diabetes drug Avandia.

Andrew Witty, who took over as GSK’s chief executive officer earlier this year, has been aggressively cutting jobs, making restructuring changes and also acquiring other companies in order to expand GSK’s product development pipeline/

“Headquarters means different things to different people around the world, and in this case by declaring one site as the headquarters it is a matter of simplification and streamlining,” GSK spokesperson Mary Anne Rhyne told WRAL.com.

“It made sense for the headquarters to be based in RTP because we have 5,000 people here and 35 buildings that we own,” she added. “In Philadelphia, we have 1,500 people and space that we lease.”

However, Rhyne stressed that GSK is not “leaving the Philadelphia site” and no jobs or responsibilities are being moved to RTP as a result.

“We are still committed to the Philadelphia and RTP communities because that’s where our employees live and work,” she added. “We have a lot of similar jobs at both sites, and that’s likely to continue.”

By designating RTP as its U.S. headquarters, Rhyne acknowledged that more good news could be coming North Carolina’s way.

“It could be a sign of things to come,” she said. “As we move forward, we will look at jobs and where it makes sense to put them.”

GSK continues to search for a new president of U.S. operations. Chris Viehbacher, who held that post and lived in the Triangle, resigned in September to become chief executive officer at Sanofi-Aventis.

Stan Hull, who is based in RTP, and David Pernock, who is based in Philadelphia, are leading U.S. operations. “They will continue to do that,” Rhyne said. “Our CEO has said he doesn’t expect to name a new president before the end of the first quarter next year.”

As part of the continuing cost-cutting program, GSK also is cutting some 12 percent of its sale force, or about 1,000 people, in the U.S. by the end of the year.

Some 700 people will be hired for vaccine sales, but 1,800 positions for other products will be cut, the company said.

Last month, GSK cut 850 jobs related to research and development, including an unspecified number at its campus in the Triangle.

The reductions represented some 6 percent of the R&D team of approximately 15,000 workers at the international drug giant.

Some 350 R&D-related positions had been cut earlier this summer.

“Following a recent review of business operations, we have started consultation on proposals which could impact 850 roles within R&D in the UK and the U.S.,” the company said in an e-mailed statement sent to various media outlets. “It has been difficult to arrive at these proposals, but we believe these changes are necessary as part of GSK’s longer-term strategy to ensure that we can invest in key areas of future growth and evolve our business to compete effectively in what is a rapidly changing and challenging environment for pharmaceutical companies.”

Recently, GSK formed a new cancer research team based on Witty’s desires for improved research and development. The group – called a center of excellence for drug discovery – will include researchers from several “small discovery units,” known inside GSK as DPUs.

Witty said he wants to foster more drug discovery within the international giant, which has more than 6,000 employees across the Triangle.

GSK employs hundreds of R&D-related scientists and researchers in RTP.

The company also operates a manufacturing plant in Zebulon, where scores of positions have been cut this year.