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Broad Institute to lay off 22 after research grant shrinks

The Broad Institute, a genomics research center, shared a grant that was reduced.

Cyrus Moghtader for the Boston Globe

The Broad Institute, a genomics research center, shared a grant that was reduced.

The Broad Institute, a Cambridge genomics research center, has notified 22 employees that they will be laid off at the end of the month because of decreased federal funding for a grant.

Nicole Davis, a spokeswoman for the Broad, would not specify which jobs were being cut, but said they included a wide array of positions, including technicians and research scientists. The institute has about 900 employees.

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It is hard to speak with a scientist these days without hearing about how difficult the federal funding situation is. More and more researchers are finding themselves scrounging for money rather than doing science, caught in a cycle of constantly applying for grants.

The pending layoffs at the Broad Institute demonstrate just how fragile that balance really is — even when the reductions do not appear to be directly caused by the zigzagging budget situation that has meant fewer grants are getting funded. The Broad Institute still expects to receive money from the grant, which supports a genomic sequencing center focused on infectious diseases. But the grant program was revised when it was renewed and includes less money than it did on its first round.

Three sequencing centers across the country have received an average of $11 million per year under the grant since 2009, but under the renewed program, the total pot of money to be divided among the centers will be just $14 million per year, according to spokeswoman Nalini Padmanabhan from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“While NIAID’s funding has decreased over the years for these centers, we continue to invest in other . . . technologies in addition to sequencing, with a wide diversity of programs,” Padmanabhan wrote in an e-mail. “As contracts, these centers are funded depending on research requirements which vary year over year. No program cuts or sequestration cuts were made.”

Davis said that the Broad Institute hopes to find other jobs internally for as many employees as possible.

Carolyn Y. Johnson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @carolynyjohnson.
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