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The Boston Globe

Science

Broad Institute lays off 27 after end of federal program

More than two dozen workers have been laid off at the Broad Institute, a Cambridge genomics research center, because a federal program that supported chemical screening of potential drugs is ending.

Clare Midgley, chief communications officer for the Broad, said 27 people who worked on projects that involved contract work for other institutions were notified their jobs were terminated at the end of April. The institute plans to hire more than that number of people as it shifts direction with its strategy for developing therapies, but Midgley did not know the timeline.

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Midgley said that for years, the Broad Institute ran chemical screens for laboratories all over the country, work underwritten by a National Institutes of Health program called the Molecular Library Probe Center Network. That program is ending, she said, and its conclusion coincides with a shift in focus as the institute builds up its own therapeutic research.

“We need different skills to focus on taking our therapeutic programs a little farther down the road,” Midgley said.

In March, the Broad Institute laid off 22 people as a different federal grant was reduced. That came shortly after it announced several major philanthropic gifts, including an additional $100 million from its namesake founders, Eli and Edythe Broad, and $74 million from Mexican philanthropist Carlos Slim Helú.

Midgley said the Broad Institute, which employs about 900 people, is growing overall thanks in part to the gifts.

“The science is advancing and we’re adding people,” Midgley said. “There’s no plan to shrink the size of the Broad at all — it’s more of an expansion mind-set.”

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

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