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Institute Lays Off TB Vaccine Researchers

The Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle has cut staff, laying off about a third of its researchers in late November due to financial issues, the New York Times reports. These cuts largely affected researchers working on a leprosy vaccine and studying tropical diseases, it adds, noting that the cuts also imperil a $45 million contract the institute and its collaborators recently received from the US National Institutes of Health to study the immune response to tuberculosis.

According to the Times, the Infectious Disease Research Institute has long grappled with financial problems. The institute's founder, Steven Reed, stepped down earlier this year as chief executive after the resignations of other executives and board members. Corey Casper, who took his place as the acting chief executive, tells the paper that he tried to save the research program, but that cuts had to be made to save the larger organization.

Some of the affected researchers are trying to relocate their research programs, according to the Times. But, it adds, they are uncertain whether the institute, which owns the rights to the vaccine and other work, will let them. Casper tells the Times the institute is looking to license the technology so the work may continue. 

Others questioned the wisdom of shuttering programs funded by grants, though Capser notes that grants don't cover all overhead costs, it adds.