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Montreal Proteomics Network to Lay Off 70 Percent of Its GC-Funded Staff By End Of Year

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The Montreal Proteomics Network plans by the end of the year to lay off 45 of 63 scientists, or more than 70 percent of its GC-funded research staff, who are paid through a grant from Genome Canada because the funding has run out, ProteoMonitor has learned.

MPN’s operational costs have been covered by a three-and-a-half-year, CA$13 million ($11 million) grant from Genome Canada that will expire in March. But in order to keep going through 2005, the network will have to lay off staff sooner than that.

“[W]e need to lay off people now in order to generate money to enable a further six to nine months beyond March 2005,” until new grants come through, John Bergeron, an MPN co-director and the current president of HUPO, told ProteoMonitor in an e-mail message.

According to Anie Perrault, a Genome Canada spokeswoman, MPN is currently negotiating with Genome Quebec, a regional GC center that administrates the MPN funds, for a no-cost extension until October. This extension allows projects to continue to use their funding in full, she said, since they have not been fully operational for three years.

However, MPN will have burnt through all its money by March. “[We] ramped up our project over the final two years to meet our objectives that were agreed by Genome Canada,” Bergeron said.

Genome Canada decided this summer that it will not renew the funding for any of the 79 projects operated through its grants. However, all of these projects are eligible to apply for more money under a new competition next year, along with new proposals, according to Perrault. These grants — funding for which has yet to be approved by the Canadian government — will be awarded next July, according to the GC website. “There is absolutely nothing that would prevent Dr. Bergeron and the Montreal Proteomics Network to apply,” Perrault said.

But even if MPN is able to secure new funding in 2005, the looming funding gap means that the center would still be in dire straights unless some bridge funding can be secured, according to Bergeron. “This basically means that we will lose about 45 highly trained people only to have to find new people to replace them to work on new projects if we are awarded funds in 2005.”

— JK

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