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Broad Institute to Cut Sequencing Staff

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard will cut 24 employees from its Genome Sequencing Platform because new genomics technologies have made some staff unnecessary.

"The rapid evolution of DNA sequencing technologies has required the Broad Institute to transition its genome sequencing efforts from performing high-throughput work on the traditional technologies to actively developing and optimizing the use of next-generation high-throughput sequencing technologies," Broad said in an e-mail statement to reporters this week.

The decision to trim the staff is not linked to the economic downturn. The institute in September landed a $400 million gift from Eli and Edythe Broad to form an endowment.

The staff cuts are "entirely a reflection of the changes in DNA sequencing technologies, which require us to invest our sequencing resources in different ways. These new technologies require substantially different capabilities and resources on a different scale than the traditional technologies they are replacing."

All of the employees affected by these layoffs are at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nicole Davis, a spokesperson for the institute, told GenomeWeb Daily News in an e-mail.

Cliff Tabin, chairman of Harvard Medical School's Department of Genetics, said in an e-mail that he did not expect technological changes to cause layoffs in his department.

"We do not currently plan any, and I sure hope we never have them," Tabin wrote to GWDN. He added that while he did not wish to create "false assurances," the HMS genetics department does not conduct large-scale genomic sequencing projects, as MIT does, and it does not have "large numbers of automated machines."

Broad said it has planned "comprehensive outplacement services" for those who are being let go.

The GSP conducts large-scale genome sequencing projects, including its contribution to the Human Genome Project, and other organisms including mammals, fish, insects, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Its major activities include high-throughput genome sequencing, genome finishing, and sequencing informatics.

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