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Broad Institute Laying Off 22 at NIAID-backed Sequencing Center; JCVI, IGS Not Affected

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Broad Institute plans to lay off 22 employees at the end of March because of a decrease in funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for its genome sequencing center, according to a report from that the institute confirmed for GenomeWeb Daily News.

The funding to be reduced is from NIAID's Genome Sequencing Centers for Infectious Diseases (GSCID) program, which funds sequencing centers at the Broad Institute, the J. Craig Venter Institute, and the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

It was not immediately clear how much funding has been trimmed from the GSCID program, and NIAID did not return requests for more information and comments by deadline.

JCVI is not expecting any upcoming layoffs, spokesperson Heather Kowalski told GWDN yesterday.

Claire Fraser, director of the Institute for Genome Sciences, told GWDN that the institute "anticipated that the funding would come in at a reduced level and [doesn't] anticipate any layoffs in the foreseeable future."

The layoffs at the Broad Institute will impact a range of staff members, including research scientists and technicians, Broad Institute spokesperson Nicole Davis confirmed.

The GSCID program funds these institutes to provide high-quality genome sequences and high-throughput genotyping of NIAID Category A-C priority pathogens, microorganisms responsible for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and their hosts, related organisms, clinical isolates, and invertebrate vectors of infectious diseases, according to NIAID. The data, software tools, computational models, reagents, and other knowledge these centers generate are widely distributed through the pathogen research community.

Broad Institute's GSCID was initially funded in 2010.

In a request for applications published last year, NIAID said it would fund two or three GSCID centers with a total of $14 million in 2014, although it was not immediately clear if those grants have already been awarded. The Broad Institute, JCVI, and IGS each received GSCID grants in 2013 , according to the National Institutes of Health database, but none are listed yet for 2014.

Over the past 10 years, NIAID has supported the sequencing of the genomes of nearly 5,000 microorganisms and invertebrate disease vectors and 15,000 viruses. These include pathogens that cause diseases such as influenza, drug-resistant tuberculosis, dengue fever, and potential agents of bioterrorism like anthrax.