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Visible Genetics Acquires One Research Lab, Closes Another

NEW YORK, Oct. 3 – Pharmacogenomics company Visible Genetics said Wednesday it had acquired the Cambridge, UK-based research laboratory of Belgian biotech firm Virco as part of a restructuring effort that also includes the closing of Visible Genetic's research facility in its hometown of Toronto.

In addition, Visible Genetics said that James Dunn, one of the company’s founding employees, will be leaving his position as vice president of research and development. The company, which did not give a reason for Dunn’s departure, said he would continue to serve as a consultant on an as-needed basis.

Visible Genetics will pay $829,000 for the Cambridge lab, which has about 25 researchers, and assume the lease for the building that houses the lab. The lease amounts to $419,000 annually. 

"Through this acquisition, Visible Genetics will greatly expand our R&D capability and accelerate the development of valuable new clinical tools and services for HIV, hepatitis, and oncology," Richard Daly, CEO of Visible Genetics, said in a statement. 

Visible Genetics said that it hopes to develop assays based on the Cambridge lab’s experience with HIV, hepatitis, and oncology.

Brendan Larder, who joined Visible Genetics from Virco in July, will head the Cambridge operation. Visible Genetics said it would also split the research activities from the Toronto facility between its research lab in Atlanta and the new Cambridge outpost.

The company’s remaining 120 employees in Toronto will be responsible for instrument development and manufacturing, software development, and corporate administration, Visible Genetics said. Visible Genetics said it expects to take a $1.1 million to $1.5 million charge in the third quarter resulting from the closing of the Toronto laboratory. It did not say how many pepole would be laid off as a result of the lab's closure.

A company spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Visible Genetics said the acquisition of the Cambridge lab resulted from Virco’s decision to restructure and move all of their operations to their headquarters in Mechelen, Belgium. 

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