University lays off 54 employees at Genome Institute
Because of a decrease in federal funding, Washington University has laid off 54 employees from its Genome Institute. The 54 employees account for almost 17 percent of the Institute’s 327 person staff.
The layoffs were due to a cutback in funding from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). NHGRI cut its funding from 37.6 million dollars to 28 million dollars.
The Genome Institute aims to broaden the scientific community’s understanding of human health and disease through genetic research.
Because the Genome Institute depends very heavily on grants, decreases in funding often cause layoffs. In the past the number of people on staff at the Institute has fluctuated because of changes in funding. This however is the largest layoff to ever take place at the Institute.
The layoffs affect staff members in many areas of the Institute, including administrators and scientists. They will go into effect Nov. 1.
According to Director of the Genome Institute, Richard Wilson, Ph.D., the Institute should be able to maintain its staff after the layoffs.
“The staff reductions now take us to a number of employees that we should be able to sustain with the level of funding we will be awarded,” Wilson said in a statement.
The Genome Institute played an integral role in the Human Genome Project, a research project that mapped out the chemical bases in a single molecule of human DNA.
Recently, the Institute has been focusing its research on discovering the genetic basis for cancer.
The NHGRI is cutting support to the three major genome research centers it supports in order to reallocate funds to smaller research centers.
According to Wilson, the layoffs may result in some cutbacks in the work that the Institute does.
“It is unclear how ongoing projects will be prioritized under the new NHGRI funding plan. Details will be worked out over the next few months during a series of communications between NHGRI staff and the Genome Institute, but it is expected that all NHGRI-funded projects will be affected to some extent,” Wilson said.
Still, he says the Genome Institute will continue on with its research despite the loss in staff.
“As we move forward, we’re going to continue to focus on our strengths, which is developing, testing and implementing new approaches to sequencing and analyzing DNA, with the goal of understanding human health and disease,” Wilson said.