A new research models facility shared between US-based contract research organisation (CRO) Charles River Laboratories and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has now opened in Frederick, Maryland.

The 52,000 sq ft facility, which was built under a 10-year, US$111.6 million contract awarded by the NCI to Charles River in September 2006, “symbolises the evolving dynamics in the drug development process, as we truly become one with our customers”, said James Foster, the CRO’s chairman, president and chief executive officer.

When the contract was signed, Charles River had already been providing onsite staffing support to the NCI’s Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center (FCRDC) for 12 years. The new facility, which is located close to the Center’s existing operations in Frederick, will see Charles River “working side by side with NCI in a seamless partnership to produce the highest-quality research models available”, the CRO stated.

Of a total staff of around 120, 80 will be focused on providing genetically defined, pathogen-free mice to support research funded by the NCI and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) that targets the causes and treatment of infectious and metabolic diseases, cancer and other nationally recognised health problems.

Charles River has also assumed responsibility for the management of the NCI/NIH Tumor and Natural Products Repository, which stores a wide range of tumour samples under carefully controlled conditions.

The half of the shared facility dedicated to supporting the NCI will be staffed and operated by Charles River’s Consulting and Staffing Services (CSS) group, which offers recruitment, training, staffing and management services to customers at their own sites or in Charles River facilities.

The other half will be occupied by the CRO’s Research Models and Services (RMS) business, which will use the new space as a platform for growth in the Baltimore/Washington area of the US.