Less than eight months after committing to a US$330 million expansion programme in its home state of Michigan, MPI Research, the US-based contract research organisation (CRO) specialising in preclinical services, is laying off around 200 employees at its corporate headquarters in Mattawan, citing the tough economic climate.

President and chief operating officer William Harrison issued a statement explaining that MPI’s “customers, primarily biotech companies, have had their funding sources cut and are being forced to cancel or delay studies with us. Because of the impact of this dire economic situation, we are reducing our workforce”.

Despite the short-term uncertainty faced by clients and other CROs, “we are optimistic about the long-term future of MPI Research”, Harrison added. “We have a strong reputation as being a high-quality provider of preclinical research, and our services will be needed more than ever once the economy stabilises.”

He pointed out that MPI had seen positive job growth throughout 2008 and, even after the lay-offs, would have a larger headcount than a year ago.
The CRO also said it remained committed to its expansion in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, which “may be slowed somewhat but will remain on track with our five- to seven-year expansion plan”. This involves moving into two buildings vacated by Pfizer, which will accommodate MPI’s growing discovery services business.

The investment programme announced in April by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm was expected to create 3,300 new positions at MPI and indirectly generate another 3,300 jobs in the financially strapped US state. Around US$300 million of the investment was for expanding MPI’s existing campus in Mattawan, with a bounty of some 2,900 new jobs.