Planned cuts to leave 125 Life Tech employees

Calif. company moving research kit production out of Frederick plant

October 02, 2001|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

More than 700 Life Technologies Inc. employees worked in Frederick and Rockville before the publicly traded company was bought last year by Invitrogen Corp. By the end of June, only 125 of those employees will be left - all of them in Frederick, the company said yesterday.

Invitrogen, based in Carlsbad, Calif., notified the state late last month that it would cut 250 jobs at the Frederick plant, which makes kits containing microbiological tools used by scientists.

Another 160 jobs in administration and research and development are being cut at Life Technologies' former headquarters campus in Rockville. Human Genome Sciences Inc. has acquired the campus. The jobs likely represent the last Life Tech workers at the site, Invitrogen spokesman Paul Goodson said.

Under an agreement with Human Genome Sciences Inc. - which announced in March that it had purchased the 18-acre Life Tech campus with its three buildings and 240,000 square feet of labs and offices - all Life Tech workers must be out by year's end.

The job cuts in Frederick come as Invitrogen moves production of its finished microbiological tool kits to Carlsbad. The kits contain everything from restriction enzymes, designed to cut specific genes, to enzymes that allow genes to be replicated.

"About a third have been moved out so far," Goodson said of finished goods production.

The company, however, plans to keep its corporate data center in Frederick, home to its customer records and ordering systems. It also will consolidate production of so-called primers, strings of DNA organized in a way that allows scientists to pluck specific genes out of a laboratory soup, in Frederick.

A relative handful of Life Tech employees in administration, marketing and legal areas have been put on retention bonuses to encourage them to stay through the end of June, Goodson said. Those employees have been moving into offices at the Frederick plant.

Handfuls of others are moving to Invitrogen properties in Huntsville, Ala., and Grand Island, N.Y. But most of the jobs are being eliminated.

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