Sequenom Center readies for more growth

March 22, 2009
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To accommodate its recent growth, Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine is opening a second office in Arena Station at 25 Ottawa Ave. SW, while still maintaining its offices in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

In the next week or two, SCMM will temporarily occupy 5,423 square feet of space on the first floor of Arena Station, while a larger space on the third floor is being built out for the company, said CFO Paul Hawran. He said Sequenom is expected to move into the expanded third-floor space in early May. 

“Even beyond the build-out area, we’re actually trying to assess how much space we’re really going to want and where we’re going to want it,” Hawran said. “Looking at all of Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine, we’re going to need more space in Grand Rapids.”

Hawran declined to say how large a space the center will have on the third floor of Arena Station because the company is still “working through the numbers.” Ideally, Hawran said, the company would like to have all Sequenom staff, including the 12-member staff currently working out of the Cook-DeVos Center, consolidate at one location in Grand Rapids. There are plans to hire more staff soon, including medical technicians, laboratory technicians and administrative personnel. Hawran would not reveal just how many new hires will be made.

Sequenom Inc. provides genetic analysis products that are sold nationwide. Sequenom acquired the Center for Molecular Medicine in Grand Rapids in November 2008. The center is an advanced molecular pathology laboratory that was started by the Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health in March 2007 to research cancer, heart disease and mental illness at the DNA, RNA and protein levels. SCMM offers cutting-edge diagnostics, translational research and clinical trials. Sequenom is accelerating the center’s growth and, at the same time, accelerating the VAI’s and Spectrum’s access to genetic tests, which has the potential for taking them one step closer to the promise of personalized medicine.

“We are going to collaborate with these excellent institutions and actually fund research programs there that could lead to informed discoveries with commercial potential,” Sequenom President and CEO Harry Stylli said at the time the acquisition was announced. “SCMM will serve the entire country. It will be the major testing facility for Sequenom.”

Stylli told the Business Journal that, through SCMM, his company is initially offering noninvasive prenatal tests for Down syndrome, RhD blood disorders, and fetal X and Y chromosome sex-linked disorders. It intends to expand that menu as time goes on to include tests for other chromosomal disorders and for cancer.

Stylli said if Sequenom’s business plan and the potential of the tests are realized, it could lead to the creation of about 500 direct and indirect jobs in the life sciences over the next five years.

Sequenom’s total revenues for 2008 were $47.1 million.

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