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Biotechnology / Jobs

Genomics leader Illumina is opening a new center at University of Maryland BioPark

It's the first East Coast location for the San Diego-based company. Here's how leaders say it can raise the profile for Baltimore's biotech community.

The University of Maryland BioPark. (Courtesy photo)

A leading genomics company with international reach is opening its first commercial location on the East Coast at Baltimore’s University Maryland BioPark.

San Diego-based Illumina, which was founded in 1998 and has 7,000 employees worldwide, specializes in DNA sequencing and microarray technology. Wired called the company the “Google of Genetic Testing,” and the company’s own data said it is responsible for generating more than 90% of the world’s sequencing data.

The new office, called the Illumina Solutions Center, is located at 801 W. Baltimore St. The 13,000-square-foot space will play host to trainings on its technology and provide office space for customers and commercial teams. Illumina didn’t disclose how many employees it will have in the space, but said hundreds of employees and customers will come to the space for trainings.

The location will give Illumina proximity to the research activities at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which is part of UMB. Specifically, the company is looking to build on an existing relationship with the University of Maryland’s Institute for Genome Sciences and its director, Dr. Clare Fraser, as the Institute’s address is near where the center will be based.

“We believe this will facilitate collaborative engagement in research activities with our academic partner, University of Maryland, Baltimore,” said Mark Van Oene, senior VP and chief commercial officer for Illumina, in a statement. “We are inspired by all the ways genomics can stimulate economic activity to maximize impact in the region and fuel research with the potential to improve health outcomes for patients.”

The new office is an example of a university-based research center contributing to economic development in the city. Along with Illumina’s presence, the trainings will also bring a wider biotech presence.

“We’ll have hundreds of people each year coming to Baltimore each year to get training,” said James Hughes, UMB’s senior VP and chief enterprise and economic development officer. He added that many of the people who come for multi-day trainings will be representing leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies who will in turn get exposure to Baltimore’s community.

Within the BioPark itself, Hughes said the presence of the large, global company can contribute to a mix that also includes startups and companies such as Paragon Bioservices, the contract manufacturing company that has been growing quickly in recent years and was acquired this spring for $1.2 billion by Catalent.

“By having that mixture of companies, you get great interaction among those companies,” Hughes said. “It helps everyone in the park to attract talent to the area and raises Baltimore’s profile for the whole biosciences industry.”

Illumina’s move into the BioPark comes as its leaders are planning to add more office and lab space for companies at the corner of West Baltimore Street and Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard. The 10-story building is expected to be completed in 2021.

Companies: University of Maryland BioPark

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