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Webinar: Recycling Closed Labs Revisited

It’s time to update my September 2011 “Lab Manager” article  ( on what has happened to closed U.S. pharmaceutical, chemical and oil industry laboratories This blog will discuss recent d

It’s time to update my September 2011 “Lab Manager” article  ( on what has happened to closed U.S. pharmaceutical, chemical and oil industry laboratories This blog will discuss recent developments in the Chicago area. These will be discussed in more detail in a paper I plan to present at the ACS Joint Midwest and Great Lakes Regional Meeting in St. Louis October 19-22.


Former G.D. Searle Lab in Skokie, Illinois


In April 2000, Pharmacia & Upjohn acquired Monsanto including its G.D. Searle drug unit. The new company, named Pharmacia, was acquired by Pfizer. In 2003 Pfizer announced the closure of the former G.D. Searle laboratory in Skokie, a suburb north of Chicago, About 1,500 people were laid off or transferred to other locations. Several interested in starting their own companies contacted the Chicago Technology Park, a business incubator funded by the state of Illinois. However, the 56,000 square foot facility has a waiting list of companies seeking to occupy space at the site and was unable to accommodate them.


At approximately the same time, Pfizer closed it laboratory in Kalamazoo, Michigan acquired when Pfizer too over Pharmacia and Upjohn. When Pfizer reviewed 50 proposals in the summer of 2003 from its laid-off scientists looking for financial support to start new companies, twenty-two were from the Kalamazoo area. Eventually two start-up companies incorporated in Kalamazoo County. All received state financial aid, and Pfizer pledged as much as $30 million to support three of them.


Illinois Science + Technology Park


Chicago got off to a slower start. Only four start-up firms filed requests for financial support by late 2003. Neither received any money from Pfizer. Two Pfizer scientists and managers, Michael Gralinski and Peter Senese, had formed a drug testing services company, CorDynamics Inc. in July 2003 and moved into a building across the street from the Chicago Technology Park. A third Pfizer alumnus, Mike Schlosser, founded another testing services company, Midwest BioResearch, to offer drug testing services in another suburb north of Chicago, Evanston. This firm relocated to the 23-acre former G.D. Searle site, now called Illinois Science + Technology Park.


In 2005, real estate developer Forest City Enterprises acquired the site from Pfizer for $23.4 million. Forest City has promised to invest $155 million to redevelop the facility over a 10year period. Government financial support will also help redevelop the site. The State of Illinois has committed $5 million to the project. The Village of Skokie has promised $10 million from two general obligation bond issues.


The Illinois Science + Technology Park currently contains 660,000 square feet of space. Among its thirteen tenants are Fisher Scientific, NanoInk, Midwest BioResearch, Nanotope, NanoIntegris, Vetter Pharma International USA and Astellas Pharma.


Upon completion of its redevelopment the facility will offer up to 2 million square feet of office and state-of-the-art facilities including chemistry, biology, and clinical research labs plus GMP and NMR facilities. The expanded facilities will make the Illinois Science + Technology Park a full-service corporate research campus with facilities to meet the needs of early stage companies, growing firms, large established life sciences companies, and related institutional research facilities.


The Q Building is the chemistry focal point of the complex. Its flexible design also can accommodate other scientific disciplines. The building has a floor space of 170,000 square feet. The original construction cost in the late 1990s was $78 million.



John K. Borchardt

Dr. Borchardt is a consultant and technical writer. The author of the book “Career Management for Scientists and Engineers,” he writes often on career-related subjects.