Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced Tuesday it had laid off employees and eliminated open positions totaling about 5% of its 3,000-person workforce to cut costs in preparation for “increased volatility” in funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit research institute laid off 76 employees at its South Lake Union campus and eliminated 81 open positions. All the affected personnel and positions were administrative and not funded directly by grants, said spokesperson Shelby Barnes.
Fred Hutch scientists have been at the forefront of tracking the spread of the coronavirus through the United States and monitoring how the disease develops in front-line responders like hospital and homelessness services workers.
But the disease has dealt a sucker punch to the center’s finances: Fred Hutch expects a $50 million budget shortfall in the next year, the result of economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to control its spread.
Revenue sources including philanthropic contributions and investment income, which together made up $162 million of the center’s $713 million revenue last year, “remain uncertain as long as the volatility continues,” Fred Hutch president and director Dr. Thomas Lynch Jr. wrote in an email to employees.
More than half the center’s revenue, $403 million, comes from ongoing contracts and government grants unaffected by the pandemic.
The center has taken other measures to cut costs since the start of the outbreak, including scaling back expenditures on consultants and vendors, restricting hiring for positions not funded by grants, eliminating salary increases and reducing executive salaries.