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VOL. 127 | NO. 41 | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oxford Labs Opens New Facility

By Aisling Maki

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Oxford Diagnostic Laboratories Monday, Feb. 27, unveiled its new, state-of-the-art, 35,000-square-foot facility at 5846 Distribution Drive, which is expected to bring as many as 40 new high-paying, highly skilled jobs to Memphis within the next year, and as many as 65 new jobs total in the future.

“Those are relatively short-term projections,” said John Kelly, Oxford’s senior operations director. “The size of the facility, the volume that we could process here over time – we could potentially be looking at significantly more than that. I mean, this facility can fit 100 people or more. We’re just keeping our projections conservative based on today.”

Kelly said the company is currently occupying just 20,000 square feet of space in the $2 million facility.

“There’s about a third of it that we haven’t touched yet,” he said. “We fitted out for our two-year revenue buying projections, so in two, three, four, five years and beyond, we might move into more space.”

Thirteen positions have already been filled, said Dr. Peter Wrighton-Smith, CEO of parent company Oxford Immunotec Ltd., a global immunology-focused diagnostics company with headquarters in Abingdon, England.

The company, founded in 2002 based on research at the University of Oxford, employs about 115 people worldwide, including 60 in the U.S.

The company’s U.S. headquarters, Marlborough, Mass.-based Oxford Diagnostic Laboratories, is a national reference laboratory offering testing for tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis, whose symptoms include weight loss and persistent cough, was once a leading cause of death in the U.S., but is now successfully treatable if discovered in time. Some people who are exposed to the infection may never become ill, but latent TB may become active if the immune system is weakened.

The tuberculin skin test has been around for a century. Oxford, however, innovated the T-Spot technology platform, a cellular blood test for the detection of both active and latent TB infection. The company’s first product, T-Spot TB Test was approved in 2008 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Oxford’s Memphis laboratory will serve as the company’s primary U.S. testing facility for TB.

Monday’s announcement and ribbon cutting was attended by a mix of company representatives, city, county and state government officials, and leaders from FedEx Corp., the Greater Memphis Chamber, the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) and general contractor Linkous Construction Co. Inc.

“On behalf of the EDGE board, (Memphis) Mayor (A C) Wharton and (Shelby County) Mayor (Mark) Luttrell, we want to welcome you to the community,” Reid Dulberger, president and CEO of EDGE, told the crowd Monday. “You are really in our sweet spot. Biomedical companies are a growing part of this area’s economy. We’re so very pleased you’re here working with the city, the county, the state and the chamber to see what we can do as a team. We’re looking forward to not simply your operation here today, but many more of these kinds of ventures.”

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