Toys have given way to test tubes at a former Toys ‘R’ Us in Henrico County.
Thermo Fisher Scientific recently started operations at its new 59,000-square-foot laboratory at 8700 Quioccasin Road, across from Regency.
The Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company invested $32 million to convert the former big box retail building into a drug development research facility. That investment came as part of a wider $97 million effort by Thermo Fisher to expand its local operations in clinical research.
“Our Richmond-area labs are helping biopharma and biotech customers develop treatments for all types of diseases, from cancer to rare disease and COVID to Alzheimer’s Disease,” Thermo Fisher Senior Vice President David Johnston said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility held Wednesday. “We test specimens from subjects involved in clinical trials to understand what’s happening to the drug inside the body.”
Employees began to work at the Quioccasin Road property in the spring, after it underwent a renovation and expansion that added 16,000 square feet to the former toy store. The building had sat dormant since Toys ‘R’ Us vacated in 2012.
Gilbane Building Co. was the general contractor on the project. Thermo Fisher didn’t respond to an inquiry regarding the rest of the project team.
Thermo Fisher has about 1,300 employees in the region that work out of 350,000 square feet of local lab space. A company spokesman said that the company also operates at the Bio+Tech Park in downtown Richmond as well as at a lab at 2240 Dabney Road in Henrico.
Thermo Fisher announced the $97 million regional expansion initiative earlier this year. It expects to hire more than 500 local employees over the next three years as part of that effort. It expects that 240 of those new employees hired as part of the expansion push will work at the Quioccasin Road lab.
Thermo Fisher’s local footprint came by way of its acquisition of North Carolina-based pharmaceutical research firm PPD in December 2021, according to a news release.
Thermo Fisher’s other brands include Applied Biosystems, Invitrogen, Fisher Scientific, Unity Lab Services and Patheon.
In his remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said the new Henrico laboratory jells well with the wider Richmond-Petersburg region’s aspirations to make itself a hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The regional Alliance for Building Better Medicine was recently awarded federal funding to support the creation of labs in Richmond and Chesterfield County.