Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

PerkinElmer will buy Spokane genetic test company

Deal expected to close in May

Dr. Bassem Bejjani, left, and Dr. Lisa Shaffer, photographed in the laboratory Aug. 17, 2009, are the founders of Signature Genomics. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Massachusetts-based PerkinElmer Inc., a maker of medical test equipment and services, announced today it will buy Spokane’s Signature Genomic Laboratories. Signature Genomic was founded in Spokane in 2003 by Lisa Shaffer and Dr. Bassem Bejjani. The acquisition is expected to be completed in May. No purchase price was disclosed. The privately held Spokane company develops advanced biotechnology systems to identify chromosomal abnormalities linked with genetic disorders. Its diagnostic tests are used by doctors and clinics to find pre-natal and post-natal diseases such as Down syndrome. The 120-person company recently developed a test kit for diagnosing leukemia. In an e-mail Shaffer said the sale has no impact on the Spokane operations. If anything, the acquisition will likely lead to more tests being developed in Spokane, Shaffer said. “There is little duplication between our workforce and PKI’s, so we don’t anticipate much change in our Spokane workforce,” Shaffer added. In a press release PerkinElmer said it expects the deal to close after a required federal regulatory waiting period. Shaffer will remain the company’s president, and Bejjani will continue as Signature Genomic’s chief medical officer. Bejjani and Shaffer worked together as clinical genetic researchers at Baylor College of Medicine before moving to Spokane to take jobs with Washington State University. When they launched the company, it was the first lab in the nation to offer microarray-based genetic tests. The company has been profitable every year since it started. Initial financial support came from Sacred Heart Medical Center and Pathology Associates Medical Labs, both operated by Providence Health & Services. Later funding came from Ampersand Ventures and jVen Capital. PerkinElmer has more than 8,000 employees based in more than 150 countries. It had sales of $1.8 billion in 2009 and is one of the stocks included in S&P 500 Index.