Core Lab sets hiring goal

The Core Lab at the center of the North Carolina Research Campus should be getting its first boss soon.

The foundation that owns and will run the lab hopes to name its chief scientific officer by July 1, said Steve Leath, president of the David H. Murdock Research Institute board.

The institute also is formally seeking IRS approval for nonprofit status.

Billionaire Dole Food owner David Murdock is developing the $1.5 billion campus in collaboration with several N.C. universities. The Core Lab and its specialty equipment will be available for rent by campus tenants.

The institute hired an executive search firm, Korn/Ferry International in Philadelphia, to help find candidates for the lab's top job. There are about 10 to 20 candidates now, Leath said.

The chief scientific officer will run the lab day-to-day, overseeing equipment usage, lab rates and purchasing.

Eventually, the job will include overseeing research. That function is still probably two to three years away, Leath said, and likely will focus on health research.

He expects the institute will have 50 to 75 workers, mostly researchers, by the end of 2009.

Murdock said in 2006 he would use $150million of his own fortune to launch the institute. That money would cover construction of the Core Lab building and the purchase of equipment, as well as support other nonprofit work at the 350-acre campus.

This year alone, the institute's equipment purchases will top $20million, Leath said. The lab is nearing completion, and equipment will start to roll in next month. Scientists should be able to use some equipment by late summer.