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EPA awards up to $129 million to BTR Park's CeeTox

by Deanne Puca

Aug. 11, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Southwest Michigan Innovation Center.
CeeTox is headquartered at WMU's Parkview Campus
KALAMAZOO--A life sciences company housed in Western Michigan University's Business, Technology and Research Park was awarded a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant for as much as $129.6 million to test chemicals in everyday products for potential toxicity.

CeeTox Inc. received a contract with a maximum value of $25.9 million in the first year, with four additional one-year options. The company is one of four nationwide chosen for the EPA's ToxCast program, launched in 2007 to develop a cost-effective approach for testing thousands of chemicals in consumer products and assessing them for safety. The new products include potential drugs, cosmetics, personal care products, farm chemicals and household chemicals.

Photo of CeeTox President Tim Mitchell.
Tim Mitchell
"The ToxCast Program will ultimately help us better understand and mitigate the toxic effects of chemicals in our world," says Tim Mitchell, president of CeeTox.

The other companies awarded money for ToxCast research are Vala Sciences and BioReliance, two small companies in San Diego, Calif., and CellzDirect, a Durham, N.C. subsidiary of Life Technologies Corp.

The EPA's goal is to reduce the agency's reliance on slow and expensive animal toxicity tests, enabling chemicals to be screened more quickly to predict and identify potential risks. Unlike animal testing, the CeeTox method does testing on individual animal and human cells, cutting costs by thousands for each test and shrinking turnaround time from up to six weeks to about a week.

Founded in 2003, CeeTox was the first company to move into the BTR Park's Southwest Michigan Innovation Center. CeeTox employs 32 people and has 10,500 square feet of lab space. It plans to hire up to a dozen new employees in the next six months.

Prior to wining the EPA contract, the company secured past support from WMU's Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center. WMU announced recently that companies that have secured BRCC support from the BRCC's initial $10 million of state funding to invest in startups were able to leverage that support into more than $100 million in additional funding from investors, federal grants and other funding sources. The CeeTox EPA award sends that total soaring to more than $125 million.

To continue the BRCC's support for life science startups, the Michigan Strategic Fund announced in July it will make an additional $3.8 million investment to the center.

For more information on CeeTox, visit