Charles River Laboratories

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Charles River Laboratories, Inc.
Traded asNYSECRL
S&P 400 Component
IndustryPharmaceutical/medical devices
Founded1947; 72 years ago (1947)
HeadquartersWilmington, Massachusetts
Key people
James C. Foster (CEO)

Charles River Laboratories, Inc., is an American corporation specializing in a variety of preclinical and clinical laboratory services for the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology industries.[1] It also supplies assorted biomedical products and research and development outsourcing services for use in the pharmaceutical industry. According to its website, its customers include leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agrochemical, government, and academic organization around the globe.[2]

The chairman and chief executive officer is James C. Foster, the son of founder Henry Foster.


Charles River was founded in 1947 by Henry Foster, a young veterinarian who purchased one thousand rat cages from a Virginia farm and set up a one-man laboratory in Boston, overlooking the Charles River. In an effort to fulfill the regional need for laboratory animal models, he bred, fed, and cared for the animals and personally delivered them to local researchers.

In 1955, the company's headquarters were relocated to their current home in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

The organization became an international entity in 1966 with the opening of a new animal production facility in France.

The first commercial, comprehensive genetic monitoring program was implemented by Charles River in 1981. Three years later, they were acquired by Bausch & Lomb. During this time, Henry and Jim Foster are still in charge of the company.

In 1988, the organization started to expand their portfolio to include the creation of transgenic mice and rats.

In the 1990s, Charles River expanded their portfolio further. They purchased Specific Pathogen Antigen Free Avian Services (SPAFAS) and serologic diagnostic services Merck, Sharp, and Dohme in 1992 and started offering in vitro endotoxin testing two years later.

Between 1996 and 2000, the company acquired Endosafe, Inc., was bought back from Bausch & Lomb by Jim Foster, acquired Sierra Biomedical, expanded its portfolio to offer biopharmaceutical services, and went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Charles River launched the Humane Care Imperative in 2002, designed to raise awareness and train their employees on the importance of animal welfare. The same year, they were named "Company of the Year" by The Boston Globe. The company then introduced preconditioning services in 2005 to provide their customers with study-ready animals.

In 2008, Charles River signs a ten-year contract to partner with the National Cancer Institute and opens a facility in Frederick, Maryland.

From 2008-2013, Charles River acquires several companies including NewLab Bioquality AG, MIR Preclinical Services, Piedmont Research Center, LLC, Cerebricon, Ltd., Accugenix, and Vital River, allowing the company to expand their research models and services portfolio to drug development and discovery markets in China.

The acquisitions of Argenta and BioFocus in 2014 allowed Charles River to establish themselves as a full-service, early-stage contract research organization with integrated in vitro and in vivo capabilities from target discovery through preclinical development.

Today, Charles River has over 80 facilities, operates in 20 countries, and employs over 14,000 people worldwide. They offer support in the fields of basic research, drug discovery, safety and efficacy, clinical support, and manufacturing.

The company's broad portfolio allowed them to support the development of approximately 85% of FDA-approved drugs in 2018.[3]


In October 2003, Charles River Laboratories merged with Inveresk, a research company based in the United Kingdom. The company was known then as Charles River Laboratories. Inveresk specialised in clinical research and pre-clinical testing, and their main facilities are in Edinburgh, Scotland.[citation needed] In late 2009, Charles River sold its Clinical Services Division in Edinburgh to Quotient Bioresearch.[citation needed]

In 2010, Charles River Laboratories attempted to acquire WuXi PharmaTech, a China-based contract research organization, but the offer was withdrawn when the deal faced opposition from several large Charles River investors, including Relational Investors, JANA Partners, and Neuberger Berman.[citation needed] Proxy advisory firm RiskMetrics had also recommended that Charles River's shareholders vote against the proposed deal.[citation needed]

In July 2015, the company announced it would acquire Celsis International for $212 million.[4]

In January 2016, the company announced it was set to acquire WIL Research for approximately $585 million in cash.[5] In June, the company announced it would acquire Blue Stream Laboratories.[6]

In August 2017, the business announced it would acquire Brains On-Line.[7]

In January 2018, the company announced it would acquire KWS BioTest for up to £18 million ($24.4 million).[8]In February of the same year, Charles River announced it would acquire MPI Research for approximately $800 million in cash.[9] The transaction was completed on April 3, 2018.[10]

In February 2019, the company announced it would acquire Citoxlab for €448 million in cash (approximately $500 million).[11] The transaction was completed on April 29.[12]

Animal rights issues[edit]

The company has been the target of animal rights activists in the UK and US. It owned Shamrock Farm in England's West Sussex which closed in 2000 following a 15-month campaign by animal rights activists.[13][14]

In 2007, two monkeys at the company’s Sparks, Nevada, facility had their fingers amputated after they were caught in the wiring of their cages while being moved, and a third monkey suffered a cut to its tail.[15]

In 2008, 32 cynomolgus primates, also known as crab-eating macaques, died of overheating at the company's Sparks, Nevada, laboratory after a climate system failure. PETA filed a complaint with the USDA over the incident. The following year, a monkey died at the same facility after being left in their cage as it was going through a hot cage washer. Charles River was fined $14,500 for the two incidents. The company subsequently closed their Sparks facility.[15][16]

PETA owns $2,000 worth of shares in the company, enough to introduce formal resolutions regarding animal care during the company’s annual shareholder meeting.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christensen, Carl Roland. Business Policy: Text and Cases. R.D. Irwin, 1982, p. 54.
  2. ^ "Charles River At A Glance" Archived January 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Charles River Laboratories.
  3. ^ "About Us". Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  4. ^ "Charles River Buys Celsis for $212M". GEN.
  5. ^ "Charles River Labs to Acquire WIL Research for $585M". GEN.
  6. ^ "Charles River Laboratories Acquires Blue Stream Laboratories". Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  7. ^ "Brains On-Line acquired by Charles River Laboratories". Bioanalysis Zone. August 16, 2017. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  8. ^ "Charles River Labs Acquires KWS BioTest". GEN - Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. January 11, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  9. ^ "Charles River to acquire MPI Research for $800M, posts 10% 2017 revenue growth". Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "Charles River Laboratories Completes the Acquisition of MPI Research". (Press release). April 3, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  11. ^ "Charles River Laboratories Signs Binding Offer to Acquire Citoxlab". Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  12. ^ "Charles River Labs - Investor Relations - News Release". Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  13. ^ Barnett, Anthony; Ridley, Yvonne (May 8, 1999). "Monkey farm 'death trail' exposed". The Guardian. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  14. ^ "Protest site monkey farm to close". Coventry Evening Telegraph. March 11, 2000. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Ghastly Slaughter of Research Monkeys Prompts Calls for Oversight". Fox News. Associated Press. March 17, 2010. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  16. ^ Sonner, Scott (December 14, 2012). "Animal deaths spark call for fining of Nevada, other testing labs". Las Vegas Review Journal. Associated Press. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  17. ^ Cooper, Warren (December 26, 2012). "PETA takes on Merck, Pfizer animal testing policies". NJN Publishing. Retrieved September 3, 2015.