Originally posted on www.bizjournals.com on May 24, 2023 by Nate Doughty
Officials with Castle Biosciences celebrate the grand opening of the biotech firm’s new 20,000-square-foot office and lab space in the North Side’s Nova Place complex. Photo by Nate Doughty of Pittsburgh Business Times.
A Houston-based biotech firm celebrated the grand opening of its new 20,000-square-foot office and lab space (designed by R3A Architecture) in the North Side’s Nova Place facility on Wednesday, becoming one of the largest tenants at the revitalized building that had previously served as a sprawling mall complex.
But the permanent expansion in Pittsburgh for Castle Biosciences Inc., which acquired Harmar-based biotech firm Cernostics for at least $30 million in 2021, could grow beyond its current footprint to over 40,000 square feet in the coming years as the company plans to add to its local workforce, a figure at present that stands at 35 employees. According to Derek Maetzold, president and CEO of Castle Biosciences (NASDAQ: CSTL), the company will ideally employ up to 70 local workers by year’s end, adding to its overall workforce of about 600 people across its Texas- and Phoenix-based locations.
“We could have easily said, let’s move people to Phoenix,” Maetzold said. “And the reality is that once you see the sort of quality of the original 12 or 13 people who were working at [Cernostics] — all of whom came over, by the way — and looked at the talent pool around Pittsburgh and sort of the lack of, I would say, competitive talent … if they want a chance to work in laboratory medicine, but do it on the industrial side, there’s not much to compete against here.”
Maetzold said from Castle’s perspective, the decision to grow in Nova Place, and Pittsburgh more broadly, “was perfect” given its location and that its prior shell-like state allowed for the company to tailor the space to its exact specifications.
Now, Maetzold said, the local challenge for the company is to try and bring more awareness to the “Castle name,” as he described it.
“We need to have people so when they think about ‘I’d like to make a change what I’m doing day-to-day at Company X or UPMC or Allegheny [Health Network] or somewhere else,'” Maetzold said. “And I have to wonder if they can say, ‘I have an inkling about this company called Castle. Maybe I know people around there’ and hopefully, this becomes a good recruiting vehicle.”
Castle specializes in creating precision medicine products for dermatology and cancer screenings. The acquisition of Cernostics and its artificial intelligence and spatial biology-powered esophageal cancer prediction product called Tissue Cypher expanded Castle’s product line, of which Maetzold has said that Tissue Cypher alone could generate $1 billion in annual revenue in the next few years.
“We are so pleased to call Pittsburgh home,” Maetzold said, noting that the city joins a list of its other homes elsewhere. “The Pittsburgh location to me is very, very purposeful, it’s very intentional, and we are pleased as a company, as an employee base, to call Pittsburgh home. We have three homes by the way, and I’m not sure which one is first, second or third. We just call them all home.”