Quintiles, the world’s largest life science services firm, which recently laid off some 40 people in Research Triangle Park and others across the company, plans to expand its own work force in Switzerland even as Merck cuts back.

The two firms said Tuesday that Triangle-based Quintiles is committed to hire “at least 100” Merck Serono employees. Some 500 are being laid off by the Merck unit while another 700 are transferred to Germany.

Quintiles, which has several hundred job openings posted, will begin interviewing candidates next month and will make the hires over the next three months.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Quintiles, and we are very pleased that at least 100 of our Geneva-based employees will be offered the opportunity to work with this trusted partner,” said François Naef, chairman of the Board of Directors of Merck Serono. “We will continue our discussions with a wide range of third parties to identify additional job opportunities for affected employees. We hope to announce other initiatives in the near future.”

Quintiles is looking to hire in clinical operations, biostatistics, clinical research, and drug safety.

“We are always looking for highly qualified drug development experts with extensive biopharma industry experience, such as those we now have the opportunity to add from Merck Serono,” said Paula Brown Stafford, president of Clinical Development for Quintiles. “This is another example of our ability to help biopharma companies transform to succeed in the New Health [Quintiles’ marketing slogan]. By adding excellent employees from Merck Serono, we can put their talents to use on expanded clinical work with Merck Serono, and also make their expertise available to other biopharma companies. This is one way Quintiles is helping improve the efficiency, quality and speed of clinical development.”

[QUINTILES ARCHIVE: Check out a decade of Quintiles stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]