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From Contract Sequencing to Contract Research? GTC Appears to be Getting in Gear

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Former AmericasDoctor CEO Steven Rauscher and head of Aventis global lead generation Richard Labaudinière are the new top dogs at Genome Therapeutics. Rauscher, GTC’s new CEO, says his hire — as well as that of new senior vice president Labaudinière — is “part of a strategy that was really defined and articulated some time ago.” He says, “We really are looking to move the company forward in discovery research and downstream clinical development.”

Rauscher is a seven-year veteran of GTC’s board. His importance, says Andrew Scott, an M.H. Meyerson analyst, lies in his knowledge of contract research organizations.

Though Genome Therapeutics has not confirmed this, Scott says Wall Street expects the company to enter clinical trials in the next three or four months. “They wouldn’t hire a guy with [Rauscher’s] background and experience if they didn’t think they would go into clinical trials,” says Scott.

Rauscher’s strategy for getting to the next (albeit ill-defined) level includes boosting GTC’s image. “In part because the company has been around for a long time it hasn’t attracted as much attention from the investment community,” he says.

The major accomplishment attributed to GTC is its number of long-term, successful alliances, mostly with big pharma firms. But the era of forming new collaborations with those companies may be ending. With the partnerships Rauscher envisions — such as its recent alliance with Arqule — GTC will no longer farm out services without further participation. “Now we’ll be actively involved in the marketing of our products,” he explains. Rauscher gives no specific targets of GTC’s quest for alliances, but says, “at any one point we’re talking to more than half a dozen companies.”

Essential to discovery research is the discovery guy. With a background in chemistry, Labaudinière has spent 16 years in big pharma companies. He’ll head up GTC’s research and development efforts, which include continuing work on the company’s internal technology for SNP detection. Labaudinière says one of his goals is for GTC to be “a company with some potential drugs to be on the market.” He expects GTC to focus on antibacterial, asthma, and osteoporosis drugs.

In a way, Labaudinière comes full circle by joining GTC. Pharma firms, he explains, start with drug discovery and incorporate genomics. After being on that side for years, he’s now starting with genomics and adding the drug discovery.

—Meredith Salisbury

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