Make no bones about it, Gene Logic wants your attention. CEO Mark Gessler, 39, will do just about whatever it takes. In 1999, that meant playing on one of his personal hobbies: professional racing. He put Gene Logics name on the side of his car and, aside from racing it at 170 or 180 miles per hour, used it as a prop at an industry conference. Hey, it got more attention than the standard beige box on a table, he laughs.
These days, Gessler doesnt need the props. Since Merck acquired Rosetta, all eyes have been on five-year-old Gene Logic as a potential acquisition target.
Its certainly a valuable company, says Gessler. Were at the heart of the information business in the genomics sector, he says. As near as I can figure, there arent any competitors in our area.
No doubt competitors are lining up to say hes wrong. But they dont offer the unique package or content Gene Logic has, Gessler says. The companys strength is gene expression data and sequence and annotation information its product, databases. Subscribers include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Genentech.
Gene Logics selling point, Gessler explains, is the breadth of its data. We take tissue samples from operating rooms in the US and in Europe, he says. The samples are gathered under specific protocols and brought to the Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters, where scientists do a full pathology using Affys gene chips. The data is stored alongside clinical information for the patients. Gene Logic handles patient consent, anonymizes the data, and obtains IRB approval for all procedures.
The company focuses on oncology, cardiology, and CNS and metabolic diseases. With so many sources for tissue samples, its data collection covers entire stages of those diseases. Were talking about every stage of breast cancer and prostate cancer, Gessler says. [The idea is] to understand everything about those genes in every stage of cancer.
Its an idea people buy. Pharmaceutical companies subscribe to the companys databases at a current rate of between $14 million and $16 million for three years.
No matter how much Gessler talks about the company, hes noncommittal about the acquisition buzz. Heres a pharmaceutical company thats made a very significant investment to get expression data, he says. We have those elements in addition to the content that weve developed.
He covers his bases by saying that being acquired is always possible, but so is acquiring someone else. If it makes sense for our shareholders, well certainly consider it, Gessler says.