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Crossing Over, DiaGenic, Affymetrix

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In Genome Technology one year ago, we brought you the stories of several people who have experienced both sides of the industry/academia divide. We heard from those who have “crossed over” — sometimes more than once — and outlined the benefits and peculiarities of science work in both settings.

It was in this article last year that Michael Liebman, director of the Windber Institute and former pharma scientist, waxed Socratic when he advised that researchers ought to know themselves before making the decision to jump from whatever ship they’re aboard. As he said at the time, “They have to know … if they like things versus principles.”

Brian Gilman, an academic researcher turned startup pioneer of Panther Informatics, also shared his advice for those seeking a lab to call home. For those who are considering a move away from academia, he said that it’s a good idea to evaluate one’s threshold for the stress of high-risk situations and the possibility of failure. Gilman, who clearly thrives on embarking on new projects, has just launched SciLink, a social networking site for the scientific community. Check out p. 10 for more on this new resource.

It was also one year ago that DiaGenic first announced its intention to use ABI’s technology to narrow down a list of biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. This year, the Norwegian firm announced its plans to market an assay specifically for research use by the end of the year, just as soon as the peripheral blood-based test has been validated. For more on DiaGenic’s test, as well as other profiles of people and companies investigating the genomics and proteomics of research on the brain, see the cover story beginning on p. 23.

Back in October 2001, Genome Technology visited the headquarters of Affymetrix to talk with Sue Siegel, who was then two years into her post as president of the company. Before this appointment, Siegel served as Affy’s vice president of marketing and sales. For this position, Siegel was personally courted by Affy CEO Steve Fodor, who was acutely aware of the company’s need to become more receptive and responsive to customer feedback. Hiring Siegel was one critical step in Affy’s image makeover, spurred in part by the increasingly competitive array landscape.

The times have continued to change for the array giant. Faced with rising costs, drooping sales, and growing competition, Fodor recently called 2006 “the single most challenging year for Affymetrix in [its] 13 year history.” Earlier this year, Siegel resigned from her post as president, but has stayed on as an advisor to the company. Thane Kreiner is now serving as senior vice president of marketing and sales, while Richard Rava has been appointed head of product development.

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