If you go from never having heard of Gene Logic to information overload on the company’s technology, it’s a safe bet that Loralyn Mears is the one to blame. The new vice president for genomics alliances, Mears aims to help get Gene Logic’s tools into the previously untapped academic market, while continuing to get the word out to potential pharma and biotech partners.
Mears started out a long way from cultivating collaborations. She cut her teeth doing mosquito research and completed her doctorate in molecular biology at Case Western Reserve University.
The private sector was just a short hop away, and Mears left academia to work at the Ohio-based startup NetGenics, which would later be acquired by Lion Bioscience. She moved to Sun Microsystems, where her job was “to start gathering information to justify that Sun should have a formalized business unit” in the life sciences arena. Four months later, in what Mears says was the fastest business-unit launch in the company’s history, Sun kicked off its life sciences sector. With that, Mears “progressed to having more and more of a role in driving the strategies as well as [starting] partnerships.”
One of Sun’s partners, Gene Logic, appealed to her interest in working on more than pure IT; it didn’t hurt that her former NetGenics boss, Dennis Rossi, was managing Gene Logic’s genomics and toxicogenomics division. Mears says Rossi had done a lot to make the technology more accessible to more customers, such as “debundling” the database so a company focused on oncology, for instance, could pay just to access the oncology data rather than paying for the full database.
That, in addition to other business model changes the company has made in the past few years, paved the way for major partnerships, including an alliance with GE Healthcare. Enter Mears, who was recruited after more than five years at Sun “to take the leadership position with [the GE] relationship,” as well as to figure out how to get the Gene Logic database into the hands of users in other markets — scientific, industrial, and geographic, she says. If all goes as planned, Mears adds, her efforts will propel the technology “into biotech and into academia,” she says.
— Meredith Salisbury