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DNA Sciences Sacks CEO, Plans to Lay Off Half its Staff

NEW YORK, Sept. 19 – DNA Sciences has sacked its chairman and CEO, Hugh Reinhoff, last week and intends to lay off roughly half of its workforce, GenomeWeb learned late on Wednesday.

Steve Lehrer, 41, formerly chief business officer at DNA Sciences, assumed the duties of chairman and CEO on Sept. 10.

There were no other changes at the executive level, the company said.

The spokeswoman also confirmed with GenomeWeb that DNA Sciences, a privately held company based in Fremont, Calif., intends to lay off “approximately 50 percent” of its workforce.

The firm currently employs 175 individuals, the spokeswoman said. “A majority” of the layoffs will come from the company’s Fremont facility, most of whom work in “fundamental genomic research,” or genetic discovery, she said.

The change at the helm reflects the wishes of DNA Sciences’ board “to align existing resources more closely with revenue-generating activities,” the spokeswoman said. “We will continue to pursue the commercial opportunities through our DNA Sciences Laboratories business, and the pharmacogenetic research activities that the company undertakes.”

In other words, DNA Sciences has decided to move from a traditional genomic platform to one that develops and commercializes diagnostic and drug-discovery products.

To that end, DNA Sciences plans to increase by 25 percent the staff of its DNA Sciences Laboratories division “within the next few months” to help “support pharmaceutical development,” the spokeswoman said.

DNA Sciences Laboratories, formerly known as PPGx, conducts clinical genotyping, assay development and validation, target validation, allele frequency determination, and polymorphism discovery, according to DNA Sciences.

In a statement released in June to coincide with the PPGx name change, Reinhoff said that the DNA Sciences business is intended to commercialize products that result from the parent company’s discovery efforts.

“As genetics becomes integrated into the drug discovery and development process, we anticipate our clinical laboratories business to grow aggressively,” he said then.