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Ebioinformatics Acquires Empatheon, Forms Entigen

NEW YORK, Dec 13 – Ebioinformatics announced Wednesday that it has acquired life sciences data integration company Empatheon and changed its name to Entigen.

Entigen will continue to focus on bioinformatics but also plans to expand into new markets, which may include other scientific computing areas, said James Nelson, vice president of product marketing at Entigen. “We’re looking at many horizons,” he said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Initially the acquisition had been valued at $11 million but Nelson declined to comment on the price.

With the purchase, Empatheon’s CEO Bala Manian has become Entigen’s chairman.   Manian founded Biometric Imaging, Digital Optics, Lumisys, and Molecular Dynamics (now owned by Amersham Pharmacia Biotech).

Geoff Brooks, formerly eBioinformatics’ chairman, willingly gave up his role as chairman but retains a seat on the board, said Nelson. No layoffs are expected.

“It basically was a complete acquisition on our side but one that was wanted by Empatheon as much as it was by us. We’re calling it a merger but essentially we took all of their assets and people into our company,” said Nelson, who held the same title at eBioinformatics.

The combination brings together Empatheon’s data management and access technology with eBioinformatics’ domain knowledge, Nelson said. Empatheon provides software that gives real-time access to public and private genomic and proteomic data.

Nelson said that the merged company will enhance its BioNavigator bioinformatics application by enabling real-time integration of up-to-date biological data from disparate sources. Nelson declined to say exactly how this will be done.   

Entigen maintains that existing data warehouses are not able to supply information to researchers in real-time because such approaches typically require scientists to use various software systems to access multiple data sources to get all pertinent data.

The data warehouse framework also inhibits real-time access to biological databases as they grow because database managers have to gather, reformat, and integrate new biological data, and republish their databases at intervals, said Nelson.  

Entigen plans to rectify this through Empatheon’s set of Java-based applications called Adaapt (Advanced Dynamic Access, Analysis, and Personalization Technology).

Adaapt’s applications take the place of a data warehouse and enable access to databases through one browser-based graphical user interface. Java applications also upgrade the user interface automatically, to inform users that new life science databases have entered the application service.

Ebioinformatics, formerly of Pleasanton, Calif., has moved into Empatheon’s offices in Sunnyvale, Calif. The shareholders from both companies have approved the merger.

Empatheon was founded as iBrain in October 1996 to develop and commercialize Adaapt.

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