Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Enough Pharma -- DiMarchi Heads to IU

Premium

Richard DiMarchi has been working in the pharmaceutical industry longer than genomics has even been around. But that experience has given him an interesting perspective — looking at the growing field from within its ultimate dream customer, big pharma.

And now that he’s retiring from his post as group vice president for Lilly Research Laboratories and heading to Indiana University in Bloomington to be a tenured professor, he’ll be taking on the integration of genomics in a faster-paced environment.

DiMarchi spent 23 years at Lilly, which he joined after leaving Rockefeller University to help with the “insulin challenge”: developing the first recombinant DNA product. “I could see that biosynthesis was going to provide us a commercial engine for producing these things in large scale.” He has since been involved in developing some half-a-dozen recombinant DNA products and brought in high-throughput screening as well as genomics for rational drug design.

At 50, DiMarchi is ready for a new challenge. “The attraction of working in a less structured, more entrepreneurial environment was very appealing,” he says. He will continue his work studying structure activity, hoping to solve the drug transport problem that prevents proper absorption of large molecules. That could very well piggyback on genomics-based advances in recent years. “Through genomics we have a much better grasp of what the drug transporters are,” he says. “This field is just emerging.” DiMarchi also sees the possibility for startup opportunities from his own research.

IU is best known in the field for its $150-million-plus genomics initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment. DiMarchi isn’t a part of the initiative, but has a mandate to explore collaboration opportunities between the Bloomington campus and the Indianapolis-based medical center for the program.

Meanwhile, he doesn’t mind giving advice to all those in genomics trying to get in pharma’s back door. First things first: Don’t expect to sell off-the-shelf, and stick to problems in the here and now. “If you’re going to be successful in consummating these deals, you have to be an incredibly good listener,” DiMarchi says, “and then quite flexible in adapting your technology to solve a problem that pharma is struggling with.”

— Fingerprints by Meredith Salisbury

 

The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.