Following on the heels of Eric Neumann and Joanne Luciano, Nat Goodman is the third bioinformatics expert in as many months to say sayonara to the Cambridge, Mass., consultancy 3rd Millennium. Goodman, 49, who was the company’s senior vice president for eight months, says his departure is unrelated to those of his colleagues and that “it was clear from the first day I went to work for them that it was a mistake.”
As any reader of this magazine’s IT Guy column knows, Goodman isn’t shy about expressing his point of view. And, he admits, that trait didn’t always put him in the boss’s favor. “We did not agree on essentially anything from day one,” says Goodman of his relationship with 3rd Millennium’s president, Richard Dweck.
Asked if the string of departures signifies trouble for 3rd Millennium, Eric Meyers, vice president of marketing and business development, says absolutely not. “The company is having a record year and we have more clients than we’ve ever had. It turns out that each of those three folks were involved in this pathways program that was run by Nat and there were problems within that particular program. Nat has been in this field a long time. We’re sorry it didn’t work out and we wish him the best of luck going forward.”
Of his own series of job changes since 1999 — from directing a bioinformatics group at the Jackson Laboratory to leading a bioinformatics marketing team at Compaq Computer to independent consulting to his post at 3rd Millennium — Goodman concedes, “You can look at it and say, ‘Boy, he’s done a lot of interesting things,’ or, ‘Boy, he has a short attention span.’” Before his three-year stint in Bar Harbor, Maine, Goodman spent five and a half years running Eric Lander’s bioinformatics core at the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research, which he helped found.
As for what’s next: through 2001, Goodman will keep himself busy in Boston consulting, writing research papers, perhaps doing a little pro bono work, and searching the Seattle classifieds. By the New Year, if all goes according to plan, he and his wife, a family practice physician, will relocate to Washington where their two oldest children are in graduate school. Asked what his ideal setup in Seattle would be, Goodman says, “I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by people who are very smart and aggressive about putting their opinions forward. But not everybody agrees, obviously.”
— Adrienne Burke