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HP, Biogen, Agilent Among New Recruits for Informatics Consortium I3C

TORONTO, June 10 - The Interoperable Informatics Infrastructure Consortium has signed on Hewlett-Packard, Biogen, Agilent, and the California state university system, an I3C official told GenomeWeb today.


He also said the group, which formally incorporated in February, is closing a membership agreement with the University of Manchester in the UK. It was not immediately clear in what way any of the new members will participate in R&D, or even when they will likely begin.


Still, I3C founders Sun Microsystems, IBM, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Avaki, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Incogen, LabBook, and the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genomic Research likely breathed a sigh of relief when the new recruits agreed to sign on the dotted line.


From its early days in 2001, the I3C was plagued by disinterest from colleagues in informatics and the life sciences--two segments at the heart of I3C's goal of linking and guiding great gobs of genomic data from peers worldwide. Morrie Ruffin, vice president for co-founder BIO, said that though the road to sector-wide recognition is far from over, it certainly has gotten a tad less bumpy.


"We're still in boot-strap mode so it's bound to take a little while longer before things start moving," he said, referring to the I3C's ongoing search for an executive director and the continuing hunt for new members. "Initially the concept was met with some skepticism, but the fact that we have been able to hold on to Sun and IBM" hopefully helps to clear up the question of its utility, he said.


Tim Clark, a Millennium executive and interim chairman of I3C, said the consortium is particularly interested in bringing on board informatics and proteomics groups from the private, public, academic, governmental, or nonprofit sectors.


Both men spoke to GenomeWeb following an I3C product-release news conference at the BIO 2002 meeting here today.


Dues for membership--the I3C's chief method of income--range from $1,000 for small nonprofits to $50,000 for large biotech companies.


"We're well positioned now to really take off," said Ruffin. "The biggest challenge we have now is to keep the troops motivated until we find an executive director to lead us."

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