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At Lynx, Out With Russell, In With Corcoran -- and Money

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Lynx Therapeutics has had its share of management topsy-turvy lately. After the company laid off 30 percent of its staff, longtime CEO Norrie Russell resigned and was replaced by vice president Kevin Corcoran, who has been at Lynx for seven years.

Craig Taylor, chairman of Lynx’s board, says the change in leadership came as a consequence of the company’s narrowed focus in the wake of its new $22.6 million financing round and layoffs. “With the force reduction, [there were] two things we put on hold for development: One was a program called Megatype and another was our genomic discovery group,” says Taylor. “Norrie had been head of discovery at Zeneca prior to their merger [with Astra], and he came to Lynx because he was pretty jazzed about the discovery capabilities of MPSS.”

At Lynx, Russell planned to “move up the value chain and become a drug company,” Taylor says. “We really decided to become a good old-fashioned information and tool company and not move up the value chain and become a drug company. We are really not doing what he wanted to do.”

Corcoran, on the other hand, “has been involved in the development of MPSS from day one,” Taylor says. As VP of operations, he worked to cement relationships with DuPont and Takara Bio. He also served on the development team for the company’s MPSS sequencing and gene expression technology and has spearheaded development of next-generation MPSS instruments. Corcoran came to Lynx from Applied Biosystems, where he held both technical and management positions.

Since the company’s new funding round, which closed in mid-April, Lynx has signed MPSS genotyping agreements with the National Cancer Institute, the Institute for Systems Biology, and Wilex, a cancer-focused biopharmaceutical company based in Munich.

The new wave of contracts, Taylor says, reflect the company’s desire to start making money and turn cash flow positive before the funding runs out. “That’s what the company is going to be about: Making money, not making discoveries,” he says.

— Marian Moser Jones

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