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Mahoney Evades Medicine, Heads for Epoch


The flight from Seattle to Hayward, Calif., is only two hours long, to the relief of Walt Mahoney. In January, Mahoney was hired as the senior vice president of R&D for Epoch Biosciences in Washington, but will continue to work one day a week at Quantum Dot, where he’s chief scientific officer. “Coming to Seattle was due, actually, to health and my family. My parents are in the area. My mother has had some medical issues and I thought it would be nice at this time in her life to be home,” Mahoney says.

Though putting his family first, Mahoney, 50, didn’t feel he was compromising by taking the position at Epoch. “I want to be associated with somebody that’s moving and changing science and creating discontinuities, not just sort of milking science for what they can get, but doing exciting things that can get my heart rate up and that I can get my arms around. Especially technologies that break rules.”

And for Mahoney, Epoch fits the mold. “I was quite impressed with what they’re doing to actually improve hybridization kinetics with DNA. A lot of people play around with oligos but they don’t really dig into the chemistry to actually make changes to the system.”

Epoch was formerly Microprobe, which was involved in “a pretty serious patent dispute with Genprobe,” Mahoney says, and he joins the senior management team in a newly created position to help the company refocus. He will help determine Epoch’s business model and nature of its technology, products, and licensing. “But my real role is to deliver the technology to fit where the overall company is going,” he says.

Mahoney has also worked for Roche and Boehringer Mannheim. While he’s had a successful career in research, his medical skills have languished, perhaps for the greater good. “My love is research, and I think that’s actually where I’m good. On the medicine side, I think I was sort of bored.”

— Diana Jong


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