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New PE CSO Seeks Bottlenecks, Cooks up Novel Technology

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For Neil Cook, the fun is in what you can’t do. His career has largely revolved around searching for the technology breakthroughs to solve problems that haven’t even cropped up yet.

Cook, the new CSO and vice president of life sciences R&D at PerkinElmer charged with coordinating the company’s global R&D efforts, says, “If you forecast far enough and accurately enough where the science is going, then you can usually specify the challenges ahead.”

The former vice president of corporate development at Amersham Biosciences, where he hung his hat for the last 15 years, Cook spent much of his career in R&D. But as the company went through the merger process with Pharmacia, he began working more and more on the corporate side, which eventually led to the new opportunity.

“PerkinElmer’s very keen that all of its functional heads have in-depth business experience,” says the 44-year-old father of four sons. With the company currently assimilating its more recent acquisitions, including Packard Bioscience, Cook will need all of his business experience to keep things in line.

“Everything now is moving to function,” he says. “Functional genomics, functional proteomics.” Cook, a UK native who has just moved to the US, believes his drug discovery background from Amersham will serve him in good stead as PerkinElmer faces new challenges from the field. He predicts that high-throughput microarrays will become important to the Massachusetts-based tools provider.

Cook expects to continue his practice of working with small companies and research universities to encourage advances. He says when he makes universities aware of the kinds of technology he’s looking for, they often go off and develop the solutions he’s been seeking. In addition to universities, he says, “In our industry, most of the innovation is coming from the small biotechnology companies.”

— Meredith Salisbury

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