Steven Smith and Albrecht Frauendorf just returned to their new posts at NimbleGen after spending several days in the company’s new facility in Iceland. It sounds like something out of a freshman hazing, but CEO Mike Treble points out that the average temperature in Reykjavik is actually higher than in NimbleGen’s Madison, Wis., base. “We’re building summer homes out there [in Iceland],” Treble jokes.
Smith, a 37-year-old avid bicyclist, is the new vice president of bioinformatics at the array company. His job includes designing array experiments, analyzing the data, and, particularly with respect to the new Iceland facility, making sure the LIMS runs smoothly. Smith says the flexibility of experiments at NimbleGen — where one can design an array, test it, and redesign it almost immediately — was very appealing. “We’re already creating more new designs on a weekly basis than about any other place on the planet,” he says.
Smith comes to NimbleGen from his own consulting company, Genesmith Informatics, which he started after leaving his former bioinformatics job at GCG when it became part of Oxford Molecular. “I’ve been in the field now for I guess 15 years,” he says. He originally worked with a bacterial genome project at a Harvard genomics lab.
At 38, Frauendorf has also seen his share of the industry. The new senior director of DNA array manufacturing, he’s been in DNA chemistry for more than a decade. He was previously at microarray firm Protogene, where he started out as a senior scientist but worked his way over to the management side.
A good chunk of Frauendorf’s time will be spent setting up the Iceland facility — good thing he loves hiking — which is where NimbleGen will manufacture its high- density arrays. Frauendorf has already been working on transferring synthesizers to the building, and he’ll be spending time with databases and documenting quality control procedures with an eye toward becoming ISO 9000 compliant. The strict methods of ISO 9000 are ones he leaves at work: in his free time, his interest in chaos theory has led him to analyze stock market data in an attempt to predict its moves. He expects to start investing and testing his theories soon, but quips, “maybe I’ll stick to hiking after that.”
— Meredith Salisbury