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One Foot Still Planted at JGI, Hawkins Moves to Amersham

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It’s a bittersweet departure for Trevor Hawkins, director of the Joint Genome Institute, as he segues into his new role as senior vice president of genomics at Amersham Biosciences. Despite his achievements at JGI such as building a high-throughput, low-cost sequencing center, Hawkins, 34, says he regrets not securing more funding from agencies such as USDA, NIH, NSF, and NASA. “That was always my dream — to turn us into a national resource where we had funding from a number of different agencies and we were working on programs with different agencies.”

But it’ll take a step away for Hawkins to fulfill another of his dreams: running a company. “I realized more and more that my true interests lay in the corporate world, not in running a government institution,” he says. “My aspirations are to be able to run corporations and so I need to be able to learn how to run business development and marketing and sales and so on, and those are things I can’t do [at JGI].”

Hawkins’ transition will be gradual. Starting March 1, he splits his time between the two offices, beginning with about 20 percent at Amersham’s Sunnyvale, Calif., office. He’ll increase that over the following months as JGI hunts for a new director. “My goal is that we have a smooth transition,” he says. “I will do everything in my ability to ensure that.” Earlier transitions may not have been as smooth: when Hawkins joined JGI from CuraGen, he cut 25 percent of the staff, including most of senior management.

In his role at Amersham, where he’ll manage 300 people, Hawkins will help guide the company in its push to link genomics with healthcare applications.

— Ken Howard

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