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Paradigm, Not Golf Courses, Lures Bullard for Comp Bio

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Brian Bullard has made a career of “bringing science to the point of commercialization.” That career is marked by several startup-to-startup jumps, but this time, he says he’s settling down.

Last seen at Morphochem, Bullard, 39, is the new senior director of computational systems biology at Paradigm Genetics. The primary focus is to use what’s publicly available in pathway informatics and linkage data and then tie it in with what Paradigm generates internally, particularly gene expression studies and chemical informatics.

For systems biology — or, as Bullard sees it, getting a higher-resolution view of what’s going on throughout an organism — “biochemical profiling is one of the key components,” he says. “That gets you to the functional understanding, and it integrates very nicely and enhances what you can obtain from genomics and proteomics.”

Bullard, an avid golfer whose friends were quick to notice that his new North Carolina home falls within five miles of no fewer than four golf courses, got his start far from life sciences. A native of New Mexico, his career began at the White Sands Missile Range studying atmospheric physics. But his physics contacts ushered him into a new realm where the “the type of data and even the type of instruments used” was strikingly similar: genomics. Armed with a computational background, he was one of the earliest employees at Gene Logic, heading up the new company’s database efforts.

He moved back to New Mexico to work for another startup, Molecular Informatics. After a couple of years, he joined Axcell Biosciences as vice president and CIO and left to be VP of informatics at Morphochem, where he was to integrate genomics into a chemistry-driven drug discovery approach. That lasted less than a year, though, as the company pulled back its efforts to its European roots in poor market conditions.

“It has been exciting to have the opportunity to go from startup to startup,” Bullard says. “But that’s not by design.”