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PE Raids Roche

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PE’s recent raid of the upper ranks of Roche’s diagnostics division was likely a sign of what’s to come.

Last month PE reeled in three Roche execs who will ramp up the company’s molecular diagnostics division. Kathy Ordonez, who oversaw Roche Molecular’s rise to dominance in the PCR arena over the last nine years, is bringing two colleagues with her to PE: Tom White, Roche Molecular’s vice president of R&D, and John Sinensky, its vice president of genetics.

PE is counting on the PCR expertise of the three to help it build a new division to develop molecular-based DNA assays for diagnosing infectious diseases, genetic diseases, cancer, and drug response. PE CEO Tony White estimates the current market for these products at about $1.5 billion, and he expects that number to grow at a compound rate of 25 percent or better over the next 10 years—eventually a $10¯12 billion market.

The new diagnostic tools will be developed using Celera’s genomic database and will run on Applied Biosystems instruments. An HIV genotyping assay, which it expects to submit for FDA approval later this year, will be a starting point.

The new group will initially operate as a division of Applied Biosystems. But PE says it is considering spinning it out into a separate, publicly traded stock. With stock options and a new 80-acre site in Pleasanton, Calif., as bait, the new group shouldn’t have any trouble luring new hires to fill its remaining 200 jobs in the next 18 months.

—Marian Moser Jones