From his new office at Illumina’s headquarters north of San Diego, Scott Kahn can look across as the crow flies at the Accelrys facilities where he served until recently as CSO. But Kahn, who joined Illumina in early April as vice president and chief informatics officer, isn’t dwelling on the past. In fact, he says his move to Illumina was driven more by his interest in the opportunity to take on new challenges there than events at Accelrys.
In his new position, Kahn will be responsible for overseeing software and bioinformatics development for Illumina’s gene expression and genotyping analysis products, as well as the company’s IT infrastructure, he says. “For me, I’ve had a longstanding interest in pharmacogenomics technologies, and this was an opportunity to participate in that,” Kahn says. “It’s a new position [that Illumina’s] been looking to fill for quite a while. … Our planets aligned.”
In particular, Kahn’s portfolio will include building Illumina’s ability to provide its customers with informatics work flows for integrating whole genome expression and large-scale genotyping studies using the company’s BeadArray platform with follow-up mapping and association studies, he says. Currently, Illumina sells robotics and LIMS technology to accompany its bead-based array systems, but Kahn says there’s much more the company can do in terms of bioinformatics capabilities to encourage customers to adopt its platform.
Part of this effort will involve working with collaborators to make new software programs available to researchers using Illumina’s BeadArray, Oligator DNA synthesis, and other laboratory platforms, Kahn says. “In fairly abstract terms, we’re looking at how to bring in outside informatics [expertise], so we can leverage collaborators’ software,” he says.
Kahn, whose doctoral work was in theoretical organic chemistry, has spent more than 14 years in the software industry. Before taking over responsibilities for chemistry and life sciences software as CSO of Accelrys, he worked at BioCAD and Molecular Simulations in various product development and marketing roles.
— John S. MacNeil