Before Greg Phelps moved to Ardais in late December, he hadn’t heard a lot about clinical genomics. In fact, in describing the concept, he refers to a company website that provides Ardais’ definition of the idea. “I probably should memorize that,” jokes Phelps, who has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering.
But the new CEO of three-year-old Ardais says the idea of working in clinical genomics — or the business of supplying tissue samples and microarrays, RNA derived from tissue samples, and immunohistochemistry services — attracted him partly because it was a new concept. Having spent most of his career in drug discovery and licensing drug discovery technology, Phelps says he was excited about the chance to lead a company that helps link molecular biology and genomics science with actual diseased samples.
Phelps says he was also encouraged to leave Dyax, where he most recently served as vice chairman, because he had an interest in taking a “broader role” in running a company. At Ardais, Phelps will attempt to expand its customer base of 20-odd pharma and biotech companies by diversifying the range of tissues it provides and tailoring its services to researchers looking to use its tissue samples in early-stage clinical studies. Phelps replaces Eric Gordon, who left Ardais last September and is now assembling the pieces for a new Boston-based drug discovery company.
Ardais is not Phelps’ first stint as CEO. As an entry into biotechnology in the mid-’80s, he was recruited to take the helm of Zymogenetics, a company involved in recombinant protein production, and later became CEO of Viagene. Previously, he worked for various divisions within Baxter Healthcare.
Phelps says he’ll soon have his elevator pitch for clinical genomics down to one minute, but after just six weeks on the job, he jokes, “if I were in the Sears Tower for a 20-minute elevator ride, I might be able to do it!”
— John S. MacNeil