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Post-Vysis Bishop Sees Hope at Cepheid for Real-time Diagnostics

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John Bishop had the option to stay at Vysis after it was purchased by Abbott Laboratories for about $355 million. “But of course once you’ve successfully spun a company out and taken it public and run it in the market, you’re still not going to be functioning as a CEO [at a subsidiary],” says Bishop, former Vysis CEO and president. He considered several alternatives, but the role of CEO at Cepheid was too appealing to pass up. “What Cepheid offered was something where I could make an immediate contribution. … Being on the leading edge of medicine, that’s a hard thing to walk away from.”

At 57, the Miami native is in the midst of relocating from Chicago to California as he plunges into the new position. Relying on his experience from Vysis as well as a background in nucleic acid and probe technologies that started in 1984, Bishop feels that Cepheid’s a good fit. “I already know the markets and the technologies very, very well.” In the near term, he’ll focus on getting the company’s key product, GeneXpert, to market, which he expects to happen by early next year.

Bishop anticipates Cepheid’s success to follow on the flash of fame generated last year by its anthrax tests. Current methods for gene expression and detection, he says, are often costly and time-consuming. The challenge is to “make that available on a less complex and extremely simple procedure, but on a real-time basis — results in less than 30 minutes. That’s what they’ve already demonstrated in this ability to detect the organisms involved in the case of anthrax,” he says.

The potential, he believes, “is being able to take the genetic information, process [it], and give a response while the patient is on the operating table.”

— Meredith Salisbury

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