As one of many communities vying for the reputation as an upcoming hotbed of biotechnology research, one of central Indiana’s claims to fame is the Indiana Centers for Applied Protein Sciences. Founded in January 2004 with $7.2 million, including over $3 million from Indianapolis neighbor Eli Lilly and with pledges for business from other regional life science companies and universities, INCAPS — as the laboratories are known — has advertised itself as a provider of proteomics tools and services to the Midwest.
Now INCAPS has a new hire to help lead the way forward, wherever that may be. Jean-Pierre Wery, a former Eli Lilly scientist and manager, returns to Indianapolis to serve as INCAPS’s chief scientific officer after a two-year stint as vice president for computational drug discovery at Vitae Pharmaceuticals, a Philadelphia-based startup drug discovery company. Wery, a scientist originally from Belgium with training in X-ray crystallography, says he was drawn to INCAPS by the quality of the people and the opportunity to oversee the science there — and to be near his family, which stayed in Indianapolis while he worked in Philadelphia.
Although INCAPS is still building its arsenal of proteomics tools and technologies, Wery says the center can offer a range of protein analysis services, ranging from detecting low-abundance proteins, to characterizing post-translational modifications, to biomarker discovery. The mass spectrometry resources include a MALDI-TOF, ESI Q-TOF, several Thermo Finnigan ion trap spectrometers, and an Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex QTRAP — a hybrid triple quadrupole and linear ion trap instrument. In addition, the center licensed proprietary statistics software from Lilly for data analysis, Wery says. Currently, INCAPS operates with 16 staff scientists and technicians.
While other proteomics service providers have fallen by the wayside, Wery is confident that INCAPS can support itself while continuing to invest in new technology. “We assess the demand for a particular technology before investing in it,” Wery says. “If we think demand is great enough to finance the expansion, then we invest in it.” To help market the center’s services outside the greater Indianapolis region, INCAPS has also hired Lauri Caviston as vice president of business development, sales, and marketing.
— John S. MacNeil