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Restructuring at Celera Brings Changes to the Top

NEW YORK, June 13 - Celera's plans to create a drug-discovery staff must still be hammered out, but the company restructuring has already retooled the jobs of its human-genome leaders.


Eugene Myers, vice president of informatics research will continue to run discovery informatics, but he and his group will move to Applied Biosystems, which now distributes the Celera Discovery System gene-sequence databases.


Mark Adams, vice president for genome programs, will stay in the Celera informatics division but will refocus the group to study applications in drug discovery and development. He will also act as a liaison between the company's genomics and diagnostics divisions.


Ham Smith, senior scientist and director of DNA resources, will also stay with Celera and will be involved in "cutting-edge discovery projects," said spokesman Robert Bennett . "We'll give him the creative latitude to decide which projects he wants to get involved in."


Bennett also said Celera will shutter its studies in therapeutic vaccines, and that Senior VP for Biologics Stephen Hoffman, who has been leading this effort for the biologics group, would be leaving the company later in the summer. Other biologics staff would join the proteomics group.


In the interest of knitting together the company's diverse research groups, Information Systems VP John Reynders will lead a group to develop computing and analysis muscle for proteomics research.


Bennett said it was not yet clear how many new researchers would be hired in the company's shift to drug development. "It's hard to estimate," he said. "In the short term,  pharmacology and toxicology are the areas we'll go after first to beef up." He said the new researchers would most likely be split between the company's Rockville, Md., and South San Francisco, Calif. facilities.


On Tuesday, the company slashed staff by 16 percent and planned to bring on a new R&D chief to make the transition from genome sequencing to drug discovery and development.


Following Celera's Tuesday morning announcement, the share price slid slightly from an opening price of $12.90 to close at $12.07, a loss of 6 percent. Shares have remained flat since then and were trading at $12 midday Thursday.

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