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She's Got the Whole Data World in Her Plans

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Rowan Chapman has spent the past few months piecing together a world map, roughly two feet by four feet. But her map is a little different from most: it represents the world of data management, and it’s made up of lots of scraps of paper with notes in Chapman’s tiny handwriting on what each group is doing and what she expects to happen in the field.

As the new entrepreneur-in-residence at Mohr, Davidow Ventures, the former director of business development at Rosetta Inpharmatics is studying the whole scope of data management and storage in the life sciences industry. She’s looking for holes in the field — and where she finds one, MDV gives her the opportunity to start a company to fill the void. Since launching her own firm has been a long-term goal, Chapman couldn’t be more pleased. “I can’t believe I managed to get this job,” she says.

She had enjoyed her position at Rosetta, but after the Merck acquisition, she says, her job of building collaborations (especially with other pharma companies) came to a halt. Having done “pretty well” financially out of the deal but with no idea where she wanted to go, Chapman took some time off. “I went off to India for a month,” she says. “When you get these opportunities, you should take the time while you have it.”

Throughout, she mulled over the idea of working for MDV, which Rosetta board member and MDV partner Bill Ericson had proposed to her. She also considered going to another biotech or a VC firm, but just “couldn’t stop thinking about [MDV],” she says. After finally making the decision, she settled on data management as her focus. “A big part of it is actually talking to groups of people who don’t normally talk to each other” — for example, consulting computer scientists about potential solutions to life sciences computing problems.

Though it’s close to a think-tank job, the position is still keeping Chapman active. Based in Seattle, she visits MDV headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., at least once a week.

 

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