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Turns Out You Can Buy Experience

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Structural GenomiX acquired some experience with the hires of Janice Culpepper as vice president of genomics and Doug Livingston as veep of chemistry and new technology. SGX management has “lots of biotech experience and some pharma experience,” Culpepper says. “It gives us a collective memory,” she adds, so it’s not as if everyone’s starting from scratch.

Culpepper, who describes SGX’s 75-person staff as “definitely in startup mode,” has a background in management. She spent the past five years building up Millennium Pharmaceuticals’ high-throughput sequencing group.

At SGX she’ll oversee robotics, technology improvements, acquisitions, and build a “really robust platform.” But one of her strengths will be her ability to use organizational decisions made at Millennium as a template. “I’m trying to do more long-range planning,” she says.

Livingston’s goal is more science-focused. As SGX’s repository of structural data accumulates, he will “use that knowledge to develop a much greater understanding of drug-protein interactions.”

Livingston’s experience is in synthetic organic chemistry, which is in high demand as SGX plans to move from molecular biology and crystallography to finding value in chemical structures and aiming for drug discovery.

“I’ve spent my career, at least in recent years, finding what appeared to be the forefront of this emerging junction of chemistry and biology, and I think for the first time in history that is occurring in this precise field,” says the man who’s worked for Upjohn, Burroughs Wellcome, LaJolla Pharmaceutical, Axys Pharmaceuticals, and Novartis. Livingston hopes to guide SGX to discovery partnerships with pharma and biotech, but says that doesn’t mean the company won’t at some point pursue its own drug discoveries.

— Meredith Salisbury

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