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UPDATE: Informax, Whitehead Deal Designed to Improve Genomax

NEW YORK, Nov 17 – Informax has licensed Genomax to the Whitehead Institute under an agreement wherein Whitehead scientists will join Informax’s scientific advisory board and provide input on further developments to the system, the company announced Friday.

“This deal gives us access to some of the best and brightest bioinformatics and genomics people around,” said Richard Melzer, Informax’s vice president of global sales.   “The other thing is, it provides us with tremendous scientific validation of our strategy for developing the product and architecture we have created.”

The Whitehead Institute will use Genomax for analysis and annotation in computational genomics and sequencing programming and will give Informax advice on future enhancements that can help it improve the program’s efficacy.

“The idea would be to have all the high throughput data we are generating, not just sequences, but variation data, SNP data, and expression data, and therefore give researchers access to all different kinds of data through one integrated interface,” said Jill Mesirov, the associate director for Informatics and Research Computing at the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome research.   

Mesirov, who has been working with center director Eric Lander on selecting a bioinformatics software system, said she chose Informax because it will allow the lab to integrate information from a number of different legacy databases into one system.

“One advantage of the system is its flexibility and good API,” she said.

Genomax integrates UNIX, Oracle, and Java technologies for analysis of mass quantities of genomic data and target selection. Genomax works in tandem with Vector NTI Suite, Informax's desktop product for wet lab work.

Mesirov said Whitehead Institute bioinformaticists would develop an enterprise database, but also keep some of the data housed in distributed databases.

The Whitehead researchers will work with Informax to develop customized applications for its needs, and inform the company which features it could do without.   Informax will consider whether these customized applications would be useful to include in future versions of Genomax, said Melzer.

The Whitehead Institute did have to pay a licensing fee for Genomax and will have to pay for support and customization services. In return for Whitehead’s expert input, “we did make concessions off of list price,” Melzer said, refusing to elaborate further.

Informax has sold Genomax to 20 pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and academic customers, including DuPont, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Genzyme, and the University of Tokyo.

Buoyed by this successful collaboration, the company is currently in similar collaboration discussions with other prestigious institutions, Melzer said.

The Whitehead Institute recently announced another public-private collaboration to jointly develop microarray technology with Corning.

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