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UPDATE: Paradigm Genetics Sacks CEO, President Ryals

NEW YORK, Feb. 27 - Paradigm Genetics has fired its CEO and President John A. Ryals and has appointed Chief Scientific Officer John E. Hamer to take the helm while a "global search is conducted.

Ryals founded the company in 1997 and has since served as CEO and president.

Hamer, who received his PhD in microbiology from the University of California, Davis, came to Paradigm from Purdue University where he was an adjunct professor of microbiology and immunology.

Paradigm did not offer a reason for Ryals' sudden dismissal. But in an interview, Melissa Matson, a company spokeswoman, said that the dismissal capped "a period over a course of time of some dysfunction in the relationship between him and the board and him and the management team."

"It really was not one single event" that led to his dismissal, she added.

The decision was made by the board of directors, which met on Monday and Tuesday, according to sources in the company. Matson confirmed that the board made its decision in a meeting on Tuesday but stressed that the meeting was planned ahead of time to talk about "strategy and our new budget for the year."

 

"Evidently on Monday night [the board] came to the conclusion that it [would be] probably better for the company and for the shareholders to part ways with John," Matson told GenomeWeb on Wednesday. "It was shocking."

 

Shares of the Research Triangle Park, NC-based company were down $.20, or more than 11 percent, at $1.50 in late-morning Nasdaq trading. The stock has falling regularly from a 52-week high of $9.10, reached in late December.

 

"It was a surprise to us in the sense of the timing," said Christopher Meldrum, director of corporate alliances at Paradigm.

 

Ian Mehr, director of business development, at Paradigm, agreed with his colleague but added that the change "signals a good move for the company. John Ryals thought of innovative ways to conduct functional genomics. But like [most] entrepreneurial companies, management changes are necessary."

 

Mehr said Ryals was one of four company founders, and the last to have been with the company.

 

The company employs roughly 250 employees, according to Mehr. Paradigm plans to hold a company-wide meeting to discuss the changes, he added.

 

Ken Howard, in Santa Clara, Calif., contributed to this report.

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