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People In The News: Mar 7, 2014

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The biotechnology entrepreneur Alejandro Zaffaroni, who co-founded Affymetrix, has died at the age of 91, The New York Times has reported.

Originally from Uruguay, Zaffaroni helped to launch biotechnology and Silicon Valley companies beyond Affymetrix, including Alza, Syntex, Perlegen Sciences, Symyx Technologies, DNAX, and Maxygen. He also had a hand in bringing new technologies to market, including Affymetrix's biochips, as well as the birth control pill and the nicotine patch.

He was awarded the National Medal of Technology from US President Bill Clinton in 1995. According to the Times, Zaffaroni died of complications of dementia.

Sequenom announced this week that CEO Harry Hixson plans to retire from that position in June, at the time of the company's stockholder meeting. Current President and Chief Operating Officer William Welch will assume Hixson's position upon his retirement.

Hixson will continue to serve as chairman of the firm's board of directors, a title he has held since 2003. Welch also will be nominated to serve on the board at the annual meeting, Sequenom said.

Company CFO Paul Maier also will retire from his job in June, but will continue to work with the company as a consultant. Current VP and Chief Accounting Officer Carolyn Beaver will replace Maier as CFO upon his retirement. She previously was corporate VP and controller of Beckman Coulter.

Also in June, Dirk van den Boom will be promoted to be chief scientific and strategy officer. He has been with Sequenom since 1998, and he recently was the company's executive VP of R&D and chief technology officer.

Contextual Genomics has named Chris Wagner its president and CEO. Wagner recently was president and CEO of Sirius Genomics, and he has 20 years of experience in life sciences.

Before joining Sirius he was a founding member of Aspreva Pharmaceuticals' executive committee and VP of business development, where he worked with a team to secure $76 million in private and $113 million in public financing. He also formerly worked with Eli Lilly in Europe, North America, and Asia to commercialize biologics, small molecules, and molecular diagnostics.

Guardant Health, which is developing a targeted NGS-based test that assesses circulating tumor DNA, has announced the members of its management team.

Helmy Eltoukhy is cofounder and CEO. Eltoukhy joined Guardant Health from Illumina, where he served in a number of positions, including most recently as senior director of Illumina's advanced technology group. Previously, he was founder and CEO of Avantome and a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Genome Technology Center.

AmirAli Talasaz is cofounder and CTO of Guardant Health. He also joins the company from Illumina, where he was most recently senior director of scientific research. Previously, he was cofounder of Auriphex Biosciences and was also a research associate at Stanford University's Genome Technology Center.

Michael Wiley is Guardant Health's CFO. Previously, he was CFO at Voyage Medical and also served as VP of finance at Microchip Biotechnologies.

The New York Genome Center has appointed Jennifer Baldwin as its new COO. She joins NYGC from Genometry, where she was also COO. Previously, she held a variety of positions at the Broad Institute, including most recently as director of genomic technologies platforms. She was also assistant director of the sequencing program at the Whitehead Institute. She holds an MBA from Yale School of Management and a BS from James Madison University.

CollabRx has appointed Clifford Baron as its VP and chief operating officer. Previously Baron was at Accelrys, directing various functions, including biology product marketing, business development, and professional services. He also founded Lexigraphic, a firm consulting biotechnology startups, and was senior director of global solutions at Applied Biosystems.

Annai Systems has appointed Francisco De La Vega to be chief scientific officer, a new position at the company.

De La Vega formerly was VP of Genome Science at Real Time Genomics, and he spent 13 years at Applied Biosystems, where he was the distinguished scientific fellow and VP of next-generation sequencing applications. He also has worked in sequencing community projects such as the 1000 Genomes Project and the Genome-in-a-Bottle Consortium.

Personalized Cancer Therapy (Perthera), a company that develops precision cancer drugs, has hired Subha Madhavan, as its chief data officer. Madhavan will head up the planning and organization of Perthera's data analytic framework, standards, and quality control.

Madhavan is director of the Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Georgetown University Medical Center and leads the biomedical informatics program at the Georgetown-Howard CTSA. She was also principal investigator of the Breast and Colon Cancer Family Registries data center, which collects public health and epidemiology data from 12 sites in the US, Australia, and Canada. She recently partnered with the US Food and Drug Administration on its Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science program, which aims to advance evidence criteria in the areas of pharmacogenomics and vaccine safety.

Pittsburgh-based molecular diagnostics lab RedPath Integrated Pathology has tapped Alan Fishman to be CFO. Fishman formerly held leadership roles at 11 venture and private equity funded firms, and was a partner at Tatum.

Proteome Sciences said this week that Anthony Walker has resigned from the firm's board of directors and that it will seek a replacement to fill the open seat. The company said Walker left the board because of his commitments to his Alacrita consulting business.

Richard Steinhart has joined Atossa Genetics' board of directors and has been appointed to the audit and compensation committee. Steinhart formerly was CFO and VP of MELA Sciences, a managing director at Forest St. Capital/SAE Ventures, VP and CFO at Emisphere Technologies, and a general partner and CFO of CW Group.

Hologic's stockholders have re-elected all of the members of the firm's board of directors, including President and CEO Stephen MacMillan; Jonathan Christodoro; Sally Crawford; Scott Garrett; David LaVance; Nancy Leaming; Lawrence Levy; Samuel Merksamer; Christiana Stamoulis; Elaine Ullian, and Wayne Wilson.

NextGxDx, a Nashville, Tenn.-based firm offering an online marketplace for genetic testing, named several new members to its board of directors. The new directors include Patrick Balthrop, president and CEO of Luminex; Phil Hertik, former founder, chairman, and CEO of Windsor Health Group; Jim Kever, principal at Voyent Partners; George Lazenby, former CEO of Emdeon; and G. Walter Loewenbaum II, chairman of Luminex. and 3D Systems Corp.

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