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ARIAD Pharmaceuticals Recruits Former Glaxo Wellcome Bioinformatics Chief

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--ARIAD Pharmaceuticals announced last week the appointment of Rainer Fuchs to the position of vice-president, chief information officer, and director of bioinformatics for the Hoechst-ARIAD Genomics Center here.

Fuchs, former bioinformatics director for Glaxo Wellcome, said that company's announcement last week of merger discussions with SmithKline Beecham was not a factor in his decision to leave.

In a telephone interview February 10 from his new office at ARIAD's headquarters here, Fuchs said the move was a "career opportunity" and a "chance to work for a smaller company" where he can "get things done more easily."

Glaxo recruited Fuchs in 1994 from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, where he was a staff scientist. At Glaxo he established and ran the bioinformatics department in Research Triangle Park, NC.

At ARIAD, Fuchs will direct information technology for the pharmaceutical company and design and lead bioinformatics efforts of the Genomics Center, including computational, informatics, and computing components.

Fuchs told BioInform he plans to build up the Genomics Center's bioinformatics staff--currently "a handful of people"--to about 30 by year's end. He said he is reviewing job applicants with an eye toward computer scientists. "The criterion is a demonstrated ability to identify a biological problem, then identify and apply a computational solution.," he said.

Fuchs, who holds a PhD in biochemistry but said he spent the last 10 years working exclusively on computational biology, said the ARIAD position appealed to his interest in bridging chemistry and biology. "There's still a huge gap in most pharmaceuticals between the two," he said.

Also, he expected working for a smaller organization to be more personally rewarding. "At a smaller company you don't have to constantly justify your existence. At a large pharmaceutical you're at a very early stage of drug discovery. You don't see where all your sweat goes," he explained.

The Hoechst-ARIAD Genomics Center is a joint venture founded last March between the Frankfurt, Germany-based pharmaceutical Hoechst Marion Roussel and ARIAD. The center identifies novel drug targets for small-molecule drug discovery and therapeutic proteins, and is currently using functional genomics to identify genes that play a critical role in osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, and osteoarthritis.

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