AT A GLANCE: BA in molecular and cell biology from University of California, Berkeley.
Responsible for Lion’s product strategy. Played a key role in the commercial launch of Lion’s SRS platform and negotiated the company’s recent deal with Celera.
Enjoys skiing, mountain biking, and listening to hip hop and jazz.
QWhere will bioinformatics be in two years? Five years?
AIn two years, bioinformatics will be about individual variation and the role that variation plays in disease, and it will be beyond gene and gene function and focused on biochemistry, metabolism, and signal transduction. In five years, bioinformatics will be about bringing biological information and knowledge beyond the research environment and making it useful to physicians and patients for use in the treatment of disease and the management of risk.
QWhat are the biggest challenges the bioinformatics sector faces?
AIntegration. We have begun to solve the fundamental problem of bringing together lots of different data together from different sources. The next step is to integrate the applications that people use to analyze and share that information within their organization. As the science of biology evolves, the data and cross-references will get more complex, and the challenges of integration will evolve with them.
QWho are your current customers?
AWe currently have 40 commercial customers spanning a number of market segments--small and large pharmaceutical companies, agbio and food companies, biotech companies and bio-portal companies.
QWith which companies do you have partnerships?
ALion has an i-Biology partnership with Bayer where we are using bioinformatics tools and expertise to find new drug targets in the public domain and where we have built a corporate-wide bioinformatics infrastructure for Bayer. We have a partnership with Tripos to integrate biological and chemical data, and we are working with Tripos to deliver this to Bayer as an extension to the original partnership. We have a partnership with Paradigm to jointly develop new software around Paradigm’s unique data. We have a partnership with Celera to further develop the SRS technology as the foundation for their Celera Discover System, which integrates Celera’s proprietary genomic information with public and third-party information sources.
QWhat non-existing technology is number one on your customers’ wish list?
AIt varies quite a bit based on the market segment the customer is in. In general, they seem to want a tighter coupling between in-silico hypotheses and wet-lab results.
QHow large is your bioinformatics staff?
AOver 150 and growing rapidly.
QWhat is the company’s annual revenue? Are you profitable?
AOur fiscal year ends at the end of March. For the year ended March 31, 2000, our revenue was $9.75 million. Break-even is planned for fiscal year 2003.
QDo you see yourself more as a software provider or as a consultant?
AYou can’t be one without the other. Our customers require software that is customized to suit the way the do their research. Many of our customers carry out the customization for themselves, but many of them want to call on our expertise to accelerate their integration.
QWhere does the company’s financing come from?
ALion is unique in that we did not go to venture capitalists for financing. The initial financing came directly from the founders, and we got some support from the German government. Most recently, we raised nearly more $200 million in an IPO in August.
QDo you expect to see more M&A activity in the sector?
AYes. The problems of integrating information for pharma R&D are enormous. Lots of companies are filling interesting niches within that space, but the big problems are around getting biologists, chemists, and clinicians onto the same page. The recent announcement of our intention to acquire Trega is one way that we are looking to get biologists and chemists to start directly benefiting from integrating and sharing information.