SEATTLE--In one of the first instances of fallout from the US Department of Energy's decision to end funding for the Human Genome Database, reported in the last issue of BioInform, Robert Cottingham, the project's operations director, has joined Darwin Discovery here as director of scientific computing. Darwin is the pharmaceutical discovery business of Chiroscience Group.
According to the announcement, made earlier this month, Cotting ham will relocate to Darwin from the database's home at Johns Hopkins University, and will coordinate scientific computing activities between the company's research operations here and in Cambridge, UK. Darwin's bioinformatics efforts here are mainly focused on gene discovery, while computing efforts in Cambridge are aimed at small-molecule drug design. With Cottingham's appointment, the company said it intends to expand and integrate its informatics capabilities to "encompass all aspects of the gene-to-drug-discovery program, including new efforts to integrate human genetics and patient studies."
At the time the decision to discontinue funding for the database was announced, observers predicted one consequence would be a bonanza for recruiters.
"We are delighted that someone with Bob's outstanding and wide breadth of experience and expertise will be joining our team," commented David Galas, Darwin's executive director for discovery research. "Informatics, which extends from new technologies for genotyping and expression profiling, to computer aided drug design, to clinical trials, is an essential part of our research plan. Bob's presence will help build the unique paradigm we've put in place at Darwin Discovery."
Cottingham's career began in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Washington. Prior to joining the database project he also served as director of informatics at the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain in Paris and directed the development of the computing facilities and YAC mapping database at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Center in Houston. While there, he also developed the FASTLINK genetic linkage analysis program.
Darwin is engaged in discovering and developing small-molecule drugs and related diagnostics in the areas of autoimmune disease, cancer, inflammation, pain, and osteoporosis. Its parent company, Chiroscience, is a pharmaceutical firm that uses advanced technology platforms to discover and develop new drugs.