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Informatics ‘Dashboard’ Startup Torrey Path Moves West, Plans Three Products for 2008

Bioinformatics software startup Torrey Path isn’t even a year old yet, but the company has already changed its name and opened a second office as it prepares to launch its first products in 2008.
Opened in March as Metamatics, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company this week said that it has changed its name to Torrey Path in order to reflect its “renewed focus on developing products which create new pathways to discovery.
The name change comes as the company opened a new office in La Jolla, Calif., in order to be near “a major center of biotechnology activity.” The word “Torrey” relates to a nearby public park.
Torrey Path is developing an informatics framework that it describes as a “research decision support” platform for the life science market.
“In talking to customers and people in pharma and biotech, [it became clear] there was a need to aggregate data from several different disciplines and put it together in a more dashboard sort of environment,” Peter Dresslar, Torrey Path’s founder, president, and CEO, told BioInform this week.
The company is basing this so-called dashboard on its Core Informatics Platform, a multi-tiered architecture that includes a web application-reporting framework, a business and analysis layer, a data-management layer, and a reporting package.
Torrey Path is developing two versions of the Core Informatics Platform: the Team Edition, which is designed for individual research departments or project teams and small research institutions; and the Enterprise Edition, which is designed to support clustering, load balancing, and other applications used by larger organizations.
The company plans to launch the Team Edition in the third quarter of 2008 and the Enterprise Edition in early 2009.
Torrey Path is also developing a microarray analysis package called the Gene Expression Analysis and Reports Pack, or GEAR, which comprises analysis and reporting tools designed to help researchers visualize and interpret microarray data. The company plans to release the GEAR pack in the third quarter of 2008.

“In talking to customers and people in pharma and biotech, [it became clear] there was a need to aggregate data from several different disciplines and put it together in a more dashboard sort of environment.”

The firm also plans to offer content. The first such offering in development is called the Eye Content Pack, a collection of annotated information from microarray experiments performed on the mammalian eye. The company believes the database will be useful to scientists studying the genetic basis of eye diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Dresslar told BioInform this week that Torrey Path’s primary competitors are “the people putting together the dashboards and research decision support at big pharma companies,” though he also cited as potential competitors software firms with broad informatics portfolios such as Accelrys and Symyx.
Torrey Path is currently working on a pilot project with an undisclosed top-three big pharma company.
Laura Trout, business development manager at Torrey Path, added that Torrey Path is “in discussion with four of the top 10 pharmas and one of the top three biotechs.”
Dresslar said that the company has also performed usability testing at the University of Michigan’s School of Information.
“We’ve walked through with … customers, colleagues at our customer sites and others in the industry such as academics,” Dresslar said. “Even the grad students [add value] because when you talk with the grad students, you talk with who is really using this product.”
Torrey Path currently employs seven people and is now hiring software developers for both its Michigan and California locations.
In addition, last week Torrey Path announced that Philip Bourne, co-director of the Protein Data Bank and a professor of pharmacology at the University of California San Diego, joined its company’s scientific advisory board.

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