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Pharmacopeia Takes Steps to Integrate Its Four Life Science Software Units into Single Company

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Pharmacopeia of Princeton, NJ, is combining its four life science software units into a single entity, effective June 1.

The new software business is the end result of Pharmacopeia’s recent wave of software company acquisitions. It will incorporate Molecular Simulations, Genetics Computer Group, Oxford Molecular Group, and Synopsys Scientific Systems.

“What we at Pharmacopeia are trying to do is build a software business that would take a user from DNA through sequence analysis through modeling and simulation and structure prediction through to chemistry and cheminformatics,” said Steven Sharp, who now serves as product manager for the GCG Wisconsin Package. “We have the components and we’re now building that business.”

“We’re going to continue doing what we do, which is design and sell software to help our customers discover drugs and develop chemicals,” said Sue Rodney, manager of investor relations at Pharmacopeia. “But now we’ll just do it under one name since all the products are basically related.”

The software unit, for which a name has been chosen but not disclosed, will be based in San Diego and Cambridge, UK. An official announcement of the new unit will take place at the American Chemical Society Meeting in San Diego April 1-5.

Michael Stapleton, who was recently promoted to chief operating officer of Pharmacopeia’s software business, will head the new organization. The company is currently trying to fill the position of senior vice president of the bioinformatics business unit.

Sharp said that no layoffs are planned as a result of the consolidation, though he said “about four or five” GCG employees have chosen to leave.

There is “very little overlap” between the products currently offered through MSI and GCG, Sharp said, although there is some similarity in the cheminformatics offerings of MSI, Synopsis, and Oxford Molecular. Pharmacopeia will carry forward “the strongest features” of these products, Sharp said. He noted that no products would be dropped as a result of the transition.

The first product to merge MSI and GCG technology, AtlasStore, will be available to members of MSI’s Functional Genomics Consortium in the second quarter of this year. Sharp said that GCG’s SeqStore bioinformatics package now gives users of MSI’s GeneAtlas access to protein sequence data, a capability formerly unavailable to MSI clients.

Sharp is currently working on the 11.0 release of the Wisconsin Package. He noted that as a unit of Oxford Molecular, GCG added a number of new features to the product but never pursued an aggressive product marketing strategy.

“People say, “Oh the Wisconsin Package — that’s been around forever’,” Sharp remarked. “It is a very mature product, but very interesting things have happened in it and the next release should be very exciting.”

“This is not your father’s Wisconsin Package,” he quipped. He estimated that the new release would be available in the first quarter of 2002.

— BT

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