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Genomic Solutions Tells Contract Research Business To Go It Alone

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Having outgrown the need for an in-house demonstration lab, Genomic Solutions announced earlier this month that it would spin off its costly proteomics research services business and form a new company, aptly named Proteomic Research Services (PRS).

The new company, located next door to Genomic Solutions in Ann Arbor, Mich., will perform much of the same services as it has since 1998— including contract comparative and functional proteomics studies — and with many of the same employees. The only difference, it seems, is in how the new and former owners of the business value its profitability.

“This is a business that takes an extraordinarily large amount of dedicated resources,” said Kathleen Murphy, a spokeswoman for Genomic Solutions, although she declined to discuss specific figures. The company divested itself of the business, she said, to focus on developing next generation proteomics products rather than pursue contract research projects for other customers.

The three new majority shareholders, former Genomic Solutions employees Mike Pisano, Rick Edmondson, and Beth Allen, quite logically see things another way. “From our perspective, we invited [Genomic Solutions to spin off the business],” said Pisano. “We thought it would be a good idea because we knew it could be a profitable entity.”

Specifically, PRS plans to provide classical proteomics research services, such as differential protein expression analysis and protein post-translational modification identification, as well as more in-depth functional analysis of proteins in specific samples, Pisano said. The laboratory has equipment for performing gel-based and non-gel-based protein separation, as well as MALDI/MS and LC/MS/MS capabilities. The company currently has six employees.

Genomic Solutions has provided PRS with an undisclosed amount of seed money and remains a minority shareholder, but the company’s success will depend on its ability to acquire new customers. So far, PRS has seven new contracts with undisclosed pharma and biotech customers who transferred their contracts over from Genomic Solutions, Pisano said.

“Everybody is a little bit leery of a company that’s just a couple weeks old, but we’ve built up a reputation amongst our colleagues in the industry,” Pisano said. Nevertheless, “finding a new set of customers is still going to be a challenge.” —JSM

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