Ion Torrent, Stealthy Company Tied to Harvard’s George Church, Nabs $23M Venture Deal

11/6/09Follow @xconomy

Ion Torrent Systems, a company advised by Harvard University genomics pioneer George Church, has raised $23 million in new capital to develop what it calls on its website “groundbreaking and highly disruptive technology” and to hire people who “want to do what it takes to put a dent in the universe.”

The company, which has a location near Yale University in Guilford, CT, and one in San Francisco, has raised $23 million in equity out of a financing round that could be worth as much as $26 million, according to a regulatory filing released today.

The document doesn’t say who invested, and Ion Torrent didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But the new company is associated with some big names, including Church and Stanford University’s Ron Davis, who serve on the company’s scientific advisory board, and CEO Jonathan Rothberg, who was the founding CEO of 454 Life Sciences before that company was sold to Roche two years ago for $140 million in cash.

Ion Torrent Systems website is pretty vague about what it is really up to, although its job postings offer some clues. It says it is looking to hire molecular biologists and biochemists to do the aforementioned universe denting, and that it offers that it offers the opportunity to work with top scientists “and have a profound impact.” It is also looking to hire software developers and “evangelists” who want to “create the biotech software platform of the future and share it with the world. Build powerful tools and create a tight-knit community that will use and develop them for years to come.”

GenomeWeb speculated back in March, based on a patent application filed by Ion Torrent Systems, that it is working on new DNA sequencing technologies, although the company wouldn’t confirm that. Major players in the field—such as Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies, San Diego-based Illumina, and Roche—have been in a competitive frenzy to lower the cost of sequencing full human genomes. One Mountain View, CA-based startup, Complete Genomics, raised $45 million in venture capital earlier this year to support its new model for sequencing entire genomes for as little as $5,000 apiece or less.

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