The Genetics Institute Alumni: Where Are They Now?

3/22/10Follow @xconomy

[Updated: 11:50 am, 8/27/12] Genetics Institute stopped making biotech headlines a long time ago. But almost 15 years after it was acquired, this high-flier from the industry’s first big wave in the 1980s is still having a ripple effect on the Boston biotech scene. It was one of the key companies that recruited, inspired, and mentored a generation of young scientists and business people in Boston.

GI, as it is known, was founded in 1980 by a couple of scientists from Harvard University, Mark Ptashne and Tom Maniatis, and got going as a business the next year with the addition of Gabriel Schmergel, a former Baxter Healthcare executive, as CEO. The company developed a reputation for first-rate science along with Genentech, another industry pioneer. It grew to 600 employees and a $1 billion market valuation by 1991, before its devastating loss in a patent lawsuit with Amgen. Rather than resort to mass layoffs, GI sold a majority ownership stake to Wyeth in 1992, and was then taken over completely in December 1996. At the end of its independence, 1,200 people worked at Genetics Institute.

Many of the people who now lead emerging biotech companies in Boston—Tuan Ha-Ngoc of Aveo Pharmaceuticals, Adelene Perkins of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, and John Knopf of Acceleron Pharma, to name a few—got their start at Genetics Institute. They still rave about what an amazing experience it was, and how the things they learned there influence them today in how they run their companies.

“This is something I’m particularly proud of,” says Schmergel, reached at his home in Florida. “A whole bunch of people have spun out of there. Some have done incredibly well. And this is a tough business.”

Schmergel—an investor in Xconomy, it must be noted—says Ptashne and Maniatis deserve the credit for establishing a culture that valued top-notch science. But even though he sometimes struggled to understand all of the science himself, he made sure that everybody in the company, not just scientists, respected it. “I used to tell our business guys that you don’t have to be a scientist in biotech, but you better be science-friendly and learn as much as you can because it’s the basis of the company,” Schmergel says.

To get a sense of where the Genetics Institute family tree extends today, I’ve sought to put together a directory with links to help GI alumni connect and re-connect. I want this list to include not just mover-shaker types, but also the rank-and-file who have moved on to other places since the Wyeth takeover in December 1996. The list includes 270 names at last count, and I expect it to grow over time. I owe thanks for help with this project to Schmergel, Infinity’s Perkins, Gina Nugent of The Yates Network, and three guys from Acceleron Pharma—Bob Steininger, Matt Sherman, and Jack Morgan.

Now here’s the part where you can help. If you see any information below that’s out of date or incorrect, please let me know and I’ll fix it. If you have any questions, comments, or new information, please send me a note at ltimmerman@xconomy.com or editors@xconomy.com.

Over time, I hope this story can become a richer and more valuable resource for Genetics Institute alumni. Here’s the list I’ve put together in alphabetical order, with the most updated titles and affiliations I found online.

Joan Abrams, biotechnology teacher, Cambridge Public Schools

Kate Adams, vice president of diagnostics marketing, HistoRx

Robert Adamson, retired, former vice president, Pfizer

Tim Ahern, science and regulatory consultant, Acceleron Pharma

Leslie Alessandri, scientist, Abbott Bioresearch Center [Added: 10:40 am, 5/20/10]

Dean Alger, senior director, regulatory affairs, Genzyme. Retiring in May. [Added: 10:05 am, 3/23/10]

Jayne Allard, US Benefits & Retirement Specialist at Lonza [Added: 5:30 pm, 10/28/11]

Joel Alvarez, associate director, global regulatory operations, Shire Human Genetic Therapies

Juan Alvarez, senior director, discovery research and biologics, Alkermes [Added: 9:45 pm, 3/22/10]

John Amari, associate director, Syntonix Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Biogen Idec [Added: 12:05 am, 4/2/10]

Godfrey Amphlett, executive director, process and product development, ImmunoGen [Added: 12:05 am, 4/2/10]

Kim Archer, project manager, Novartis Institutes for Biological Research … Next Page »

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  • Mark Schiavone

    This is great! Luke you really should consider making this into a Facebook page. Compared to so many folks here I’m just a puppy. Joined GI in February 1996 and I’m still here.

    Mark Schiavone
    Tech Scientist IV
    Pfizer

  • Nancy Kaplan

    I was a systems analyst in the IT department form 1995 – 1997. Was just updating a very old resume and someone sent this along. Very cool.

    Nancy Kaplan
    City Councilor – Burlington VT

  • Christine Resmini

    Hi Luke,

    I was at GI from 1992 – 2010 (Pfizer merger). I’m now a Scientist at RXi Pharmaceuticals. Please add me to your list.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  • Rosemarie Currier

    This is wonderful! I’m so happy that we can all come together here and share the GI/Wyeth Experience. I started at GI in 1992 working for Bruce Eisen and Larry Stein and lived through the many changes until I was laid off in 2008. Now I’m happy to say that I’m back at a company, EnerNOC, Inc., that reminds me so much of GI, young, entrepreneurial, energetic. Please add me to the list:

    Rosemarie Currier, Contract Administrator
    EnerNOC, Inc.
    101 Federal Street, Suite 1100
    Boston, MA 02110

    And Dale, I look at your calendar everyday and enjoy your talent!

  • Pat Sacco

    Great article. I was at GI from 1987-1999 and enjoyed every minute.

    I am at Shire Human Genetic Therapies. I am the Vice President Facilities & Engineering Technical Services (presently acting/interim VP Manufacturing).

    Pat

  • Annamaria Paone

    This brings back great memories- I am proud to have been a part of such a dynamic company. I worked at GI from 1987 to 2008.

    I am currently a Drug Supply Manager at ArQule, a small biotech company which shares a lot of the GI culture and energy.

    Please add me to your list.
    Thanks!
    Annamaria

  • Christine Resmini

    Hi Luke,

    I was at GI from 1992 – 2010 (Pfizer merger). I’m now a Scientist at RXi Pharmaceuticals. Please add me to your list.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    The spirit of the GI alumni group really amazes me. I hope I’ve gotten everybody’s names updated in the story, but frankly, it’s hard to keep up with all the requests. If I’ve forgotten to add your name to the list, try me again at ltimmerman@xconomy.com.

  • Susan Severance, MPH

    Hello from the West Coast – Portland to be exact!

    It’s Susan Severance, Genetics Institute, Manager, Preclinical Scientific Writing (1997-2000+).

    You’ll have to excuse and indulge my need to connect with the amazing Preclinical team that we had when I was in Andover from 1997-2000+ (with the help of telecommunications magic and Glenn Larson’s approval of my consulting arrangement across the country).

    Glenn Larson: Just read over that performance appraisal from you from the past. Still can’t believe WAR took our tracking database and ran with it & zero issues on the GLP Archive audit – those were the days! I remember flying to upper state NY to present on the database and afterwards WAR called me a “champion” in the industry. I felt uncomfortable with that terminology. Now it’s a standard project management term everywhere.

    Bob Schaub: No, I still don’t want to visit Japan. Played any golf lately – I sold the trophy (1/2 horse) at a garage sale this Spring for $5. And yes – facial hair is big out West! Still using that cleaning solution on the white board – any complaints from the EPA?

    Page Bouchard: I’m living the dream in academia at Oregon Health & Science University. We have a tram that goes up the hill where we are located, and an amazing long suspension sky bridge that connects OHSU to the VA – it’s an engineering feat – something to behold. I’ve seen bald eagles fly level with me on that bridge – two at the same time!!

    Abbie Celniker: What can I say – you are still my mentor – an amazing role model for women in science. Love remembering all the deep, technical bioassay validation discussions we had – even those when you were home with the kids fed and put to bed, and I was calling you from work!

    Lori Crane: Hey girl – still cranking out the submissions? I remember your great loyalty and sense of humor that got us through each submission on time. Any naps lately in the GLP Archive cave?

    Cheryl Riel: Hey girl – I see that you are still preclinically minded – congrats – another member of our amazing team! Been to any race tracks lately? Have the dog(s) been behaving – not eating the furniture/ doors, etc?

    Steve Potter: I still have the amethyst rock crystal that you gave me. It’s on my desk now. I cherish all of our talks around the trout pond. You really gave me such confidence in my abilities when we were at Biogen together and then again at GI. Your appreciation of my aseptic/sterile techniques in my days in micro was such a boost to a young twenty something year old female in the industry. How’s the rescue league, and how many greyhounds do you have at home now?

    Others and All: There are many that touched my life in those amazing days; together we accomplished miracles in science. We moved so fast, but it was all calculated – innovation at its best. The energy I felt during that time period has never been surpassed. Thank you for one of the highlights of my life. It was truly great to have been a part of the biotech glory days with you ….

    Susan Severance, MPH
    Research Project Manager, Research Associate
    Oregon Health & Science University
    School of Medicine
    Department of Internal Medicine & Geriatrics
    503-220-8262, ext. 54108
    severanc@ohsu.edu

  • Mark Stahl

    Hi Luke,

    Thanks for writing this great article. I joined GI in January of 1984 and still have fond memories of those early days in the old “Lying-in” hospital on Longwood Ave. After 26 years and 2 changes in ownership, I am now Director of Protein Engineering, Global Biotherapeutics Technologies, Pfizer.

    cheers,

    Mark

  • Charlene (Quinto) DeClercq

    Hi Luke,

    I joined GI preclinical in 1992 and have been through the Wyeth then Pfizer mergers.

    I am currently a Senior Research Scientist in the Inflammation & Immunology department at Pfizer.

    Please add me to the list!!
    Thanks,
    Charlene

  • Lynette Fouser

    Hi Luke -

    Thanks for your article about GI. I joined GI in June 1987. Twenty three years later, I’m still working on CPD as a Principal Research Scientist II in the Inflammation and Immunology RU within Pfizer’s Biotherapeutics Research and Development.

    Please add me to the list.

    Thanks much
    Lynette

  • Chris Riel

    Luke,

    I’ve been following this article for a while now and do have some updates for you.

    I was at GI (Wyeth/Pfizer) from 1988 until the spring of 2010. I recently started at Shire HGT as Director, QA Global Compliance Operations.

    I was married to Patricia Murtha-Riel (Murtha) who was also an employee of GI(Wyeth) from 1982 until her un-timely death in 2003. This information should be made available for anyone looking for Patty.

    Thanks for keeping this updated.

    Chris

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/vincentling Vincent Ling

    Hi Luke,

    I was at Genetics Institute from 1993 to 2003, and know many many people on the list.

    I am now Head of Biological Sciences at Neurotech

    Please add me if you have the chance!
    Vincent Ling

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    Vincent, thanks for writing, you’ve been added to the list. I caught up and added a few others this morning while I was at it. –Luke

  • Toni LaPorte

    Hi Luke,

    I was at GI from 1992 to 1996 in Clinical Data Management – GI was a special place to work. I am now a Vendor Manager at Biogen Idec. Love it if you would add me to the list.

    Cheers!
    Toni LaPorte

  • April Case

    I worked in SMDD from 1993-1997 in Jim Clark’s lab. I have many fond memories of Bolton St even those darn unisex bathrooms whose locks always got stuck. I’m at Sirtris Pharma now.

  • http://Linkedin Monique

    Nice to hear about a lot of people with whom I worked from 1984 to 2002.
    I retired then for two years, then went back to work as a contractor at Acceleron Pharma where a lot of former GI people are working, to name a few, John Knopf, Ravi Kumar, Dianne Sako, Kathy Tomkinson,
    Bob Steininger, Tod Marvell and more!
    I too loved my time at GI, where basic research mattered and was supported by Gabe, our CEO

  • http://www.lciplaw.com Luann Cserr

    Kudos for putting this together. My years with GI rank at the top of my best work experience list. The positive support Gabe provided was amazing. I never minded that the legal department offices were next to the boiler room. Cheers, Luann

  • Adel Bakhtyari

    Hi luke
    I was at GI from 1987 to 1993. This was my first real job and had Great experince working with great bunch of people. We ( Mike Recny, Yangkil Kim, and Michael Brenner ) were among the first scientists transitioning from Cambridge into Andover. I am Ver proud to be a part of GI history. I am currently a senior analytical Scientist at Paratek Pharmaceuticals.
    Best Wishes.
    Adel

  • Bruce Eisen

    Luke–Wonderful job in creating and maintaining this list. Please add my name.
    I was GI’s Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel and later consulted for GI, Wyeth, Pfizer and others concerning IP.
    Am now retired.
    Keep up the good work!

    Bruce

  • http://None Eleanor Oberbeck

    Thank you for creating and maintaing this list. Please add my name.

    Ellie Oberbeck

  • Eleanor Oberbeck

    Luke,

    Plese do not add my email address to the message I just sent to you. thank you,

    Ellie Oberbeck

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    Ellie—no worries, you’ve been added to the list. Luke

  • Ellie Oberbeck

    Luke,
    Are you going to add my description of working at GI?
    Ellie

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    Hi GI’ers—-many of you have surely noticed since I announced it earlier this week, but I’ve decided to go a step beyond this article by organizing a reunion event for GI alumni. We’re bringing together the two scientific founders—Maniatis and Ptashne–along with Gabe Schmergel for a great event that will both look back at what was special about GI and shine a light on what the alumni are doing today. All the details, including how to register for this event on Dec. 14, are at the link below. I hope to see quite a few of you there.

    http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2011/10/11/the-genetics-institute-impact-join-mark-ptashne-tom-maniatis-gabe-schmergel-others-dec-14/

  • Steve Wolpe

    Hi Luke – I’m on the list but have a new position as Sr. VP Research, Noble Life Sciences in Maryland. I’d love to make it in Dec, depending on my schedule. Thanks! – Steve

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    Steve—I updated your title above. Hope you can make it. —Luke

  • Mary Antoinette Jackson

    I worked at Genetics Institute from 1995 onward, through both the Wyeth and Pfizer buy-outs until late 2010. I am currently in Global Information Services at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Please add me when you have a chance. Thank you. ~Mary

  • Divya Chaudhary

    Hi Luke-
    I am GI alum as well and plan to be at the Dec event this year.
    I worked with Clive Wood, Andy Long, Lori Fitz, Paul Burgess in the early years, started in Katherine Turner’s group, that evolved to be Mary Collins’ Inflammation and Immunology group. Left Pfizer earlier this year and since then am a Consultant and Biopharmaceutical Writer. Currently at Nimbus Discovery, an Atlas Venture funded start up (reminds me of the GI time – the energy and momentum).
    Hope to see you and everyone soon. Please add me to the group.
    Divya.

  • Bernadine Blacknall Kirkland

    Hi Luke,
    I E-mailed you back in 2010 to be added to the list. I worked as L. Patrick Gage’s Executive Assistant for 7 years! Pat and I have kept in touch and I’m delighted to see so many GI folks. I’ve been here at Millennium for the past 3 years. Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.
    Bernadine

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    Bernadine—thanks for the update, I’ve updated your entry on the list. See you there Dec. 14—Luke

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    Mary Antointte—thanks for the note, you’ve been added to the list above—Luke

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    Divya—thanks very much for the comment. You’ve been added to the list. I’ll keep an eye on Nimbus Discovery.

    Can you encourage some of your former colleagues, if they aren’t listed, to leave a comment on this post or send me an e-mail at ltimmerman@xconomy.com so I can let the GI alumni know where they are?

    Thanks–Luke

  • Tom Salati

    Hi Luke,

    Wow – you did a great job with this! I started with GI in 1987 in Cambridge, working with Dale Cumming in Carbohydrate Chemistry. I am now with Pfizer (former GI/Wyeth) in Andover, working as a Sr. QA Compliance Manager. Looking forward to the upcoming reunion in Malden on Nov 18. Please add me to the list.

    Thanks
    Tom

  • http://www.anaptysbio.com Steve Neben

    Luke, sorry we missed the big GI Alumni event but the rave reviews have been coming in. If you are still updating the alumni list please add Tammy and I to it:
    Steve Neben, Genetics Institute Staff Scientist, Hematopoiesis, 1991-1998, currently Senior Director, Project and Alliance Management, AnaptysBio, San Diego
    Tammy Neben, Genetics Institute Research Associate, Hematopoiesis, 1991-1998, currently Research Scientist, Cell Biology, AnaptysBio, San Diego

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/ltimmerman/ Luke Timmerman

    Steve—absolutely, just added you and Tammy to the list. –Luke

  • Sharleen Miele

    Hi Luke,
    Please add my name to your GI alumni list. I started with GI in 1989 as a Quality Control analyst. I am current working for Pfizer as a Quality Project Lead.

    Thanks,
    Sharleen

  • http://bjvozella@comcast.net Jessica Vozella

    Hi Luke.
    This was a great article. I worked at GI from 1996-2002 as a contracts attorney. The culture was dynamic and the people were bright, energetic and cooperative. I am proud to say that I am still in touch with many of the people I worked with while at GI. Please add me to your listof GI alumni:
    Jessica Vozella, Esq.
    LCLS
    bjvozella@comcast.net

    Thanks so much, Luke for keeping us all in touch!

  • Michelle Oxner

    Hi Luke,

    Thank you for the article! It was so nice to see all the names I recognize from so long ago.. I started at G.I. in 1989 working as a temp in the mailroom and soon worked my way up to the clinical supply chain organizatio at Pfizer. I would love to be added to the list as many of the folks at G.I. are what made me who I am today and I am so thankful for such an incredible experiance.

    Thanks.

    Michelle

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