Tom Maniatis, Molecular Biology Pioneer, Seeks to Help Build a Kendall Square in NYC

4/5/11Follow @xconomy

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what’s being called the New York Genome Center. Not much is being said about this project publicly yet, but Maniatis says he believes New York needs a major center equipped with super-fast, super-cheap gene sequencing machines. Shortly after arriving in New York, he realized that if he wanted to do some seriously ambitious gene sequencing experiments, there wasn’t anything around quite like Boston’s flagship institution for this kind of work—The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

The New York Genome Center project is still very much a work in progress, Maniatis says. But so far, a coalition of seven New York institutions have put together a proposal to the City of New York, which is seeking to support an applied science and engineering research campus. It’s one of 18 proposals from academic institutions around the world, so the competition is certainly going to be tough.

But Maniatis is clearly passionate about this effort to do something big in New York, and brings a great scientific pedigree and Rolodex to the effort.

Before ending our conversation about New York biotech, I had to ask, why does he care so much about New York anyway? After all, he’s from Denver, CO, and made his career at Harvard University, Caltech, and through a brief stint on Long Island at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Maniatis didn’t have a clever, ready-made answer for that one. As someone who was there from the beginning, and helped build Kendall Square into the biotech hub it is today, he simply said he’d like to do that one more time.

“It’s funny, I’ve been asked that a million times. I’m interested and excited to see something like this happen. I’d like to see something like Kendall Square,” Maniatis says. “It’s enriched the academic and business life in Boston in an amazing way, and it would be great to see that happen here.”

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