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October 2007 at an initial public offering price of $17 a share. The IPO opened at $25 a share, marking an immediate 47 percent gain, and now trades at about $36 a share—which yields a market cap of about $625 million.
Before joining Genoptix, Nova was a rising life sciences executive at San Diego-based Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Nanogen, and Hybritech, where she helped figure out how to obtain and stabilize the prostate-specific antigen the company was developing to help diagnose prostate cancer. In a 2005 profile of “Super” Nova, the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted Genoptix board chairman (and San Diego Xconomist) Drew Senyei, who praised Nova for “a combination of what I think is the key to being a success in the biotech space: a deep technical understanding, the leadership and management skills, and she knows how to motivate people and make things happen in a very complex environment.”
Nova says that Genoptix has a number of advantages over local pathology laboratories, but the key differences lie in its comprehensive and centralized approach to specialized diagnostic services. With 120 subtypes of blood cancers and related diseases, Nova says it’s easy to understand why a recent study of leukemia cases referred to Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that 27 percent were misdiagnosed. Confusion also can arise over the appropriate tests, which Nova says is why a staff blood pathologist assesses each case that comes in and determines which diagnostic tests should be used.
Genoptix, has placed increasing emphasis in recent years on expanding its online capabilities by also providing a comprehensive assessment that charts a patient’s progress over time, and by offering a similar comprehensive one-stop diagnosis shop for colo-rectal cancer patients. Nova says she views Genoptix as a “personalized-service diagnostics company,” but she can understand why some people might see it as healthcare IT. As she puts it, any company that places a premium on the quality of its comprehensive diagnostic services “also is an information technology company by default.”
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