Genologics Aims to Turn Patient Records, Genome Data into Something Biologists Can Use
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technology developed by James DeGreef at the University of Victoria. It brought its first product to the market in 2004, and has raised $17.5 million in venture financing since 2005, Ball says. GenoLogics now has about 60 customers using its technology, including Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. It also has a group of top partners in the genome sequencing business—Illumina, Roche, and Life Technologies. The company has 75 employees, with about 55 at its Victoria headquarters, and the rest at field sales offices in the U.S. and Europe, Ball says. He wouldn’t disclose the company’s annual revenues or whether it is profitable.
The company got its start with software to help researchers better analyze all the data coming from the genomics revolution. GenoLogics has widened its scope since then to make software that captures all kinds of other data—from blood samples in labs, electronic medical histories, and questionnaires on diet and lifestyle, to help paint a more holistic picture for biologists really trying to understand the complex interplay of genetics and environmental factors that add up to disease. “The problem with the data is it’s all scattered,” Ball says.
The main barrier to adoption for this technology isn’t really about beating competitors, and more about persuading researchers they can’t solve this problem on their own. “People tend to think they need to build something themselves because their problem is unique,” Ball says. Still, GenoLogics does run into competitors that it says offer products with more narrow focus, like Seattle-based Geospiza, which makes software for genomic analysis.
I wondered if it might seem difficult for this company to carry on this kind of complex bio-IT work in a city like Victoria, BC. It’s not much of an issue as the company has grown to build sales offices in major cities around the world, where it can be close to customers, Ball says. He didn’t make it sound like the company is considering a move—Victoria is where the technology comes from, and the people who got it started like living there. “It’s not exactly a mecca for biotech,” Ball admits. “It’s not the most convenient from a travel standpoint, but it has a great lifestyle.”