March 7, 2002
Biology Is Data-Driven Science
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Mintz: In 1992 my wife, Dr. Liat Mintz, and I were studying in France. Liat was working on her Ph.D. in biology at the Pasteur Institute, while I was doing my MBA at INSEAD. Liat commented that, at the time, there was no proper solution to deal with the huge amount of available biological data. I consulted with two friends who had been with me in the Israel Defense Forces: Simchon Faigler, today chief technology officer of Compugen Inc., and Amir Natan. Together we developed a special-purpose computer for performing homology searches of biological sequences 1,000 times faster than any other solution available at the time. In 1993, we founded Compugen, and our first product was sold to Merck eight months later. Our system is still used by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to check any submission of patents for DNA sequences.
What is your vision for the development of the life sciences market?
Mintz: The last ten years have marked a tremendous change in biology. Biology has become a data-driven science because of the Human Genome Project and related activities. Looking forward, I see this trend accelerating. In fact, the means for generating the data are already here but the absence of appropriate data-mining techniques is glaringly obvious. I believe that the fate of biology in the 21st century is linked to the advancement of related mathematics and computer science.
What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
Mintz: Compugen is a leader in merging computational technologies with biology and medicine to enhance drug discovery and development. Over the years we have built a unique multidisciplinary team including more than 100 mathematicians, computer scientists, biologists, physicists, chemists, and physicians with a real understanding in biology and mathematics. To create a working environment in which professionals from such diverse disciplines are able to “speak the same language” is not a trivial achievement and took many years to accomplish.
What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Mintz: The company’s innovative predictive biology technologies support two complementary product development and commercialization divisions. Compugen’s BioApplications division offers high-value products and services that enable and enhance the discovery and functional analysis of genes, proteins and cell processes. Compugen’s Novel Genomics division is developing human therapeutic and diagnostic products based on target genes, proteins and other intellectual property. Here are three of our products:
• LEADS—a computational biology platform for analyzing genomic and protein data that accelerates discovery of drug targets and therapeutic markers. Clients include Pfizer and Novartis.
• Gencarta—an annotated genome, transcriptome and proteome database that advances post-genomic research. Clients include Avalon and Kyowa-Hakko.
• Bioccelerator—special purpose hardware and software that accelerate homology analysis. Clients include United States Patent and Trademark Office, Merck, Incyte, Millennium, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and SmithKline Beecham.
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