March 7, 2002
Chairman of the Board
Seek to Maximize Web Use
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Couch: We were founded in 1993 by two Stanford graduate students—Joel Bellenson, who was studying molecular biology, and Dexster Smith, who was studying computer science. Joel was working in the Stanford sequencing laboratory when the first ABI automated sequencer arrived, and he realized that an industrial revolution was taking place in the life sciences. He teamed up with Dexster and began writing software to handle the output of the sequencing machines, and that’s how the company originated.
Since then, the company has evolved to meet the increasing informatics needs of the life sciences market by being an innovator in bioinformatics. Our innovations have included developing the first complete Web-based solution for sequence analysis and creating the first annotated human genome database. Our goal has been to develop products that meet the needs of both large and small life science organizations, and therefore we offer both online, hosted solutions, as well as large-scale, behind-the-firewall databases and tools.
What is your vision for the development of the life sciences market?
Couch: Having been part of the personal computer revolution as an executive at Apple Computer, my motivation and vision for DoubleTwist has been to see a similar revolution in the bioinformatics industry; that is, to empower individuals with not only the life sciences information they need, but also by providing a computational environment to analyze the information that is both easy-to-use and accessible to any life scientist. Before DoubleTwist, scientists would have to be working in a large organization to gain access to powerful bioinformatic tools to analyze their data. Therefore, my goal is to put powerful yet easy-to-use tools for genomic analysis into the hands of as many scientists as possible, thereby expediting the pace of drug discovery.
What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Couch: Our flagship product is the Prophecy database and tools suite, which consists of our annotated human genome database and software for data mining and visualization. As part of our genomic-data offering we also license the Weizmann Institute’s GeneCards database and the Genomatix Promoter Resource database.
We recently launched a new online offering—the GenomeZone at DoubleTwist.com. GenomeZone provides flexible and direct access to our genomic data and is designed for companies that would prefer the cost and resource benefits of a hosted, online solution. Our most popular software product, our Clustering and Alignment Tools [CAT], is licensed by more than 30 pharmaceutical and biotech companies for analyzing large sequence databases. We also have a SNP detection tool, SNPTwist, which can be licensed for use with CAT or independently.
Which life science companies or organizations have you partnered with or invested in, and why?
Couch: Partnerships are extremely important to us, and we partner with organizations that we feel add value to the products and services we provide. Two of our key partners are Hitachi Ltd, our distribution partner for the Asia-Pacific market, and The Weizmann Institute, which has given us exclusive rights to be the commercial distributor of GeneCards. Other partners include Genomatix, Sun Microsystems, Myriad Genetics and BioTools.
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