March 7, 2002
Mike Stapleton, Ph.D.
Unraveling Proprietary Tool Tangle
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Stapleton: Accelrys is a new company, formed in June 2001 through the combination of five leading specialist scientific software companies. These companies were Molecular Simulations Inc., Oxford Molecular, Genetics Computer Group, Synopsys Scientific Systems, and Synomics Ltd. Each was a leader in specific parts of the life science software market—these niches include bioinformatics, simulation, cheminformatics, and services.
Many of these component companies have 15- to 20-year histories in the life sciences market. All of them were founded specifically to address key issues in pharmaceutical or chemical R&D, combining core competencies in biology, chemistry, and software development. Many had close links with, or were spun-off from, university research centers.
What is your vision for the development of the life sciences market?
Stapleton: I am a Ph.D. scientist who has actively participated in the development of computational and information technology as a key resource for R&D organizations over the past 15 years. I have done so academically, within a major chemical research organization, and as a senior manager with leading vendors of software to the industry. I believe that we are at a turning point in the development of this technology.
A wide range of validated software tools, performing tasks such as gene sequence analysis, protein structure characterization, and the rational design of drugs, are now established as key tools in the drug discovery process. However, these tools are often proprietary and incompatible with corporate standards. The emergence of robust information technology standards based on Windows personal computers, combined with the computational power of today’s standard PCs, is for the first time allowing us to deliver key life science applications in an easily accessible manner, integrated with corporate IT infrastructure.
What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
Stapleton: Firstly, an unrivaled breadth of expertise. By bringing together five leading software vendors, Accelrys has assembled products, expertise, and intellectual property that span simulation and modeling, cheminformatics, bioinformatics, and tools to accelerate formulation and development. We are the only significant vendor to span more than one of these niches—let alone all of them. In each area our software tools are high-quality, widely used, and well-validated, and our employee base and collaborators include some of the world’s leading experts in the application of computation.
We have a clear vision of an integrated platform for drug discovery that is now being realised through our Discovery Studio products. Accelrys has recruited and developed a high-class software development team to marry expertise in data and information management, systems architecture and integration, workflow, and quality assurance with its scientific domain expertise.
What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Stapleton: Accelrys offers hundreds of individual products focused on specific problems spanning life science research. They can be broadly categorized as follows: bioinformatics, cheminformatics, target characterization, lead optimization and design, and toxicology and drug development.
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