March 7, 2002
Viaken Systems Inc.
Keith O. Elliston, Ph.D.
Chairman, President, CEO
Our Mission Is Discovery Informatics
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Elliston: I started Viaken in 1999, on the premise that Bioinformatics was a new paradigm for the science of biology. However, technological barriers to entry for most companies limited the practice of bioinformatics to top-tier organizations able to afford that type of investment. Our business has always focused on discovery informatics. Our model reflected domain expertise in life sciences and information technology, and the scientists we hired were informaticians. Viaken’s mission, early on, was to enable the practice of bioinformatics for entrepreneurial organizations by providing a complete technology solution and the scientific resources to fully utilize it.
To accomplish this, our management team originally targeted small to medium-sized companies, interested in deploying informatics initiatives applied to life sciences. We developed solutions that fully integrate and optimize the infrastructural elements (hardware, networks, security, and authentication) with the presentation, application, and data layers. Viaken’s mission today is still discovery informatics, [but we also] provide comprehensive, turnkey solutions and domain expert services to mid-market research organizations, large biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies.
What is your vision for the development of the life sciences market?
Elliston: The life sciences industry is based upon discovery, which is facilitated by putting critical information and tools in the hands of scientists and enabling them to discover new concepts, relationships, and principles. These types of discoveries encompass new drugs, disease mechanisms, and biological processes. In the past, discovery scientists produced their own data; today they can access the work of thousands of scientists worldwide.
What was once a problem of getting the data has now evolved into how to best use these data for discovery. Bioinformatics will enable these types of discoveries from large common data sets, including the human genome, microbial genomes, SNPs, and more. The life sciences laboratory then changes its role to serve as the validation of the discoveries produced by bioinformatics. Before this takes place, however, we have to put the information tools in the hands of skilled scientists.
What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
Elliston: We have built a common technology infrastructure that makes state-of-the-art tools of bioinformatics available to scientists, whether at top-tier pharmaceutical companies, entrepreneurial biotechnology companies, or even within universities. We have built an educational program that provides these scientists with the training they need to make effective use of these tools.
What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Elliston: We have organized our offerings around enabling technology and services, and discovery itself. Our Discovery Solutions business unit provides the key professional services needed to design an informatics environment or solution; our discovery products group builds and tests these solutions to make sure that they meet the customers requirements; and our managed services group maintains and supports these solutions. www.viaken.com
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