March 7, 2002
Robert C. Jones
Vice President, Platform Products R&D
Partnerships Help Identify New Technologies
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Jones: Applied Biosystems began operations in 1981 in a small lab in Berkeley, Calif., but soon moved to Foster City, Calif., where it is now headquartered. The founders of Applied Biosystems recognized that they could make the techniques of biotechnology more sensitive—and accessible to more scientists—by creating automated instruments and reagents to perform experiments. The founders envisioned that this would revolutionize the way biology was studied. Applied Biosystems is now the world’s leading supplier of life sciences products.
What is your vision for development of the life sciences market?
Jones: Applied Biosystems provides the tools to enable the study of biology on an industrial scale, which was not possible just a few years ago. Most notably, we introduced the ABI PRISM® 3700 DNA Analyzer, the instrument that made it possible for Celera Genomics, sister business group within Applera Corporation, and the Human Genome Project to envision and then pursue the sequencing of the entire human genome. The 3700 DNA Analyzer was the first capillary electrophoresis system that allowed researchers to perform industrial-scale sequencing. I led the engineering team that developed the original automated DNA sequencer at Applied Biosystems and feel incredibly fortunate to have contributed to a scientific achievement of this magnitude.
Applied Biosystems and the public effort both viewed the Human Genome Project as a race to the starting line. The challenge now is to use the information from the reference sequence to improve our lives through an understanding of how biology works.
What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
Jones: Applied Biosystems has evolved over the years into a worldwide sales and support organization that provides researchers with the basic tools to enable discovery. We are closely partnered with academic and biotech researchers around the world to continuously identify new and innovative technologies to incorporate in our product portfolio and to quickly bring to the market. With more than 200 software developers and bioinformatics specialists, Applied Biosystems continues to be a market leader in providing the techniques to move quality data seamlessly through the discovery pipeline.
What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Jones: Applied Biosystems offers a wide range of instrument-based systems, reagents, software, and contract services to the life sciences industry and research community. Specifically, we provide software products that analyze and manage data. These products include databases for managing information, tools for assembling and editing DNA sequence, tools for identifying differences in DNA sequence, software for identifying proteins from mass spectrometry traces, and tools for performing differential protein expression experiments.
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