"The lessons of bioinformatics' recent boom and bust cycle have not been lost on Rainer Fuchs, vice president of research informatics and operations at Biogen Idec.
Fuchs, who spoke at Cambridge Healthtech Institute's inaugural Bridging Discovery and IT conference here last week, said that he's "seeing a shift from lofty expectations" about what bioinformatics can accomplish "to more realistic, smaller projects with a better [return on investment]."
Fuchs asked for a show of hands from those attendees who saw "significant cost savings" in drug discovery from their investment in informatics over the last several years.
Not one hand was raised."
Infoworld Memo to software vendors: Biotech wants smart pitches
"Those charged with hearing pitches from software vendors who want to sell wares to biotechnology companies don't like these words: "enterprise-wide solution." They don't want to hear the generic wonders of the "solution" being pitched, they don't want to hear marketing buzzwords or that the software will revolutionize the pharmaceutical business. They won't believe that kind of approach and they will show the software vendor the door, perhaps within minutes, without an invitation back."
"But perhaps the largest issue has little to do with technology, but with getting recalcitrant scientists excited about tools available to them."redux [04.28.03]
Mass High Tech Bioinformatics’ promise meets with plenty of resistance at local biotechnology companies
"Leading executives speaking at several recent seminars, however, suggested that this cross-tech hybrid is not generating the gains that proponents initially projected.
One challenge to the effectiveness of bioinformatics is that independent software developers have not been able to develop useful products for life sciences companies looking to save time and money.
“Very few companies, if any, can give us a turnkey solution,” said Mark Murcko, chief technical officer at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, at a recent panel discussion."redux [03.08.03]
The Kingston Whig-Standard High-tech darling suddenly closes its doors
""We have great technology - perhaps ahead of its time," Molecular Mining president and CEO Evan Steeg said yesterday.
Steeg refused to go into details about the company's demise, citing legal reasons. He said it was hard to make things work for the biotechnology and information technology hybrid in an economy where corporations in both sectors have tightened their belts."
"The market for bioinformatics firms like Molecular Mining is "brutal," Molloy said."redux [02.24.03]
The Boston Globe Data glut
"To some extent, the life sciences market, which relies heavily on computational biology, has lived up to the promise. Research centers in both the private and public sectors placed orders last year for thousands of servers and storage systems capable of handling terabytes of the new genomic, proteomic, drug, and health care data generated hourly.
That's the good news. The bad news is that, during the past year, companies that develop software tools for managing and exploiting all of the new data struggled mightily. Red ink, consolidation, and layoffs were the norm. Welcome to the tumultuous world of ''bioinformatics,'' the underachieving wonder child of a genomics revolution-in-waiting."redux [12.12.02]
The Economist The race to computerise biology
"Bioinformatics: In life-sciences establishments around the world, the laboratory rat is giving way to the computer mouse--as computing joins forces with biology to create a bioinformatics market that is expected to be worth nearly $40 billion within three years."
"Welcome to the world of bioinformatics--a branch of computing concerned with the acquisition, storage and analysis of biological data. Once an obscure part of computer science, bioinformatics has become a linchpin of biotechnology's progress. In the struggle for speed and agility, bioinformatics offers unparalleled efficiency through mathematical modelling. In the quest for new drugs, it promises new ways to look at biology through data mining. And it is the only practical way of making sense of the ensuing deluge of data."redux [11.30.02]
Bio-IT World The Business of Bioinformatics
"Bioinformatics as a business, not to be confused with bioinformatics as a field of study, is at an interesting crossroads. As an academic branch of learning, bioinformatics remains mostly what it always was -- a cross-disciplinary endeavor between computer science and molecular biology. But bioinformatics as a money-making proposition has different criteria for success, and it has received a lot of bad press lately, some of it deserved."
"During this golden age, bioinformaticists developed software that computational biologists could use to make biological discoveries based on genomic data. But the industry swerved off course by selling expensive systems that focused on the individual pieces of a solution, without heeding downstream processes that were the actual bread-and-butter of our customers. Bioinformatics has always been about integrating data and converting it into information. When it loses that focus, it loses its value to the customer."redux [11.05.02]
The New York Times Companies That Seek Cures Now Fight for Life
[requires 'free' registration]
"The biotechnology industry is facing one of its worst financial squeezes ever. The prices of many biotechnology stocks have plummeted, and Wall Street's vaults have snapped nearly shut, making it almost impossible for capital-hungry companies to finance themselves."
"Another sector that has suffered is bioinformatics, which uses computers to analyze masses of genetic data. Several young companies have gone out of business or been acquired for a pittance after sales did not meet expectations."redux [07.09.02]
Washington Business Journal Venture capital scarce for bioinformatics players
"Most agree that venture money is there for companies -- but the pressure must seem insurmountable for entrepreneurs, who probably feel like they have to give the perfect business pitch to venture capitalists just to get a foot in the door.
"If people aren't rethinking their models, they're nuts; if they were waiting for Viaken to be their wake-up call, they're nuts," Nelson says."redux [04.18.02]
GenomeWeb After the Fall, DoubleTwist's Williamson Performs Stoic Postmortem
""Bioinformatics is heterogeneous, but many bioinformatics [tools] fulfill a narrow niche," said Williamson. "There is room for someone to consolidate, but I don't know if that is needed or necessary. Plus there's always an academic coming up with the next thing. So it's a hard business to sustain."
Bioinformatics "is great for smaller companies," he went on. And there are "people who can tie the islands of analysis together, and who have the resources to pull it off, but is that a business? That's the million dollar question. And will anyone buy it if you can pull it together? Everybody wants to be the Microsoft Office of bioinformatics, but I'm not sure that's going to happen.""redux [03.11.02]
The Boston Globe No boom yet in analysis of drug data
"The emerging field of bioinformatics, the use of computers to analyze the inner workings of biology, is transforming an industry that just a decade ago relied on the manual labor of chemists and biologists. But even as it does so, bioinformatics is floundering as a business.
Shares of public companies that sell biological data or software are trading at a fraction of what they did two years ago. Dozens of companies have crowded into the field. Some have folded; others have survived only by morphing into drug-discovery companies.
''It's a hard market to build a business around,'' said Oliver Fetzer, a vice president at Boston Consulting Group."redux [02.11.02]
MSNBC The Gene Bubble
"LIKE EVERY BUBBLE, this one had to burst. Stock prices of many bioinformatics firms have fallen sharply in recent years. LION Biosciences of Germany went public at $40 a share and now trades at about $13. Iceland's DeCode is worth a fourth of its former high. Even Celera, the U.S. firm that helped decode the human genome, is off its peak.
Falling stock prices are a symptom of a greater disappointment in bioinformatics. A few years ago the laborious and quirky process of drug discovery seemed on the verge of giving way to new streamlined, data-driven methods. Some firms organized the blizzard of genetic data into databases that researchers could mine with search engines from still other firms. Software companies built computer programs that modeled what goes on in human cells and even whole organs. Many investors came to believe that bioinformatics would open a new avenue to the discovery of drugs. But this avenue simply hasn't materialized. Says biotech analyst Earling Refsum at Nomura Bank in London: "Bioinformatics has not helped Big Pharma get more drugs into the pipeline.""redux [01.03.02]
WashTech.Com Low Fliers Behind the Drugs
"Inside the laboratories of the world's major pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology start-ups, an emerging science is quietly transforming the drug industry. Bioinformatics -- the use of computers to analyze the inner workings of biology -- is helping researchers pinpoint the roots of diseases and design sophisticated medicines to treat them.
But even as it becomes a vital part of drug research, bioinformatics as a business is losing favor with investors. Shares of publicly traded firms that sell biological data and software tools are slumping, and venture capitalists are increasingly wary of investing in such companies.redux [12.18.01]
Signals Magazine Bioinformatics: Time to Morph
"There comes a point in the life cycle of every organism when it must change or perish. For bioinformatics, the time for metamorphosis is now. Though computational biology is already an intrinsic part of the drug discovery process, the business models adopted by most bioinformatics firms have failed to produce profits. Competition -- from the IT industry and big pharma itself -- is growing and investors, both public and private, are unimpressed. While some companies are hoping persistence pays off, many are pursuing new business models that should allow them to retain a bigger share of the profits they are helping to create."redux [03.14.01]
ABCNews.Com The Next Bubble: Is Bioinformatics the Next Big Boom...and Bust?
"The story proclaimed in its lead, "Move over Information Age. Make room for the age of bioinformation." You could picture bleary eyes opening all over the Bay Area. The story went on to note that a San Jose consulting firm was predicting a 10 percent annual growth in the bioinformatics market for years to come; and that the National Science Foundation estimated that 20,000 new jobs in the field would be created in the field in just the next four years.
If that wasn't enough, the rest of the section was filled with page after page of biotech firms listing job openings - in powerful juxtaposition to the endless lists of dot-com layoffs just a few pages earlier. Picture Starbucks spit-takes from Marin to Santa Cruz.
Wow! Rewrite that resume to emphasize that biology course you took in college. Roll your Aeron chair down to the nearest lab. Trade that black turtleneck for a white lab coat..."
“Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.”BIOINFORMATICS IN THE 21st CENTURY
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