Gessler is named CEO of Gene Logic

Company marketing gene-behavior data

Biotechnology

June 03, 2000|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

Gaithersburg-based Gene Logic Inc. said yesterday that its president would be named chief executive officer at Thursday's annual meeting, making official what has for some time been reality: Mark Gessler is running the company.

The announcement of Gessler's ascension to CEO, replacing co-founder Michael Brennan, comes as the genomic information company shifts into high-gear efforts to market its database of information on gene behavior. Brennan will remain the company's chairman.

Gene Logic, now set with its management team and a basic group of products, hopes the new efforts will make it profitable in a competitive industry that has been dominated by news about Rockville neighbor Celera Genomics Group. Celera is set this month to announce it has substantially assembled, in order, the human genome - the chemical encyclopedia containing all the genetic information in the human body. "We look forward to expanding revenue significantly over the next few years," Gessler said. "This is one of the hottest sectors out there."

Shares of Gene Logic, which reported a first-quarter net loss of $5 million on revenue of $5 million, closed yesterday at $27.625, up $2.375 - or 9.41 percent - on the Nasdaq stock market.

The company sells two- and three-year database subscriptions to pharmaceutical companies and scientists. Faced with a declining number of chemical compounds that work to fight illness, scientists are looking for ways to use the body's genes and proteins to arrest the spread of disease.

Gessler, 38, becomes CEO after being named a director in March, when Brennan became chairman. Brennan, 42, is expected to remain active with the company, continuing to represent it in the investment community and participating in strategic planning. That is much the same role Brennan has had since January 1999, when Gessler was promoted to president and chief operating officer from senior vice president of corporate development.

In an interview yesterday after meeting with company employees, Gessler said Gene Logic is well-positioned among what he considers the nation's three major genomic information companies, which include Celera and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Incyte Genomics. While applauding Celera's assembly of the genome, Gessler said Gene Logic provides the "next step" of products - information on how genes in the genome behave.

Gene Logic purchases both diseased and normal tissues from a number of places - including hospitals - and then uses computer chips manufactured by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Affymetrix to decipher what genes are doing in each. The information is then loaded into Gene Logic's GeneExpress 2000 database for scientists to search, allowing them to compare the behavior in the diseased and normal tissues.

Yesterday, Gessler said he sees Gene Logic's product offerings as complementary to Celera's. "There's a lot of synergy," Gessler said. Working with Celera "does make some rational sense."

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