Perkin-Elmer, Dr. Craig Venter, and TIGR Announce Formation of New Genomics Company
Plan to Sequence Human Genome Within Three Years
May 9, 1998
NORWALK, CT and ROCKVILLE, MD, May 9, 1998 -- The Perkin-Elmer Corporation (NYSE:PKN), Dr. J. Craig Venter, and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) announced today that they have signed letters of intent relating to the formation by Perkin-Elmer and Dr. Venter of a new genomics company. Its strategy will be centered on a plan to substantially complete the sequencing of the human genome in three years.
The new company's goal is to become the definitive source of genomic and associated medical information that will be used by scientists to develop a better understanding of the biological processes in humans and deliver improved healthcare in the future. Using breakthrough DNA analysis technology being developed by Perkin-Elmer's Applied Biosystems Division, applied to sequencing strategies pioneered by Dr. Venter and others at TIGR, the company will operate a genomics sequencing facility with an expected capacity greater than that of the current combined world output.
Concurrently, the new company also intends to build the scientific expertise and informatics tools necessary to extract valuable biological knowledge from genomic data, including the discovery of new genes, development of polymorphism assay systems, and databases for the scientific community. Perkin-Elmer and Dr. Venter believe that this information has significant commercial value and that the new company can provide this information more rapidly and more accurately than is currently possible.
"The fundamentals of healthcare delivery and medical practice will be transformed by molecular medicine. We believe that the information developed by this new company will become the cornerstone of this new paradigm and accelerate development of new therapies, targeted diagnostics, and individualized medicine - providing therapies tailored specifically to a disease in an individual," noted Tony L. White, Perkin-Elmer's chairman, president and chief executive officer.
Mr. White continued, "We see our exciting new sequencing technology as the catalyst for this new genomics initiative - allowing us to take another step in the redefinition of Perkin-Elmer. When combined with the talents and resources of Dr. Venter and other TIGR scientists who would be employed by the new company, we believe we have the ability to quickly and cost-effectively sequence whole genomes. Together, we intend to build a new business that satisfies the rapidly growing need for genomic information and gene discovery."
Since the inception of the Human Genome Project (HGP) in 1990, a major shift in technology has been anticipated that would allow the entire sequence to be completed. To date, scientists have constructed detailed genetic and physical maps and sequenced approximately three percent of the three billion base pairs of DNA that comprise the human genome and contain the inherited instructions for human development and function.
"The Human Genome Project has been a technology-driven quest," said Dr. Michael W. Hunkapiller, senior vice president of Perkin-Elmer and president of its Applied Biosystems Division. "We're near the end of our technology development phase and about to implement a new sequencing strategy. We believe we can provide the anticipated advance that greatly expedites the sequencing phase of the entire human genome."
The new company plans to make sequencing data publicly available to ensure that as many researchers as possible are examining it and that applications, such as the development of diagnostic tests and new drug discovery, are as broad as possible.
Commenting on the proposed new venture, J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., TIGR's president and director, said, "By linking techniques that have been used by TIGR scientists with Perkin-Elmer's genetic analysis technologies, we pave the way for a new era of post-genomic discovery. The sooner researchers can access the information contained in the complete human genome, the sooner new therapies can be developed for the thousands of disorders in which genes play a role."
Dr. Venter will serve as the president of the proposed new company. Mr. White will serve as the new firm's chairman, and Perkin-Elmer's vice president of corporate planning and business development, Peter Barrett, Ph.D., will be appointed an executive vice president. Perkin-Elmer will retain ownership of approximately 80 percent of the new company, with the balance being held by TIGR, Dr. Venter, other members of management, and employees of the new company in the form of common shares and options. The company will be located in Rockville, MD.
Additional terms of the letters of intent were not disclosed, and the agreement is subject to final documentation and the approval of the boards of Perkin-Elmer and TIGR.
The Perkin-Elmer Corporation is a leading supplier of systems for life science research and related applications. It develops, manufactures, and markets life science systems and analytical instruments used in markets such as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, environmental testing, foods, agriculture, and chemical manufacturing. Headquartered in Connecticut, Perkin-Elmer had revenues of nearly $1.4 billion in fiscal 1997 and employs more than 6,000 people worldwide.
TIGR, headquartered in Rockville, MD is an independent, not-for-profit research institute founded in 1992 by Dr. Venter that employs 170 faculty and staff. TIGR has interest in structural, functional and comparative analysis of genome and gene products in viruses, eubacteria, pathogenic bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes, both plant and animal, including humans. In its brief history, TIGR has fully sequenced seven organisms. Most recently, TIGR released the DNA sequence for H. pylori, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and B. burgdorferi, the pathogen that causes Lyme disease.
Perkin-Elmer will hold a conference call, at 10:00 a.m. ET on Monday, May 11, to discuss this press release. To participate in this call, those interested should phone (203) 761-2617 to receive the conference number. This and other information about the Company is also available on the World Wide Web at www.perkin-elmer.com or by phoning (800) 762-6923.
Certain statements in this press release and its attachments are forward-looking. These may be identified by the use of forward-looking words or phrases such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "should," "planned," "estimated," "potential," and "will" among others. These forward-looking statements are based on Perkin-Elmer's current expectations. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a "safe harbor" for such forward-looking statements. In order to comply with the terms of the safe harbor, Perkin-Elmer notes that a variety of factors could cause actual results and experience to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements. The risks and uncertainties that may affect the operations, performance, development, and results of Perkin-Elmer's and the new company's businesses include but are not limited to (1) complexity and uncertainty regarding the development of new high-technology products; (2) loss of market share through competition; (3) introduction of competing products or technologies by other companies; (4) pricing pressures from competitors and/or customers; (5) changes in the life science or analytical instrument industries; (6) changes in the pharmaceutical, environmental, research, or chemical markets; (7) variable government funding in key geographical regions; (8) Perkin-Elmer's and the new company's ability to protect proprietary information and technology or to obtain necessary licenses on commercially reasonable terms; (9) the loss of key employees; (10) fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; and (11) other factors that might be described from time to time in Perkin-Elmer's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.