[Updated: 3:55 pm PT, 5/3/12] Affymetrix changed the way researchers thought about genetics in the mid-‘90s when it developed the original DNA microarrays, which it trademarked as “GeneChips.” The Santa Clara company (NASDAQ: AFFX) attracted bright minds from all over the world to test their skills in biology and semiconductor technology.
Now in its 20th anniversary year, Affymetrix doesn’t have the market valuation it once did, but it still has 900 employees around the world. It’s also clear that Affy provided a formative experience for many talented people who have moved on to play key roles in different genomic and diagnostic companies across the Bay Area. The mission, to get genomic data on a microchip, drew people with skills in biology, chemistry, semiconductors, materials science, and marketing—all who were hungry for a big challenge.
“I can remember in the late ’90s and early 2000s, when we were in a very rapid growth phase, everybody had a sense we were working with a unique group of people with amazing talents,” says Thane Kreiner, a former senior vice president at Affymetrix who’s now the executive director of the Center for Science, Technology & Society at Santa Clara University. “There was a ton of energy.”
To track down the Affymetrix alumni, I’ve put together an online directory based largely on company biographies and LinkedIn bio pages. This list includes not just mover-shaker types, but also the rank-and-file in scientific and business roles. The group, in alphabetical order, includes more than 200 names at last count, and I expect it to grow over time.
You can see the Affymetrix impact on the genomics industry, and the Bay Area, when you look at who its alumni are and where they work. There are four venture capitalists in the group (John Diekman of 5AM Ventures, Sue Siegel of Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Ed Hurwitz and David Mack of Alta Partners), seven people who founded or co-founded new companies, and nine CEOs. And that’s not a comprehensive analysis.
My hope is that this list will grow with your help. If you see any information below that’s out of date or incorrect, please let me know and I’ll fix it. If you’re an alumnus and would like to be added to the list, let me know. If you have any questions, comments, or new information, please leave a comment at the bottom of this article or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
Josie Adao Adalim, senior supervisor, Abbott Nutrition
Lisa Alvis, key account manager, Illumina
Rolfe Anderson, senior director of advanced development, IntegenX
Tarif Awad, director of global market development, Sequenom
Connie (Van Lieu) Alarcon, program manager, Advantage Technical Resourcing
Dione Bailey, director of field marketing, Complete Genomics
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