- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Kathy Ordonez was named president of the Celera Genomics Group yesterday, replacing founder J. Craig Venter as head of the company best known for mapping the human genome.
She was previously president of Celera Diagnostics, a venture run by run by Norwalk, Conn.-based Applera, Celera's parent company.
Applera also said it will shift Celera's signature online genetic data library to Applied Biosystems, another Applera subsidiary. The move is the latest step the company has taken to shift Celera away from genetic research to drug development.
Changes have included the recent departure of several Celera executives, including Mr. Venter, who resigned in January but retained a position as scientific adviser.
Mr. Venter was the outspoken driving force behind Celera's sequencing of the human genetic code, but stepped aside as the company began to shift toward drug research. He has yet to say what he will do next.
Applera Chief Executive Tony White said he originally sought a top executive from the pharmaceutical industry to replace Mr. Venter, but settled on Ms. Ordonez because of her experience with the company.
"Kathy has a track record of turning technology into money. That's what we want to do here," Mr. White said.
Ms. Ordonez came to Celera from Hoffman La-Roche, where she worked on development of diagnostic tools. Applera hired her in December 2000 to oversee the creation of Celera Diagnostics, a joint venture between Applied Biosystems and Celera.
She will retain her post as president of Celera Diagnostics, which develops genetic-based tests for diseases.
Analysts' reaction to the appointment was lukewarm, as many said they would like to see someone with more experience developing drugs, rather than diagnostic technologies.
"She's had experience turning technology into product, but that's a lot different than turning a genomic discovery into a product. This isn't technology, this is drug development," said Edward Tenthoff of Robertson Stephens.
Applera also said it will shift control of its signature online genetic data business, the Celera Discovery System, from Celera to Applied Biosystems.
Celera sells access to its library of genetic information to universities, drug companies and researchers. The company and Mr. Venter have been criticized for the fee-for-access arrangement public researchers working on gene sequencing make their information available for free.
Celera competed two years ago in an often bitter race with publicly funded researchers to complete the human genome. Mr. White said the company underestimated the effect the free public databases would have on its subscription business.
"Our friends is the public sector have been more successful than we thought they would be," he said. "We decided to get ahead of that curve and not wait for this thing to deteriorate on us."
The online database will be incorporated into a new service run by Applied Biosystems of Foster City, Calif. The company manufactures equipment and software used for genetic sequencing and will incorporate the online library into a more user-friendly and interpretive format.
Analysts said the move would likely free up Celera to focus on drugs.
"Celera was getting zero credit for that business in the market. It was slowing it down and probably taking away from drug development," said James Reddoch of Banc of America Securities.
Celera will still benefit financially from the arrangement Applera expects Celera to receive between $200 million to $300 million over the next 10 years from subscription fees to the new online product.
Shares of Celera fell $1.47 to $17.90 on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday.

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