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This article was prepared for the October 17, 2001 edition of
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From Genomics To Pharma Gold
Sequencing the genome was a triumph, but the next step
— finding the structure of the genome — is what will produce
the pharmaceutical gold. The concept of structural genomics emerged
only four or five years ago, says Gaetano Montelione
University’s Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine (CABM).
"Only a rough draft of the complete human genome sequence became
available last year. There is a long way to go even from small
to things you can use in humans."
He points out that the sequencing is generally thought to be a major
landmark in human intellectual history, "and it will provide many
opportunities, but to impact healthcare we need to understand what
the proteins do that are quoted by the genes, what they look like,
and how they work." A "Structural Genomics in Pharmaceutical
Design CABM Symposium" is set for Wednesday and Thursday, October
24 and 25, at the Doral Forrestal. It is being presented by the
CABM, the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, and the
Princeton Technology Institute. Cost: $495, with some fellowships
available. Call 609-987-1202 or go to www.nesg.org or
This is the first U.S.A.-based scientific conference in which
Technology Institute will participate. PTI is the new division of
Hannover Fairs-USA at the Carnegie Center. The organizers include
Aaron Shatkin, Edward Arnold
of the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The conference
on new research, technologies and trends in structural biology for
pharmaceutical design, structural and functional genomics. Speakers
are coming from Yale, Harvard, Rockefeller University, Argonne
Laboratories, University of Washington, National Cancer Institute,
and Glaxo Smith Kline. Scientists — even those from Europe and
Asia — says Mette Pearson
airplane travel concerns.
Among the Rutgers-based speakers are Casimir Kulikowski
chairs a panel on informatics, and Helen Berman
Rutgers’ Protein Data Bank. Masayori Inouye
chairs a panel on protein production and drug design, with
from Arnold and Robert Powers
of Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute chairs a
structural bioinformatics panel that includes Rutgers professor
of the medical school is also a panelist.
The CABM’s first meeting, held in Avalon, was the first public meeting
in this field. Both New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology
and the National Institutes of Health fund CABM’s academic research,
and a number of pharmaceutical companies are also involved. One of
the ways that academic institutions can transmit information to the
New Jersey pharmaceutical companies is by having meetings and inviting
Another academic/corporate exchange opportunity will be when Princeton
University’s Center for Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials hosts
an annual review on Thursday, November 1, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the
university’s computer science building (www.poem.princeton.edu).
Among the subjects will be medical and biomolecular imaging presented
by Warren S. Warren
of PharmaSeq, nanofluidics and DNA detection by Jonas Tegenfeldt,
and synthetic gene networks for cellular based competition by Ron
Weiss. Cost: $50. Call Debra Warren
Rutgers’ Montelione says that, after four years of CABM’S organizing
conferences on the genome sequence project, the next step is to
structures and biological functions of the proteins. "Genes are
like the blueprints for little machines that are the proteins,"
says Montelione, a Rutgers professor of molecular biology and
"Once you discover the gene, you don’t necessarily know what the
protein does or what it looks like. To make drugs — to design
small molecules to fit in its crevices and nooks — you need to
know the protein’s function and what it looks like."
"From the first meeting, a lot of interest was generated both
in private industry and in the federal government," says
"In part, because of that meeting, the NIH created a $200 million
fund for nine structural genomics projects and Rutgers is the center
of one project. We continue to hold these meetings to bring together
people in the field to look at new ideas."
Rutgers is one of nine centers that NIH has funded for $25 million
each. This Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium (www.nesg.org)
also includes Columbia and Yale.
Rutgers also has the protein data bank, called Research Collaboratory
Structural Bioinformatics (www.rcsb.org), that is the international
depository for all protein structures that anyone discovers with
funding. It has about 10,000 structures, deposited over the past 20
years, and the size is growing exponentially. As a requirement of
the NIH funding new structures must be deposited in this bank within
six to eight weeks of their discovery, and then they are in the public
A graduate of Cornell, Class of ’81, Montelione has a PhD from Cornell
and did postdoctoral work in Zurich, Switzerland, and the University
of Michigan at Ann Arbor. "I stated as a marine biologist but
continued to get more details on how things work at a molecular and
at an atomic level. By the time I graduated, I was a physical chemist,
and later came back to biology but with very strong physical
"The reason I was drawn into structural genomics is that I am
a structural chemist, but my field is molecular biophysics, and I
am in a very strong molecular biology department at Rutgers,"
says Montelione. "So early on I was more aware of the gene
projects than some other molecular biophysicists."
Montelione’s personal research focus is on the technologies for making
the samples and determining the structures very rapidly, and in
data collection methods and automated analysis software for 3-D
from nuclear magnetic resonance radiography and x-ray crystallography
data. What is the earliest possible date to get good information on
structural genomics, good enough to really accelerate drug discovery?
Montelione thinks this field is 15 years behind the gene sequencing
efforts, even if massive funding comes through: "Fifteen years
ago, they were in the stage we are now."
"Now, you can sequence thousands of genes a day," he says.
"Traditionally, it takes six months or a year to reach the goal
of through-putting one three-D structure. Our goal is to through-put
one structure a day."
The American Flag, the Playboy Bunny, Coca Cola, and,
trailing behind in fourth place, the Christian cross. Survey after
survey places these aggressively marketed icons as the most recognized
symbols in the entire world. You may not care if some yak herder in
outer Mongolia recognizes your company emblem — at least not yet.
But wouldn’t it be nice if every Garden State resident automatically
linked your logo with your firm’s product?
"How to Build Your Brand and Grow Your Business," a seminar
to be held Wednesday, October 24, from 8 to 10:30 a.m., aims at
you do exactly that. Sponsored by the advertising firm Princeton
of Forrestal Center and by Piscataway-based Avantt Consulting, the
workshop will feature speakers Fred Teger
head of Princeton Partners’ Brand Intelligence Office. Together, they
will guide participants through the process of selecting a brand
and infuse it with the focused direction of their company. The seminar
is at Middlesex County Community College’s Edison Campus, the Bunker
Lounge in the Student Center. Cost is $50 for those pre-registered
before October 19, $75 at the door. Register at 609-452-8500. Further
information can be obtained from www.princetonpartners.com/seminars.
"Too many companies," notes Avantt’s Teger, "begin by
grinding out a product that they love; then planning an ad campaign,
then as an afterthought, they slap on a brand name or logo." The
product never becomes differentiated in the public mind, because it
never gets truly defined in its own company’s mind.
For the past 25 years, Brooklyn-born Teger has labored to aided high
tech and other firms helping forge unified business plans, each behind
their chosen brand. Using his Columbia and University of Pennsylvania
electrical engineering training, Teger became vice president of
and head of product development for Phillips Electric. He saw early
on that businesses needed more than merely engineering and producing
the best available widgets. During his past three years with Avantt,
he has — in his words — "taught strategic planning to
the strategically impaired."
The brand name, Teger insists, remains the lynchpin of all your
planning — both long and short range. And it begins at home. Every
employee, from the lady on the line to the woman in the boardroom,
must know exactly what their brand stands for, what they are striving
to achieve in the market. And most important, it must govern each
and every daily decision of each staff member.
Initially, Teger points out, company leaders should analyze their
competition, the market, their products and their own realistic
From there they must select exactly what they want their brand to
represent. Do you want to be a price leader, a la K-Mart? The most
attractive price regardless? Do you want to go top of the line, and
blanket your public image with a quilt of quality, service and
Maybe you have the edge on speed and service.
Whatever your choice, this product goal must be communicated within
the firm. "Ideally," says Teger, "your brand name and
its meaning should be explained within a simple, single page.
that can be posted, and every employee will understand how his
job fits into the total goal." If service stands as your forte,
each receptionist will need a thorough response training. Maybe she
needs to sound smug rather than perky. Trying to sell class to the
masses? Your maintenance, and building crews had best learn the value
of keeping that showroom ultra plush.
Once you have focused your energies within, the time has come to
your product outward. The right brand name will act as a short cut
to the public mind for every aspect you want to stand for — and
a few things you’d rather they forget. "Rolls Royce" instantly
embraces images of comfort, incredibly smooth ride, status, luxury,
quality and absolutely mythical service. It also conjures up visions
of rare and specialized mechanics taking their own sweet time while
installing only extravagantly priced parts. To help companies harness
a flow of more positives than negatives behind their brand, Princeton
Partners’ Engelsman has developed a six-step brand delineation
Upon leaving his hometown of Madison, New Jersey, Engelsman took a
crammed-full bachelors degree at Ohio Wesleyan, where he majored in
Theater, Speech and Broadcasting, with a minor in Journalism. "It
was a meld," he says, "made for advertising, and it led me
to a full decade with several New York ad firms." Now after an
additional nine years with Princeton Partners, Engelsman agrees with
Teger that selecting the right brand and making your firm "totally
true to it" stands as the first and most important step. Yet the
remaining five will bear witness of your efforts to the public.
with its customers. Even if it’s only "use our soap and you will
smell good," the client must feel that every product line of yours
carries something beyond the tangible item is his hand.
solidified, they must be presented behind the proper brand name, logo
and perhaps a motto. Ideally it speaks directly to the product and
all you offer. "Nobody Beats the Wiz" (the actual company
name) leaves little doubt that here is probably a great place to seek
out the cheapest possible television set.
The car buyer wants his value reinforced. He wants to feel he made
the right choice for all this cash he has just plunked down. Snapple
buyers want something different. So instead, Snapple has convinced
folks that theirs is a fun thing — ideal for this casually
caters to the rational side of the purchaser. "Nine out of 10
dentists endorse . . ." or "Special safety features have been
recently installed . . ." The emotional and rational parts of
a product’s desirability must be kept in balance.
Also, notes Engelsman, "people are smarter than you think. The
best way to kill a bad product is to give it good advertising. Your
product had best live up to its brand name in every aspect or every
succeeding product will also be deemed a lie."
tiles in Home Depot and Lowe’s or would you create a more valued image
through a series of small custom decorating shops? Whatever levels
of product quality, service, speed, etc. you select, must be able
to be carried through your entire distribution network.
planning should come at the end. It remains much easier to expand
or redistribute business assets, than to re-switch onto the right
track a brand name which has begun rolling wrong.
— Bart Jackson
Labor union apprenticeships can be hard to find, but
here is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor in the
industry. The Middlesex County Economic Opportunities Corporation
(MCEOC) will hold an information meeting and candidate screening
on Thursday, October 25, at 6:30 p.m., at Tabernacle Baptist Church
in 239 George Street, New Brunswick.
Those approved to be apprentices will get free classroom and hands-on
job training at the New Jersey Building Laborers Training and
facility in Monroe township. Classes start in January.
To be eligible, candidates must have a New Jersey driver’s license
and either a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. Candidates must
be in the low to middle-income bracket. Graduates of this program
join the Laborers International Union of North America to work on
construction projects administered by the MCEOC. Call Beverly
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