Corrections or additions?
Prepared for August 23, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All
Future Sarnoff Spinoff: GeneAccess
Last spring the big push to identify the human genome
was completed. Now 3 billion human genomes have been identified and
scientists are using this database to discover cures for anything
from Alzheimer’s to psoriasis. The information is free and available
at the biotechnology information site of the National Institutes
of Health, known as NCBI. But the entire genome map is a huge amount
GeneAccess.com is a wholly-owned business of Sarnoff Corporation.
An early entry into the market for convenient access to genome
it already has two CD-ROMs on the market with information that is
free from the government website but packaged in a more convenient
The price seems very cheap — $20 or $25. For that money you could
buy the CD and use it for creating wallpaper patterns. The reason
for this low cost? "We wanted to establish our presence before
others could get into the game," says Rajan Kumar, project leader.
To make sense of the data scientists need computational algorithms,
and these are what GeneAccess will sell next. "Sarnoff has
a lot of technology and algorithms — computational genomics tools
for biomedical research."
Though two of the CD-ROMs are available on the market, no marketing
has been done. "We have it indexed and accessible in small
says Kumar. He has divided the material into sequences that would
take less than 10 seconds to download on a 56k modem.
The CD-ROM for the human genome costs $20. The cancer gene CD costs
$25 with the extra charge for an extra service — separating out
the genes that are important in human cancer and adding the cancer
genes found in the mouse and rat.
The CDs are useful as a publishing tool because they can prevent
mistakes. "Any time someone publishes a paper they are required
to submit the sequence data, and we have downloaded the
Next on the market will be two of Sarnoff’s proprietary tools:
and GeneAccessBlast. The latter is a user-friendly version of the
"blast" tool available from NCBI. The "blast" is a
favorite algorithm, used by 95 percent of researchers, that allows
scientists to search the database for anything. On the NCBI site,
this tool is cumbersome, Kumar says.
As for the GeneAccessGenome, it allows scientists to use visual tools
for searches rather than text strings. It is a graphic overlay, a
visually object-oriented system.
Kumar grew up in the Punjab, where his father "gave up advancement
in his career so we could stay in one town, Patiala, for our
Kumar went to college and medical school in a 5 1/2 year program and
practiced medicine for two years. "Realizing that most advances
are going to come from molecular sciences, I came to the United States
to pursue a research career." He earned a PhD from Penn
with post doctoral studies at Johns Hopkins. Now 35 years old, he
has been at Sarnoff for five years.
— Barbara Fox
CN 5300, Princeton 08543. Rajan Kumar MD PhD, project leader.
fax, 609-734-2040. Www.geneaccess.com.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.