Corrections or additions?
These articlse by Barbara Fox were prepared for the March 15, 2006
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
Eleven years and several CEOs later, Orchid Cellmark is still
struggling, at least with Wall Street. Just announced: CEO Paul J.
Kelly will leave, after three years on the job, and Thomas A. Bologna,
who has a reputation on Wall Street for growing and/or selling biotech
firms, starts on the job in early April.
Orchid Cellmark offers identity DNA testing services for the human
identity area (forensic, family relationship, and security
applications) and for agriculture (food safety and selective trait
breeding). Five years ago Orchid had a 33,000 square foot laboratory
and 180 employees in Princeton. Now it has 25 employees at its College
Road headquarters, plus testing facilities in Dayton, Ohio; East
Lansing, Michigan; Dallas, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and the United
Founded in 1995 as Orchid Biocomputers, with technology spun out from
the Sarnoff Corporation, the company hoped to use its high throughput
microfluidics platforms for both drug discovery and DNA testing
("Honey, I Shrunk the Lab," U.S. 1, January 29, 1997). By 2000 when
the first CEO, Dale Pfost, took the company public, it had bought
another DNA testing firm and was ramping up that side of the business.
But two years later the stock had plummeted. In 2002 Orchid sold the
life science side of the business, ending Pfost’s dreams of using the
technology for drug discovery, and slashed jobs. (Pfost is now CEO of
Philadelphia-based Acuity Pharmaceuticals.) An executive with a
similar name, George Poste, stayed on as chairman, and then Paul Kelly
came in as CEO in 2003.
Bologna’s reputation might win some confidence from Wall Street. After
seven years as CEO of Gen-Probe, he took it public and successfully
sold it to Chugai Pharmaceuticals in 1989.
Bologna, 57, went to New York University for both his BS and MBA
degrees. He was president of a division at Becton-Dickinson. After
Gen-Probe he headed Scriptgen Pharmaceuticals and then Ostex, which he
sold in 2003 "for a significant market capitalization premium,"
according to a press release.
His most recent job was with Quorex Pharmaceuticals, which had big
potential but was suffering from a bad investment market. Quorex,
based in Carlsbad, California, hoped to use "furanones," derived from
seaweed, to fight infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria
with drugs that would clog the communication system that bacteria use
to "talk" with each other. But these drugs would take at least five
years to get to market.
Bologna was quoted in 2004 as saying that a lot of early-stage drug
discovery companies were having a "tough time." "In the current
biotech cycle, people are looking for products that are in the clinic,
preferably in Phase 2 testing," Bologna told the San Diego Union
Tribune. Bologna came on as CEO of Quorex in September, 2004, laid
nearly everybody off in November, and by December of that year he had
sold the firm to Pfizer.
In addition to a salary of $520,000 Bologna gets a $100,000 signing
bonus and stock incentives, according to filings with the SEC.
Orchid had predicted a $4 million loss for 2005 but now says the loss
will be $8 million. One bright spot is that federal government is
ramping up its use of criminal DNA databases, and Orchid Cellmark is a
leader in this field.
Orchid Cellmark Inc. (ORCH), 4390 Route 1 North, Princeton 08540;
609-750-2200; fax, 609-750-6405. Thomas A. Bologna, CEO. Home page:
Princeton Gamma-Tech Instruments Inc., 303 College Road East,
Princeton 08540; 609-924-7310; fax, 609-924-1729. Christopher Cox,
president. Home page: www.pgt.com
Princeton Gamma Tech has moved 45 workers from 36,000 feet on Route
518 in Rocky Hill to 13,000 feet on College Road East. Sab Russo of CB
Richard Ellis represented the tenant in the long-term lease. Thompson
Land bought the Rocky Hill property.
PGT was founded in 1965 by Joseph Baicker and Alden Sayres to produce
semiconductor radiation detectors of lithium-compensated germanium for
nuclear physics research laboratories. Now the firm develops and
manufactures gamma-ray and x-ray detectors and micro-analyzers.
Last year Princeton Gamma-Tech was bought by Princeton Gamma Tech
Instruments, an investment group led by California-based Finn
Partners. The former microanalysis division was bought by Bruker AXS
In 2004 the company settled with the state on its contaminated
groundwater controversy and agreed to pay $21.5 million to remove
trichloroethylene from a municipal well in Rocky Hill and from
groundwater at a Montgomery Township housing development. Princeton
Gamma-Tech did not admit guilt.
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