Joseph F. Donahue-Destined for Science

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Kim Ribbink

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Destined for Science As one of the new breed of 40something business leaders, Joseph F. Donahue is bringing a multidiscipline skill set to help LION bioscience become the leader in improving research productivity within the lifesciences industry. BY KIM RIBBINK 64 S e p t e mb e r 2003 PharmaVOICE JOSEPH Donahue esearching and finding solutions for the lifesciences industry, through an amalgam of pure science and technol ogy, takes dedication, knowledge, and imagination. To then take that bioinformatics and datagathering expertise and turn these talents into truly effective cus tomer relations and partnerships requires ener gy, enthusiasm, and innate people skills. Joseph Donahue, president of LION bio science Inc., has managed to combine a pen chant for science and technology, a result of his own capabilities and familial experiences, with a gift for listening and problemsolving. These combined skills have elevated him from the lab to the executive level, and he is a natural choice to lead a lifesciences informatics com pany. In May 2003, Mr. Donahue was appointed president to lead the North Ameri can operations of the Germanbased LION bioscience AG, which provides software solu tions for pharma and biotech companies to improve the drugdiscovery process. “One of the reasons I focused on the infor matics side of the business was the marriage of chemistry and computers; this is an area where I felt I could make an impact,” he says. LION’s mission is to improve the research productivity of the lifesciences industry. The company does this by providing information technology (IT) solutions that address some of the key challenges in the research process. Central to ensuring these solutions accom plish their objectives is to have IT experts, sci entists, and process specialists work closely in crossfunctional teams. “There are two components to the solu tions that LION offers: technology and ser vices,” Mr. Donahue says. This is an approach that he has seen work in other companies. Above all, it is an outlook that is intrinsic to the way Mr. Donahue works and the choices he has made throughout his career. Ties that Bind With both parents working in chemistry, Mr. Donahue was more or less destined to incorporate science into his career. “It’s hard for me to know whether chem istry was an interest I’d always had or whether it was because I was around chemistry so much,” he says. His mother has a master’s degree in organ ic chemistry, with a chemical engineering background; she was one of the first employ ees hired by Eugene Garfield, Ph.D., at the Philadelphiabased Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). She spent 20 years of her career at ISI before joining Merck & Co. Mr. Donahue’s father, a chemical engineer, worked in various positions at Merck, Beecham Laboratories, and SmithKline Beecham. His work took him and his family to Ireland. Dur ing this time, Mr. Donahue was exposed to the field that became his second great interest — computer technology. He became particularly interested in the opportunities that technology could bring to the pharmaceutical industry in terms of improving processes. “My father was sent by Merck to Ireland to set up, what was at the time, the most com puterized pharmaceutical chemical manufac turing plant in Ireland and the most sophisti cated plant Merck had anywhere in the world,” the LION executive explains. “I spent a lot of time with my dad walking around the plant as WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE LIFESCIENCES INDUSTRYTHATYOU FIND INSPIRING,AND CONVERSELYWHATDOYOUCONSIDERTO BE THE INDUSTRY’S BIGGEST CHALLENGES? It’s an industry that impacts all of us at some point in our lives. It’s very rewarding to bepartof that.But the industry is oftenunder attack from multiple fronts,and it’s important to be sensitive to that.Also, the industry spends a lot of money on the R&D process, and at the same time, a lot of data are generated. The challenge I see is how to take those data and turn them into knowledge.While R&D spending keeps increasing,there hasn’t been the corresponding increase in NDAs (new drug applications) that hopefully become new drugs. One of the real challenges is to determine how to change that. Can we get R&D spending down and then increase the number of new drugs that are discovered? Technology that companies such as LION develops is part of the solution.Technology is not going to replace the underlying sci ence but it’s going to help. YOUHAVEPROGRESSED RAPIDLY IN YOURCAREER.TOWHATDO YOUATTRIBUTETHAT ANDWHAT LEGACYWOULDYOU HOPETO LEAVEATTHECOMPANIESYOU’VEWORKED AT? I would hope that my career success has something to do with the INAN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWWITHPHARMAVOICE, JOSEPH F. DONAHUE,PRESIDENTOF LION BIOSCIENCE INC.,TALKS ABOUTTHE THRILLS ANDCHALLENGESOFTHEPHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY,HIS CAREER SUCCESSES ANDASPIRATIONS,ANDTHE PEOPLEWHOHAVE INSPIRED HIM. results I achieve.That’s how I’ve helpedcompaniesgrow,how I’ve helped people grow, and how I’ve helped their relationship with their cus tomers grow. I hope my legacywill be an adoption of a focus on the cus tomers and the sales organization. This means working with customers in a partnership. WHOARE SOMEOFTHEPEOPLEWHO HAVE INSPIREDYOU? There are three people who come to mind.The first is Steve Goldby, R Inspiration and Challenges JOSEPH DONAHUE 65 PharmaVOICE S e p t e m be r 2 00 3 JOSEPH Donahue it was being built. I had the chance to under stand how pharmaceuticals were being manu factured and how, through computerized oper ations, the processes were improved. It was a bit like Star Trek — being in the control room with all the lights, seeing how a company could monitor and control a manufacturing process automatically. It was exciting stuff.” Mr. Donahue attributes his years in Ireland to opening his mind to different cultural per spectives, something he considers critical for an industry with a global presence. Mr. Donahue headed to Villanova Univer sity, his father’s alma mater, initially to study chemical engineering. But he soon recognized that this degree wasn’t going to give him the mix of chemistry and computers he had hoped for. So he switched to a joint degree in chem istry and computer science. Before graduating, he joined the BOC Group, which was looking to set up a CADD lab at its Murray Hill facilities in New Jersey. “I worked on getting the computers in for the BOC Group, setting up that lab, and working closely with some of the peo ple in the group,” he says. “Then they hired me as a consultant when I returned to college under the promise that I would come back when I graduated.” Mr. Donahue says the job was split between working in the lab as a medicinal chemist and providing computer support in the CADD lab. The allencompassing approach Mr. Donahue takes to problem solv ing began, to some extent, at BOC. “The therapeutic teams weren’t just work ing on the targets; we also were involved in try ing to understand what business to go after, what market we should go after, and doing basic marketing research to justify the pro jects we wanted to work on,” he says. The Right Byte After a year at BOC, Mr. Donahue took a posi tion at what was then Molecular Designs Ltd., now MDL Information Systems, as a field application support scien tist. The appeal for Mr. Donahue was an opportunity to work more closely in the appli cation of computer technology for the phar maceutical process, which is where his greatest interest increasingly lay. Furthermore, he was wellacquainted with MDL’s solutions, since BOC made use of MDL’s expertise in CADD and reaction synthesis planning systems. For Mr. Donahue, perhaps most critical was the opportunity to interact with cus tomers. “It was a great mix of working with customers to help them understand the research process, getting into the science with them, and helping them to translate that sci ence to how informatics systems could help them,” he says. Realizing how much he enjoyed working with the customers, Mr. Donahue decided he would be wellsuited to pursuing a career on the sales side. That took some convincing since MDL’s head of sales Tom Jones, a man Mr. Donahue counts as one of his greatest sources of inspiration, was somewhat hesitant to put a researcher in sales. But after muchpersuasion, Mr. Jones decid ed to give the young scientist a shot. Mr. Don ahue was given a tough challenge — starting in a geographic territory that had no customers and having to figure out how to develop a mar ket from scratch. Having proved his mettle, his responsibilities within the MDL sales organiza tion gradually increased until he was running the American sales operations. The 15 years at MDL were formative in establishing Mr. Donahue’s interests and tal ents. Furthermore, he had an opportunity to watch a strong management team successfully lead a company out of a potentially inflamma tory situation. MDL had been acquired in 1987 by Robert Maxwell’s conglomerate Maxwell Communi cations. After this company’s demise, MDL executives petitioned the bankruptcy court in the United Kingdom to allow it to go public, which it did in 1993. MDL was then publicly traded on the Nasdaq stock market as MDL Information Systems Inc. “The seniormanagement team, especially the CEO Steven Goldby, did a phenomenal job extracting MDL from that situation,” Mr. Don ahue says. “The company underwent an IPO on the Nasdaq and it continued to be a very successful company.” The company was acquired by Reed Elsevier in 1997. MDL remains part of the scientific and medical division of Reed Elsevier. As the company grew in size and many of the people on the senior management team moved on, Mr. Donahue decided it was time for a change. Spotfire, which had worked with MDL extensively — MDL was Spotfire’s exclusive worldwide distributor in the life sciences — became aware that Mr. Donahue was consider ing a change and offered him the position of VP of sales and marketing, leading the teams in the lifesciences and chemicals vertical mar kets across global scientific supply chains. “For me, part of the attraction to Spotfire was I enjoyed working with a smaller company and helping build the business,” he explains. “I also had an objective — I wanted to learn more about the way private organizations operated from a financial standpoint. Getting in on the ground floor of a young, growing business was something that attracted me.” During Mr. Donahue’s time at Spotfire, he looked at opportunities for expanding the company’s customer base in the lifesciences and chemical industries. Spotfire provides decisionsupport tools for several major indus tries, and its analytical tool enables users to look at data in multiple dimensions, as opposed to a program such as Excel that shows data one row at a time. Customer Centric The areas where Mr. Donahue believes he has had the greatest impact at both MDL and at Spotfire are in how he has positively impacted the people at those companies and how he helped the companies interact with their customers. At MDL, he says, he learned how critical it was for an organization to look at the big picture and understand the chal lenges faced by the customer. “That means understanding not only the who was CEO of MDL during my time there and is now CEOof Symyx Technologies. He’s a phenomenal strategist, who influenced me in terms of working with customers and building strategic partnerships with customers. Another person would be Tom Jones,who ran MDL’s sales organiza tion. Being an exMarine he had a unique style about him, and some times I didn’t understand why he made the decisions that he made. But now, after many years and hav ing hadmuchmore experience, I can understand why he made those decisions.He had an incredible focus on operational issues, in working with customers, and how to build a great customerfacing sales and marketing organization. He was probably the best per son I ever worked with in that respect. The third person is my dad, also Joseph Donahue, in terms of absolute persever ance and always doing the right thing. These are two traits he taught me that I’ll never forget. One of the reasons I focused on the informatics side of the business was the marriage of chemistry and computers; this is an area where I felt I could make an impact. 66 S e p t e mb e r 2003 PharmaVOICE JOSEPH Donahue concerns of the VP of R&D or the VP of med ical chemistry, but knowing the details from all sides, understanding what worries the peo ple in the trenches have and which tools can help them,” he explains. The experience taught him how critical it was for a leader to set the company’s vision, empower staff to make a decision, and to have people focused on the fundamentals. “I have an obligation to the people in the organization, their families and significant others, our customers, and our investors,” Mr. Donahue says. “I have an obligation to make sure we look after those people and that we ION bioscience’s products aim to improve the quality of targets and leads by providing rapid access to all data and bestofbreed applications and prediction tools. The company’s solutions consist of software components and pro fessional services to solve issues within the drugdiscovery process. It offers a scalable, adaptable, and supportable IT platform and processes to reduce time to market in drug discovery.These solutions include: SRS EVOLUTION SRS Evolution provides a package of products that deliver all the functionality needed by target identification and valida tion departments. SRS Evolution is a bioin formatics platform into which all internal, external,and thirdparty datacan be seam lessly integrated with the standard bioin formatics analysis tools. Data can be queried, connected, and combined together to enable scientists to fully exploit and understand the value of internally generated data regardless of for mat.This ensures that target identification and validation research can be effectively carried out from a single tool and no rele vant data is omitted from the decision making process. SRS Evolution is a package comprising the following components: . SRS 7.1: a data integration system . SRS Relational: provides access to rela tional data . SRS 3D: for integration anddisplay of 3D protein structures . SRS PRISMA: for automated download and formatting of data . SRS Objects: APIs for software devel opers . Trainings: for user and administrator training . Support and professional services LION DISCOVERYCENTER The LION DiscoveryCenter is designed to provide a single point of access to all lifesci ences data, covering the entire drugdiscovery process. Solutions built on the technology of LION DiscoveryCenter integrate lifesciences data,applications,and decision support tools in a userfriendly desktop interface and form a scalable drugdiscovery decision platform. It is a software environment that provides an integrated view of chemical and biological information held in both internal and external repositories. It builds and presents cogent representa tions of relationships between biological and chemical data, which improves the quality of research.The user gains contextsensitive infor mation, so the right decisions can be made more quickly. LION DiscoveryCenter facilitates collabora tion to support teams working together and increases productivity. LIONTARGET ENGINE LION Target Engine is a fully scalable and adaptable solution, which delivers in silico sup port for target identification and validation, extendable to cover the entire drugdiscovery process. LION Target Engine is based on LION Dis coveryCenter, complemented by a broad range of optional components. Each component has specific functionalities essential for target iden tification and validation. A centralized Gene Hub allows the interconnection of all data in the system. The product’s functionalities include: . Central data unifying gene hub The LION Solutions . Annotation of nucleic acid and protein sequences . Pathway and proteinprotein interac tions interpretation . Genome analysis . Experimental results visualization . Text mining . Protein structure analysis . Sequence registration . APIs to extend thirdparty and legacy tools LION LEAD ENGINE The LION Lead Engine is a software solution in the area of cheminformatics, supporting processes in lead identification and lead optimization. LION Lead Engine provides a fully inte grated cheminformatics desktop built on LION DiscoveryCenter architecture for expert and nonexpert users in large phar ma.Functionality includes: . Data integration (parallel access to com pound databases under Oracle) . Standard chemical structure searching capabilities on databases . Property searching capabilities . Similarity searching capabilities . Visualization capabilities (spreadsheet, export to third party,etc.) . Access to chemical compute services . Integration of LION’s iDEA ADME predic tion service L 68 S e p t e mb e r 2003 PharmaVOICE JOSEPH Donahue have a viable business to support those people. A business can’t grow without people, and it certainly can’t grow without customers.” Mr. Donahue has brought that perspective into his position at LION. “It is critical to build a strong customer focused organization, and that’s on multiple levels,” he notes. “For the scientists, the technical informatics people, and the account representatives who work with customers on a regular basis, the focus must be to, firstly, make sure that customers’ current solutions continue to work as adver BAYER AG LION and Bayer entered into a fiveyear alliance in 1999. Under the alliance, which is largely based on the formation of a new research subsidiary, LION has been devel oping and applying new IT systems for ultra highthroughput identification and validation of new drug targets, gene expression markers, and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). CELERA The two companies have entered into a strategic alliance to develop and deliver software tools through the Celera Discov ery System, a Webbased portal through which a variety of customers access Cel era’s databases and analysis tools. In addi tion, Celera will offer LION’s automated genome annotation, comparison, and expression analysis tools, bioScout, genomeScout, and arrayScout, through the CDS. THE GERMANCANCER RESEARCH CENTER (DKFZ) LION has entered into an agreement with the DKFZ for exclusive access to DNAarray technologydeveloped byDr.JrgHoheisel and bioinformatics software developed by Dr. Martin Vingron. ELECTRIC GENETICS LION bioscience has formed a collabora tion with Electric Genetics (Cape Town, South Africa) in the fields of transcriptome and expression variation analysis. LION uses Electric Genetics’ wellestablished stackPACK ESTclustering and analysis tool to develop software for accelerated gene discovery and annotation. THE EUROPEAN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY LABORATORY (EMBL) AND THE EUROPEAN BIOIN FORMATICS INSTITUTE (EBI) LION has exclusive technology trans fer agreements with the EMBL, the mother institute of both LION and the SRS system, for SRS and further bioinformatics software. GENEPROT LION bioscience AG and GeneProt Inc. have entered into a threeyear strategic alliance and marketing collaboration. The two companies will comarket their joint solutions in the pro teomics area enabling customers to integrate their data across different disciplines. IBM The strategic alliance between IBM and LION bioscience combines technologies for scientific data analysis, management, and integration with a powerful information technology infras tructure and implementation services. Based on the combined technologies and services, the two companies can offer a onestop enter prisewide solution. MDL LION and MDL Information Systems Inc., a lead er in discovery informatics for the lifesciences and chemistry industry and academia, have entered into software licensing and reselling agreements. LION will license a wide range of MDL’s industrystandard informatics applica tions and databases in order to develop and commercialize software applications that can interface with MDL’s widely deployed products. PARACEL LION has signed an agreement for GeneMatch Business through Partnerships er,a genetic data analysis system fromPara cel Inc. LION uses the system in genetic sequence characterization as a component of a highthroughput alert system for iden tifying novel target genes. PARADIGM GENETICS INC. LION entered into an alliance with Paradigm Genetics to develop new prod ucts and to identify targets for cropproduc tion,nutrition,and humanhealth.This part nership is initially concentrating on developing informatics tools for metabolic profiling to predict changes in biochemical pathways, as well as phenotypic analysis tools to predict and analyze gene function. SCHERINGAG In April 2003, LION bioscience AG announced a sixyear global licensing deal with Schering AG for LION DiscoveryCen ter. Schering plans to deploy the platform for the establishment of its enterprisewide target validation platform. SGI sgi provides LION bioscience with hard ware for LION’s Life Science Informatics and Genomics Research and has a collabora tion agreement with LION. JOSEPH Donahue 69 PharmaVOICE S e p t e m be r 2 00 3 tised. Secondly, we must work with customers so they understand where the company is going from a strategic standpoint and that our future developments are in line with the objectives and challenges they face. Then, as a company, we have to be more proactive in talking to customers about the directions in which we’ll be taking new solutions.” To do that, LION has narrowed its focus. Over the past year, the company has closed its drugdiscov ery unit and discontinued some of its IT products. The company’s focus also has shifted to develop ing a modular data and application integration platform, further develop ing its professional ser vices, and continuing to focus on marketing and developing its SRS, sequence retrieval system, products. Mr. Donahue says the difficulty for the company was to both potentially compete with customers on the drugdiscovery side, as well as offer them solutions to help in their drugdiscovery efforts. “LION is focused on the right aspect of the business, which is lifesciences informatics,” he says. Retrieval and Delivery LION was founded in March 1997 by a group of molecular biologists and bioinfor maticians from Heidelberg’s worldrenowned research institutions, including the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), the German Cancer Research Center, and the Universi ty of Heidelberg. The company com bines its scientific and IT expertise to develop inno vative integration and knowledgemanagement solutions aimed at radical ly streamlining drugdis covery processes to save time and money. That expertise derives from LION’s former drugdis covery business as well as from major integration and knowledge management collaborations with companies such as Bayer AG, Schering AG, and others. (For more information, see box on page 68.) The company came to the forefront with its SRS bioinformatics platform. SRS provides the bioinformatics backbone for more than 200 commercial and academic institutions, including many of the world’s major pharma ceutical companies. SRS Evolution is a bioin formatics platform into which all internal, external, and thirdparty data can be seamless ly integrated with the standard bioinformatics analysis tools. This platform enables the user to query all relevant data from a single user interface and launch any analysis tool without the need to cut and paste data between sepa rate interfaces. LION has since extended its information integration expertise with LION Discov eryCenter, a modular platform providing seamless integration of biological and chemi cal data and applications so that researchers can make smarter decisions faster. The company recently announced the launch of LION Target Engine, a solution for identifying and validating targets. In June, LION announced that Siena Biotech, an Ital ian biomedical company, had become the first customer for LION Target Engine. Another new LION offering is the LION Lead Engine, which identifies, categorizes, and optimizes leads in the chemical phase. (For more information, see box on page 66.) What sets the company apart from others in the field, Mr. Donahue says, is its approach to business. “Rather than coming at business from the approach of programming and prototyping a product and then trying to figure out how the company can sell a solution, LION works closely with customers in a partnership to develop products.” One such partnership is with Bayer AG. In June 1999, LION and Bayer entered into a fiveyear, $100 million alliance to increase the speed and efficiency of Bayer’s enterprisewide gene and drugdiscovery efforts through the use of an information technologybased man agement system. Under the alliance, LION is developing and applying new ITsystems for ultrahigh throughput identification and validation of 500 new drug targets, 70 new annotations on existing Bayerowned gene targets, and an undisclosed number of gene expression mark ers and SNPs. That partnership has since been expanded. (For more information, see box on page 68.) “The relationship with Bayer is a perfect example of how the company did informatics outsourcing for bio sites worldwide and then turned the solutions into organically devel oped products that can be marketed to other customers,” Mr. Donahue says. “Bayer has been able to use some of the systems we’ve developed on an exclusive basis. This is tech nology that we own and that we can commer cialize ourselves after one year. And LION has the advantage of marketing products that have been field tested.” F PharmaVoice welcomes commentsabout this article.Email us at MAY 2003 — PRESENT. President, LION bioscience Inc., Cambridge,Mass. Responsible for leading LION’s NorthAmerican operations and providing guidance to thecompany’sworld wide sales and business operations. APRIL2000 — SEPTEMBER2002.VP,salesand marketing, life sciences and chemical,Spot fire Inc., Somerville, Mass. Responsible for leadership of worldwide sales and marketing groups in life sciences and chemicals vertical markets across global scientific supply chains. JUNE 1998 — APRIL 2000. VP, North American sales, MDL Information Systems/Beilstein Information Systems, San Leandro,Calif. FEBRUARY 1996 — JUNE 1998. Regional sales director and manager, MDL Information Systems/Beilstein Information Systems, San Leandro, Calif. NOVEMBER1991 — JANUARY 1996.Regional senior and strategic accountmanager,MDL Information Systems/Beilstein Information Systems, San Leandro, Calif. SEPTEMBER 1988 — OCTOBER 1991. Account manager, MDL Information Systems/Beil stein Information Systems,San Leandro, Calif. AUGUST 1986 — SEPTEMBER 1988. Field application support scientist, MDL Information Systems/Beilstein Information Systems,San Leandro, Calif. JUNE 1985 — JULY 1986. Research Chemist,The BOC Group Inc., Murray Hill, N.J. EDUCATION 1985.B.S. in chemistry and computer science,Villanova University AMultidimensional Approach JOSEPH DONAHUE — RESUME Mr.Donahue attributes his years in Ireland to openinghis mind to different cultural perspectives, a view he considers critical for the pharmaceutical industry with its global presence.

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