23andMe Steals Another Genentech Vet for Roster

Published: Apr 06, 2015

23andMe Steals Another Genentech (RHHBY) Vet to Roster
April 3, 2015
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

California-based 23andMe, a personal genomics and biotechnology company, announced on April 2 that it was appointing Robert Gentleman as the vice president of computational biology. Gentleman was formerly the senior director of bioinformatics and computational biology at Genentech , the Roche subsidiary.

“My hope is that my experience can help bring better treatments to market fast for the patients who need them most,” said Gentleman. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with the 23andMe community so we can together find these great cures. It is the commitment of the active 23andMe research community that enables this potentially groundbreaking venture.”

Gentleman will bring more than 30 years of experience to the 23andMe team. Prior to working at Genentech, he was a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a professor at Harvard University.

“Dr. Gentleman is a trailblazer in his field,” said Andy Page, president of23andMe. “A scientist of his caliber coming to the company speaks volumes about the rigorous scientific foundation 23andMe has built and the unique opportunity our data set provides to identify significant genetic discoveries.”

Bringing Aboard Genentech Expertise
This is not the first time that a former Genentech employee has joined 23andMe. On March 12, the company announced the hiring of Richard Scheller, a former Genentech executive. At the time, 23andMe also revealed the creation of a new therapeutics group, which Scheller was hired to operate. He was also given the titles of chief science officer and head of therapeutics at 23andMe.

“I have dedicated my life to research aimed at fulfilling unmet needs for very sick people,” said Scheller, at the time of the announcement. “I believe that human genetics has a very important role to play in finding new treatments for disease. I am excited about the potential for what may be possible through 23andMe’s database. It is unlike any other.”

Gentleman, who was recently appointed, is set to work alongside his Genentech colleague in his new position. Both Scheller and Gentleman will be tasked with helping the therapeutics group use data analytics to advance the drug discovery and research process.

“With Dr. Scheller joining the team, we are putting significant resources into translating genetic information into the discovery and development of new therapies for our customers and the world,” said 23andMe CEO and Co-Founder Anne Wojcicki.

BioSpace Temperature Poll
After last week's news that Gilead had issued a health advisory to doctors, concern is growing after nine patients taking Harvoni or Sovaldi along with another drug, amiodarone, were treated for abnormally slow heartbeats. One of the patients died of cardiac arrest. Three of the nine patients required a pacemaker. That has BioSpace asking, what next?

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