Fisher teams up with U Michigan: Collaboration to foster new technology development

Looking to expand its future product offerings in fields ranging from high-throughput screening to protein expression to RNAi, Fisher Biosciences launched a five-year collaboration with the Center for Chemical Genomics at the University of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute (LSI). In exchange for providing technical expertise and financial support, Fisher will have the opportunity to license new technologies arising from the collaboration.

Randall C Willis
HAMPTON, N.H.—Looking to expand its future product offerings in fields ranging from high-throughput screening to protein expression to RNAi, Fisher Biosciences launched a five-year collaboration with the Center for Chemical Genomics at the University of Michigan's Life Sciences Institute (LSI). In exchange for providing technical expertise and financial support, Fisher will have the opportunity to license new technologies arising from the collaboration.
 
"Fisher Biosciences is looking to couple its in-house expertise with practitioners of science, tapping into active research to harness new discoveries," says Dr. Leland Foster, Fisher Biosciences CEO. "The move will enhance our portfolio of products and make sure that research scientists are kept as up-to-date as possible."
 
Under the terms of the agreement, university and Fisher Biosciences representatives will jointly review project proposals submitted by researchers for merit in the development of new tools, ideas and methodologies. Fisher Biosciences believes it can cover more scientific ground by taking a cross-disciplinary approach as opposed to signing separate deals with individual researchers.
 
"Not all of the great brains exist within Fisher, so we are casting our net widely to harvest ideas from outside of the company," says Foster. "The University of Michigan is a well-known university with a large faculty and has been a longtime supporter of Fisher as a user of our products."
 
The program will start modestly in early 2006 and the company will increase its support as the collaboration goes forward. At the moment, says Foster, no specific dollar amount has been budgeted to the program.
 
"This exciting program will foster innovative approaches using chemical inhibitors or activators to dissect the biological function of genes and gene products," says Dr. David Sherman, director, LSI Center for Chemical Genomics. "The opportunity to forge close ties with Fisher Scientific and its specialty technology units promises to be highly productive and complementary."
 
The announcement comes on the heels of a two-year period in which Fisher Biosciences has aggressively pursued an active position in the drug discovery market, with acquisitions of major players such as Dharmacon (RNAi), Cellomics (high-content screening), Pierce (sample prep/purification), and Hyclone (cell culture).
 
The agreement is also characteristic of the current drug discovery and life science resource marketspace, which has undergone a significant metamorphosis in recent years with dominant players completing major acquisitions. Invitrogen, for example, recently expanded its molecular labeling portfolio with the acquisitions of Quantum Dots and BioPixels (see page 1). Similarly, Caliper Life Sciences recently strengthened its position in the assay market with the September 2005 acquisition of NovaScreen.
 
At the same time, Foster is quick to distinguish Fisher Biosciences from the larger corporation from which it arose and wants to translate that distinction in the minds of current and potential customers.
"Fisher Biosciences, which is a peer group to Fisher Scientific International, is focused on the drug discovery market, which is quite distinct from selling gloves and pipettes to researchers around the world," says Foster. "We are really looking to show the world a whole different company than they are used to."

Randall C Willis

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