Illumina Inc. is founded in San Diego by Larry Bock and John Stuepnagel, venture partners with the CW Group. The pair learns of a fluorescence-based DNA microarray technology developed by biochemist, materials scientist, and nanotechnologist David Walt of Tufts University. Walt’s system fixes oligonucleotide probes on beads (or ‘microspheres’) where hybridization with labeled DNA or RNA samples can be detected by a proprietary fiber-optic system. The system can perform and analyze parallel assays numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
Impressed with the commercial potential of the invention, Bock and Stuepnagel secure an exclusive license, and start a company to develop genome analysis products and services. To direct scientific research, they hire nucleic acids expert Mark Chee away from competitor Affymetrix, and Anthony Czarnick, a specialist in combinatorial chemistry, away from IRORI. Jay Flatley, a seasoned executive with more than ten years in the life science industry, is recruited from Molecular Dynamics, Inc. to direct the company as President and CEO.
Illumina designs instruments for sequencing, genotyping, and gene expression profiling. The company is one of the leading contenders (along with Affymetrix, Life Technologies, and Luminex) in a race to make automated, high-throughput assays in genomics, proteomics, and systems biology affordable for researchers and healthcare providers. The ultimate goal is to create tools that will enable doctors and patients to realize the promise of personalized medicine.
Source: Life Sciences Foundation