The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology announced that the HudsonAlpha Genomic Services Lab (GSL) has signed an agreement with Discovery Life Sciences to form a new division of that company, HudsonAlpha Discovery. The move will build on the success of the Institute in developing a top-of-the-line sequencing lab by adding the global reach of Discovery Life Sciences and its sales force. This expands the reach of the Institute and brings more high-quality biotech jobs to the thriving campus.
The HudsonAlpha Discovery division will be entirely on the HudsonAlpha campus and will continue providing its full line of services for the Institute’s research initiatives and external projects. Shawn Levy, Ph.D., director of the GSL, will continue in his role as a HudsonAlpha faculty investigator and will serve as Chief Scientific Officer, Genomics at Discovery Life Sciences.
“When I came to HudsonAlpha nine years ago and founded the GSL, I knew I was coming to an institution that was dedicated to innovation and creativity. There was no doubt that HudsonAlpha was going to make great strides in the field of genomics,” said Levy. “It is exciting to build on the success the GSL team has had over the last nine years and take a new step with HudsonAlpha Discovery to broaden our capabilities and reach globally.”
Through the creation of HudsonAlpha Discovery, Discovery Life Sciences will be expanding its presence at HudsonAlpha, becoming the largest resident associate company. Over the next three to five years, it is anticipated that HudsonAlpha Discovery will create up to an additional 100 new job opportunities, building on North Alabama’s reputation as a biotech hub of the Southeast.
The associate companies on HudsonAlpha’s biotech campus range from entrepreneur-led to globally recognized. “This announcement is the latest success in HudsonAlpha’s story”, said Carter Wells, vice president for economic development at HudsonAlpha. “It started with the talented entrepreneurs of Conversant Bio, added HudsonAlpha’s ecosystem for associate company growth, merged with four other businesses through a strategic investment creating Discovery Life Sciences, and now adds the unique capabilities and approach of the GSL. This expansion will allow for so many around the world to benefit from the power of genomics.”
In addition to the human health-related value provided by HudsonAlpha’s research scientists and the resident associate companies, the impact to the state’s economy is stunning. Now eclipsing $2 billion since inception, the economic impact of HudsonAlpha continues to demonstrate that the model created by founders Jim Hudson and Lonnie McMillian works.
“The State of Alabama has been a partner with HudsonAlpha since its very beginning,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “Discoveries through genomic research, educating our workforce, advancing genomic diagnostics and creating outstanding biotech companies are all part of the fabric of HudsonAlpha. As governor, I am proud to be a part of this latest success and cannot wait to see what the future holds for HudsonAlpha in Alabama.”
HudsonAlpha Discovery will combine with the current global biospecimen and analytic services of its parent company, Discovery Life Sciences, to provide the highest-quality clinically and scientifically annotated biospecimens, gene sequencing, bioinformatics and laboratory services to the global pharma, biotechnology and diagnostics industries.
“HudsonAlpha is such a collaborative campus and uniquely positioned for opportunities like this,” said Rick Myers, Ph.D., HudsonAlpha president and science director. “This is a great example of what happens when you have renowned researchers and entrepreneurs under one roof with a common goal of accelerating research to real-world applications.”
Established by Levy in 2009, the GSL rapidly grew to an innovative and internationally recognized genomics laboratory that has supported more than 4,700 projects and processed hundreds of thousands of samples for investigators around the world. Its projects have spanned basic, translational and clinical research areas and have contributed to the understanding of many complex disorders including various cancers, autism, ALS, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, diabetes and rare and undiagnosed diseases.
“An integral component of our success in genetic and genomic research is our enthusiasm for collaboration, both within the institute and with other scientists around the world,” said Greg Barsh, M.D., Ph.D., HudsonAlpha faculty chair and faculty investigator. “These efforts will be further enabled by the global relationships that Discovery Life Sciences brings to the table, expanding a network of potential collaborators that benefits our ability to make life-changing discoveries at HudsonAlpha.”
Since inception, HudsonAlpha is home to significant entrepreneurial and economic development success stories. Companies have launched and thrived, many with HudsonAlpha’s research at the core. HudsonAlpha Discovery is the 10th and largest transaction on the biotech campus.
“HudsonAlpha Discovery is a great reflection of what Lonnie and I envisioned for HudsonAlpha,” said Jim Hudson, HudsonAlpha co-founder. “We wanted to encourage collaboration by aligning researchers with companies that are developing drug discoveries, therapeutics, diagnostics and treatments. This is a natural next step in accomplishing that mission.”
In just over a decade, HudsonAlpha’s campus has grown to include 40 biotech companies. One of the earliest companies, formerly known as Conversant Bio, became a part of Discovery Life Sciences in 2018. What started as two people in an office has experienced exponential growth to become the largest global biospecimen procurement company to support research in oncology and other life-threatening diseases.
“The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a remarkable place. We embrace its vision of advancing science and education to improve health around the world,” said Discovery CEO Glenn Bilawsky. “We are so very proud that the Institute selected Discovery to be the stewards of the Genomic Services Laboratory going forward, and of their investment in the future of our company. The HudsonAlpha Discovery platform is one of the largest global installations of the newest Illumina® NovaSeq technology, which gives us the scale, speed and quality to tackle the size and complexity of any sequencing project.”