CRISPR Therapeutics starts search for a bioinformatics chief

CRISPR Therapeutics has joined the hunt for bioinformatics talent. Fresh from a $64 million VC round, the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing startup is advertising for a head of bioinformatics, putting it in competition with multiple other biotechs that are trying to bolster their ranks of computational biologists.

Bill Lundberg

The Switzerland-originated biotech gave notice of its ambitions in April by poaching Alexion ($ALXN) vet Bill Lundberg to lead its nascent R&D shop in Cambridge, MA. Lundberg is now looking for people to fill a handful of positions as he embarks on a hiring spree that will swell the company's R&D headcount toward 50 by the end of 2016. A head of bioinformatics with a relevant Ph.D. and more than 5 years of experience is on CRISPR Therapeutics' current wish list, requirements that put it up against some heavy hitters in the job market.

A slew of companies, from Big Pharmas such as Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Novartis ($NVS) to deep-pocketed startups like Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO), are seeking candidates with similar skill sets. Tech-focused life science players including Illumina ($ILMN) and J. Craig Venter's Human Longevity are also hiring. And Roche's ($RHHBY) Genentech is still advertising for a replacement for the 23andMe-bound Robert Gentleman, although its requirement of 15 years of experience means it is pitching its search higher than the aforementioned companies.

Each business recognizes that the success of its R&D operation is now tied to bioinformatics. At CRISPR Therapeutics, the person who gets the role will need to build public and private third-party pools of next-generation sequencing data into the R&D programs, while also overseeing the gathering, storage and analysis of results from its in-house activities. CRISPR Therapeutics wants the new hire to use a mix of open-source and third-party tools, as well as proprietary algorithms, to manage these tasks.

- here's the advert