Knome taps Pfizer vet as new CEO

With plans to up its game in the biopharma and healthcare arenas, genome interpretation provider Knome has hired veteran biotech executive Martin Tolar as its new chief executive, the company announced today. Prior CEO Jorge Conde has been named chief strategy officer and reports to the new chief executive, Tolar said in an interview with FierceBiotech IT last Friday.

Tolar, a 47-year-old neuroscientist by training, comes to Cambridge, MA-based Knome after a stint as CEO of Boston-area drug developer NormOxys, and his past experience in the biopharma game includes posts at the biotech CoMentis and drug giant Pfizer ($PFE). His background fits with plans at Knome--which uses software and informatics to analyze genomic sequencing data to find the genetic basis disease--to increase the use of its tech in the biopharma sector, where its tools could be used, for instance, in clinical testing of experimental meds to predict drug response in patients.

Knome, which started out in 2007 providing DNA sequencing for the ultra-rich, evolved its strategy as technological advances caused the cost of decoding genomes to plummet, and the vast majority of its revenue now comes from customers in academia. Tolar said that the biopharma and healthcare sectors offer larger revenue streams for Knome's services than academia. With the price of whole-genome sequencing now approaching the cost of diagnostic tests, using the technology in healthcare isn't so hard to imagine. And Tolar wants clinicians to use Knome's tools to help them make decisions about patient treatment.

The company hasn't given up on providing its services to individual consumers. Jonas Lee, one of Knome's founding directors, has been named chief marketing officer and head of the company's consumer genomics business.

Sundar Subramaniam, Knome's chairman, said in a statement that Tolar "has the ideal skills and experience we need to accelerate our growth and extend our leadership in interpretation and application of genomic data and solutions across a wide range of markets."