Venter nabs AstraZeneca's R&D IT chief for Human Longevity

Having outlined the ambitious plans for his latest venture in March, J. Craig Venter has begun to flesh out the team and capabilities Human Longevity will need to fulfill his vision. Adding IT skills and tools is a big part of the process, with Human Longevity nabbing an executive from AstraZeneca ($AZN) to develop its databases and inking a deal with CorTechs Labs for image analysis.

Yaron Turpaz--Courtesy of Human Longevity

Yaron Turpaz has left his position as VP of R&D IT at AstraZeneca to join Human Longevity. As chief information officer at Venter's company, Turpaz is tasked with establishing and growing its genomic and phenotypic database business, leading bioinformatics and software engineering initiatives, and building a computing facility in Singapore. Human Longevity will also give Turpaz the resources to expand the informatics program at its existing facility in California.

Turpaz got the job on the back of his work to incorporate Big Data analytics and informatics into R&D at AstraZeneca, where he headed up a 300-person team and a $120 million annual budget. Before joining AstraZeneca in 2011, Turpaz led bioinformatics, data analysis and software development work at Eli Lilly's ($LLY) drug discovery center in Singapore. Human Longevity has also hired Dr. Brad Perkins as chief medical officer and Felix Frueh as chief scientific officer.

The new hires were unveiled on the same day California-based CorTechs Labs revealed it is providing imaging data to the database Human Longevity is building. Human Longevity will integrate evaluations of magnetic resonance imaging data with other sources of information as part of its efforts to better understand aging.

"The image analysis tools CorTechs has developed and brought to market are ideal to translate imaging data into quantifiable phenotypes that can scale to a project of this size," Venter said in a statement.

- read about the new hires
- here's the CorTechs release