Faculty Startup sold to Belgian Pharma for $30 million

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Photo of Tim Reddy
Apr. 9, 2018

Element Genomics, a small biotech company founded by Biostat faculty Tim Reddy and Duke faculty Greg Crawford, Charlie Gersbach, and Kris Wood in 2015, has been acquired by UCB, a global pharmaceuticals company with a focus on neurology and immunology. 

The company was founded around a suite of technologies for understanding gene regulatory elements, including CRISPR gene editing. It hopes to explore genomic and epigenomic regulatory regions to identify new drug targets for common diseases. Powerful bioinformatics abilities underlie much of the research.  “We have long believed that there is enormous potential for studies of gene regulation to inform the causes and treatment of diseases. We are greatly looking forward to working closely with UCB to realize that potential"  said Tim Reddy.  

Element Genomics will continue to be based in leased NCBiolabs co-working space in the Chesterfield Building in downtown Durham. The firm currently employs eight Duke alumni and collaborates with academic labs run by Gersbach, Reddy, Crawford, and Wood on campus.“Element Genomics researchers have a stellar reputation and their scientific expertise in genomics and epigenomics will complement UCB’s,” said Dhavalkumar Patel, UCB’s Chief Scientific Officer. “This will allow us to deepen our understanding of disease mechanisms with the aim of developing targeted therapies. We look forward to working with the Element Genomics team and welcome them within UCB.”   John Oxaal, CEO of Element Genomics, who first began working with the faculty as a Duke entrepreneur-in-residence added “We at Element are thrilled that UCB shared our vision for treating disease through knowledge gained through functional genomics and the vast and largely unexplored biology of the epigenome.” 

Element had earlier received funding from Duke’s Coulter Foundation Translational Partnership Program, which provides $1 million annually in early-stage funding and management to faculty health care innovations with the goal of licensing and creating new life science start-up companies. “Duke’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and engagement with industry has paved the way towards research that can powerfully inform today’s drug development process,” Oxaal said.