Novocell Names John West Chief Executive Officer

/Novocell Names John West Chief Executive Officer

San Diego, CA (May 11, 2009) – Novocell, Inc., a stem cell engineering company, today announced the appointment of John West as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of its Board of Directors. West, former CEO of Solexa, Inc. (NASDAQ:SLXA), brings more than 27 years of experience building profitable businesses from transformational technologies in the life sciences industry.

“John brings extensive practical experience building large, market-leading profitable businesses from state-of-the-art scientific advances,” said Fred Middleton, Chairman of Novocell. “We are pleased to have him join Novocell at such a pivotal time, and know he will be instrumental in transitioning the company from a leading innovator in stem cell research to a product-focused, clinical development company.”

Mr. West served as Chief Executive Officer of Solexa from 2004 until the company’s acquisition in 2007. When Mr. West joined Solexa, it was a private venture backed company with a radically different biochemistry and molecular biology for DNA sequencing. During Mr. West’s tenure, the company became public through a reverse merger, raised almost $100M and launched its first commercial product. This product lowered DNA sequencing costs over 100-fold, achieved almost $100M revenue in its first full year and became the dominant system for genome-scale genetic research. Mr. West led sale of the company in 2007 to Illumina, Inc (ILMN) for over $600M, and the business market cap subsequently exceeded $1B.

Prior to Solexa, Mr. West served as VP of DNA Platforms, approximately a $1B business, at Applied Biosystems (ABI) (now Life Technologies). Mr. West’s responsibilities included the company’s businesses in DNA sequencing, preparative and real-time PCR, DNA synthesis and arrays. Prior to joining ABI, Mr. West was President of Princeton Instruments, a private company with transformational technology for low light imaging and spectroscopy. During Mr. West’s tenure, the company grew over 10 times in revenue, with much of the growth leveraging advances in cell biology. The company was sold to Roper Industries (NYSE:ROP), where Mr. West continued as subsidiary President. Mr. West holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in engineering from MIT, and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

“Novocell addresses one of the largest commercial and medical opportunities in stem-cell-derived therapeutics, and its team is increasingly recognized for its scientific and IP leadership,” said Mr. West. “I look forward to working with Novocell through clinical development and market launch and to growing a major new business.”

About Novocell

Novocell, Inc. is a stem cell engineering company with product development operations in San Diego, California and Athens, Georgia. Its core expertise is in efficient differentiation and encapsulation of human stem cells for therapeutic applications in diabetes. Its technology is expected to provide major advantages in patient treatment efficacy, safety, and manufacturing costs. These cells also provide a significant advantage for cell-based compound screening in drug discovery. The Company was founded in 1999 and merged with CyThera, Inc. and BresaGen, Inc. in 2004.

Novocell was the first to demonstrate that implantation of hES-derived pancreatic cells into mice results in the generation of glucose-responsive insulin producing cells. Such cells exhibit properties characteristic of functional human adult pancreatic insulin producing cells and provide protection in an animal model of diabetes characterized by loss of pancreatic insulin producing cells. See our landmark publications in Nature Biotechnology: D’Amour et al. (2005), D’Amour et al. (2006) and Kroon et al. (2008).

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Novocell at BIO International Convention

Novocell will be presenting in special sessions at the BIO International Convention, May 18-21 in Atlanta, GA.

  • Emmanuel Baetge, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, will speak on a panel from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., May 19, “Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Revisited – Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?”
  • Allan Robins, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, will speak during a session from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., May 19, “Challenges in Stem Cell Manufacturing.”