CONTACT: GEORGE MCCRORY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024
CONTACT: DOUG FARRELL
Senior Director, Investor Relations &
Aurora Biosciences Corporation
11010 Torreyana Road
San Diega, Calif., 92121
FAX: (858) 404-6714
Release: Oct. 20, 2000
TIC Tenant 'Quorum Sciences' To Be Acquired By Aurora Biosciences
CORALVILLE, Iowa UI Technology Innovation Center
(TIC) tenant Quorum Sciences Inc. will be acquired by Aurora Biosciences Corporation
of San Diego, Calif., enabling Quorum to further expand its business and research
prospects while remaining in Iowa.
The merger announced today with the San Diego-based Aurora
will allow Quorum to allocate more resources for additional scientific and
managerial staff and expansion on the UI's Oakdale Research Park (see announcement
Quorum, a biotech "spin-off" at the TIC, was established
in April 1998 based on research in the laboratory of E. Peter Greenberg, Ph.D.,
Virgil L. and Evalyn Shepperd, endowed professor of molecular pathogenesis
and professor of microbiology in the UI College of Medicine.
"We believe that Aurora is the best choice for us," said
Greenberg, who is also chief scientific officer of Quorum Sciences. In evaluating
the merger decision, Greenberg was impressed with Aurora's world-class drug-screening
technology. "This technology is so respected that they license it to many
of the biggest drug companies. Quorum will now have access to that technology
to use in conjunction with our biofilm
and bacterial signaling research. I am really excited
about the potential of this merger."
After the merger, Greenberg will remain as a UI professor.
"To keep a small biotech company like Quorum functioning, I was asked to wear
many hats, not just that of a scientist. I feel that this merger with Aurora
will provide Quorum Sciences with technology and infrastructure. I am best
suited to be a college professor, and this will allow technology development
without putting other demands on me," he added.
Greenberg pointed out that "Aurora intends to leave the
Quorum operation here in Iowa for the foreseeable future. This will mean new
jobs and technology for Iowa. In fact, we are already looking to hire scientists
and it is likely we will also hire managers and continue to expand."
The company was built on the research discoveries in Greenberg's
lab and in the labs of collaborators around the country. The plan is to ultimately
turn those discoveries into commercial products. In particular, Quorum Sciences
has been using knowledge of bacterial cell signaling pathways as a basis for
the development of a new class of antibacterial therapeutics and industrial
Recently, Greenberg has been working to develop novel
anti-microbial compounds to treat infections caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas
aeruginosa which cause lung damage in patients with cystic fibrosis and cause
serious infections in other susceptible people.
Greenberg received a B.A. degree from Western Washington
University, an M.S. from the UI, and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts.
He joined the UI faculty in 1988. He co-founded Quorum with Stephen Turner
of Gaithersburg, M.D., a long-time biotechnology entrepreneur.
The merger also means new growth at the Oakdale Research
Park, according to Bruce Wheaton, executive director of the Oakdale Research
Park and the UI Research Foundation. "We are delighted at the prospect of
growth at Oakdale as a result of Aurora Biosciences' acquisition of Quorum
Sciences. We will do our utmost to encourage that expansion," he said.
Quorum Sciences has licensed intellectual property from
the University of Iowa Research Foundation, Rochester University, Ithaca College
and Montana State University.
Quorum currently occupies laboratories and office space
in the UI Multi-Tenant Facility at the Oakdale Research Park under a lease
agreement with the TIC made possible by the UI College of Medicine.
Since it was founded in 1984, the TIC has accepted approximately
55 new technology-based business ventures. There are presently 13 incubator
tenants, while 16 companies have successfully met their business objectives
and "graduated" from TIC. A dozen other companies remain in business after