Addendum I: Molecular Devices Corporation
In 1983, I founded Molecular Devices Corporation, along with three former Stanford postdocs and a talented engineer, Calvin Chow. The three postdocs were Gillian Humphries, J, Wallace Parce and Dean Hafeman. Sometime later a fourth former postdoc, Jack Owicki, joined the company.
The original project was to develop a lipid coated silicon biosensor for biochemical and cellular assays for the clinical laboratory and drug discovery. Two commercial products were initially produced. Threshold (for measuring contaminant DNA in therapeutic products) and the “cytosensor” microphysiometer. The latter proved to be an interesting research tool for measuring cellular response to cellular agonists, but the instrument was not a great commercial success and was later abandoned in favor of microplate based assays. The microplate based assays were developed to a high degree of sophistication and were used extensively for high throughput screening for pharmaceutical agents.
I served on the Board of Directors of the company between 1983 and 2007, when the company was sold to a Canadian firm, MDS, Inc. At the time the company was sold there were over 1,000 employees. Dr. Joe Keegan, a PhD of Carl Djerassi, was CEO of Molecular Devices during the last and most productive years of Molecular Devices. Gillian Humphries remained with the company throughout the 1983-2007 period and was a major contributor in terms of both science and product development.