The World Survey of Genomics Research is intended to estimate spending in both the public and private sectors. It is a project of the Stanford-in-Washington Program funded by a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. The survey focuses on health-related genomics; agricultural and other areas of genomics are not included. Results were reported to the Global Forum for Health Research in September 2000, as input to the Forum's systematic international survey of health research expenditures presented at the Fourth International Conference on Health Research for Development in Bangkok, Thailand, October 2000. Robert Cook-Deegan, Carmie Chan, and Amber Johnson assembled the lists of contacts, carried out the survey and gathered information about genomics firms from publicly available sources..
Government and nonprofit organization contacts were mainly assembled by networks of known genome research administrators and scientists through email and telephone, starting from public information and genome websites (such as the DOE program's portal site, Human Genome News, the Los Alamos list of most used genome websites, and the National Human Genome Research Institute), and building on a similar survey of genomics research done for a book, The Gene Wars during 1990 and 1991.
Finding company contacts in the two categories--genomics firms (both privately held and publicly traded) and established pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms--required a more systematic approach, because sources of information on private genomics are generally incomplete. We began with dedicated genomics firms, both publicly traded and privately held. Initial contacts started with a December 1993 survey of genomics start-up firms done for the Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress. Our list then built on three principal sources, two web-based biotechnology services--BioSpace.com and Recombinant Capital--and a BioWorld Report: 2000 Genomics Review, which covered firms roughly through early 2000 . The BioWorld list included all firms that had been surveyed for OTA in 1993 (except Mercator, which went out of business after being purchased by Progenitor, before Progenitor closed in turn, in late 1998).
Most firms, however, did not appear on any lists of genomics firms, but were instead identified by reading the trade press during 2000 and 2001. To assemble our list, we visited the websites for each company (except the few lacking websites), and made phone calls to clarify points of uncertainty to update the information on each company. We augmented our list by looking for news about genomics firms in BioSpace.comís daily "Breaking News" service, BioCentury, Genomics Today (a news service of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association), and by reading scientific and trade journals (Science and Nature were the two most helpful, but we also found some contacts through Drug Discovery, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Genetics, Genetic Engineering News, Red Herring, and other publications and web news services). We also assembled information from the companyís own websites (the main source of contact data) as well as contact information and company profiles at BioSpace.com, Recombinant Capital, and GenomeWeb. Finally, the Genome Tri-Conference, organized by Cambridge Healthtech Institute, was an excellent source of information about new companies.
Companies on our list of established pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms have genomics research collaborations with dedicated genomics firms (above), academic groups, or otherwise have substantial investment in genomics research, as known from industry contacts. Two of us read through all the reported agreements in the BioWorld report; our list of established pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms started with those that had four or more such agreements. We added firms to the list if we found additional genomics agreements, through reading biotechnology, business, and genomics online news services, trade journals and newsletters, in scientific journals or reported in the public media, on company websites, or listed by Recombinant Capital under "Alliances."
The survey process entailed mailing surveys to contacts on the lists found on this website, and to new contacts as they were discovered.. The first wave of surveys was sent on June 1, 2000. Additional forms were sent to contacts as they have come to our attention. Mailed surveys were followed up by email and phone follow-up for surveys not returned. The survey form was deliberately designed to be as simple as possible, asking the minimum number of questions to get the annual research funding figures and related information. Email and phone follow-up often focused only on getting R&D expenditures for 1998, 1999, and 2000, without further details. In some cases, data about government and nonprofit funders was obtained by third parties (e.g., U.S. Department of Energy figures came from the White House, Japanese figures from David Cyranoski of Nature, Chinese figures from Huanming Yang, Russian Figures from Andrei Mirzabekov, certain European genome program figures from Emanuel Hallen of the European Commission).
U.S. Patent data for each firm and organization are derived from patents assigned to the firms (or firms owned by those firms) noted in the DNA Patent Database. At the time when figures for this website were obtained, the DNA Patent Database contained US Patents from 1980 through 1999. It is a subgroup of US patents selected by a search strategy devised by Jim Martinell of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to assist the OTA study of 1993, and it has been updated each year since. Stephen McCormack and Robert Cook-Deegan read all the patents 1980-1993, and filtered out patents not actually making claims about DNA (or RNA) structure or methods. Patents since 1994 were added annually through 1999, with the April 2000 update serving as the benchmark for use in our data tables. In June 2001, the DNA Patent Database added patents through January 16, 2001, and during 2001 it will be further augmented to capture some patents dating as early as 1970 that were missed in earlier versions of the database, taking advantage of new search software at the US Patent and Trademark Office, and ongoing research into reasons the database was missing certain DNA-based patents. The original Martinell search algorithm may be modified slightly, and if so, changes will be published and noted at the DNA Patent Database website. Web implementation of the database was done by Richard Burgess of OptiPat, in collaboration with the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University and the Foundation for Genetic Medicine. The database originated in a project commissioned by OTA through the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature at Georgetown.
We counted DNA-based patents 1980-1999 by searching the DNA Patent Database for patents assigned to each firm. This included firm name changes (e.g., Collaborative Research Laboratories became Genome Therapeutics Corp) or firms acquired by other firms (e.g., Genetics Institute acquired by American Home Products). Some of the pharmaceutical firm listings are especially complex, because of mergers and acquisitions (some searches took as many as 9 separate steps). The "comments" column beside the results for each firm explain inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Capitalization estimates and total research spending use the last trading day of each year, and from websites, press releases by the firms, annual reports, or 10K filings (or their foreign equivalent) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (for publicly traded companies). For Year 2000 estimates, stock prices on August 29 were used for the September 25 report to WHO and the Global Forum for Health Research. Amber Johnson updated the figures in June 2001, covering high, low and December 29, 2000 stock prices (and market valuations).
Based on our very limited survey data (only 15 firms returned data on their genomics fraction of R&D), firms appear to be bimodally clustered into two groups--roughly half of which are primarily or solely genomics (so 75% or more of their R&D is genomics) and half of which report genomics as less than a quarter of their R&D (estimates fell in the 10 to 25% range). Because information is incomplete on many firms, our figures are floors for total R&D by these firms, but over-estimates of genomics R&D because we include all R&D reported for firms that devote only a fracation of the R&D to genomics (and there is no way to estimate the genomics fraction for the majority of firms because they did not return surveys or did not complete that cell on the survey form; and genomics R&D is not reported separately from total R&D).
Definition of genomics. The starting definition of "genomics" derives from Tom Roderick, as first cited in print by Victor and McKusick in the inaugural editorial for the new journal Genomics in 1987 (Genomics 1: 1-2, 1987). At that time, genomics distinguished large-scale mapping and sequencing efforts from molecular studies of one or a few genes. As Peter Goodfellow noted in 1997 (Genomics 45: 244-249, 1997), and Joshua Lederberg and Alexa McCrea reiterated in 2001 (The Scientist 15 [April 2]: 8, 2001), genomics has shifted in meaning to any studies that involve the analysis of DNA structure, and even to the study of how genes affect biological mechanism and phenotype. This includes the original meaning of genomics, but extends well beyond it.
In biotechnology, genomics came to refer to biotechnology firms that employed genetic techniques on a large scale in all or some part of their work. Under this definition, genomics has a meaning that is broader still, and it was adopted as a "buzz word" to attract private capital, particularly in a period from 1998 through mid-2001 (when many new frms began to emphasize their involvement in "proteomics" and "bioinformatics," categories that overlap with genomics). By 2001, the term was considerably broader in meaning, and had become almost purely arbitrary in some cases.
For purposes of listing firms and government and nonprofit genomics funding estimates, we accepted the definitions of those reporting the figures (including the trade press characterization of private firms). When reporting on companies and funding programs, we visited websites or read publicly available data sources. We excluded firms that did genomics on plants and agriculturally important animals that did not seem directly pertinent to human health, but included other organisms that serve as biological models (yeast, C. elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, zebra fish, etc.). We included microbial genomics when those studies were targeted at human pathogens or were intended to illuminate basic biological mechanisms (and might inform the study of human molecular biology). We also excluded companies solely or primarily focused on protein, rather than DNA structure, or those that identified themselves as primarily "proteomics" or some other "-omics" field other than genomics. These disctintions are not entirely consistent, details about the distinctions are rarely acknowledged, and the amount of information publicly available varies widely. Many company descriptions make it difficult to make judgments. The rule of thumb was to exclude firms unless they (or others writing about them) explicitly referred to "genomics," or when the nature of their business seemed similar to other firms already on the list.
The figures reported therefore rest on inconsistent definitions of genomics, and figures should be interpreted with this variability in mind.
Foreign currency conversions. Foreign currency data have been converted to $US using data tables (see p. 7) for Purchasing Power Parity (Office of Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris). For non-OECD countries, we used UNSTATS exchange rates for that year.
The survey data are available in Excel spreadsheets on the website.
1. Robert Mullan Cook-Deegan, The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome (New York: WW Norton, 1994; paperback 1996; tr. Japanese and Korean).
2. Robert Cook-Deegan, contract report "Survey of Genome Research Corporations" prepared for the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), US Congress, for its report on DNA patenting; survey December 1993; report March 1994. The contract report is available at the National Reference Center for Bioethics Literature, Georgetown Univesity. The draft OTA report that was never publicly released (because the US Congress defunded OTA in 1995) is also available.
3. 2000 Genomics Review: New Technologies for the New Millennium (Atlanta, GA: BioWorld Publishing Group, American Health Consultants, 3525 Piedmont Road, Building 6, Suite 400, Atlanta, GA 30305, USA; copyright 2000).