The Business of Science : The First Decade of Strand


Vijay Chandru Strand Life Sciences 5th Floor, Kirloskar Business Park Bellary Road Hebbal Bangalore 5600


Wednesday, 16 March 2011 (All day)


As a doctoral student in decision sciences, I wandered into a classroom at MIT where S.E. Luria was teaching an introductory biology class to engineers. I sat in the back and caught the last few minutes of the class. It was fascinating enough that I remembered the next time I was in the Harvard/MIT Coop and picked up a copy of his 36 Lectures in Biology and browsed in it from time to time. This was in 1970s and I didn't seriously consider working in the life sciences till the mid-90s when students in biophysics at IISc showed up in my computational geometry class wanting to learn about algorithms for Voronoi diagrams and Delaunay tessellations to be able to study the geometry of macromolecules.

One thing led to another and four of us professors from the CSA department at IISc set up Strand Genomics in November 2000. It was heralded and jeered as a watershed event - the first time that professors at a public university in India had promoted a company with the university taking an equity stake.

Strand has survived its first decade and is still far from being a blockbuster biotech company but today has about 150 employees (70 computer scientists and 55 life scientists), is sustainable and has at least one global, market leading product in GeneSpring. I will describe the Strand journey so far while emphasizing the joys of pursuing a truly inter disciplinary scientific agenda, building a collegial company, and learning what it takes to create a science driven innovation.