Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gold Touch: Scientist's Firm Helping Big Gene Project

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gold Touch: Scientist's Firm Helping Big Gene Project

Article excerpt

The last time the Post-Dispatch visited Paul Gold, he was basking in the luxury of having doubled the size of his company.

He had added a lab assistant to what had been a one-man company in downtown Maplewood, housed in a second-floor office above a dress shop and an exterminator.

Three years later, life and business have changed dramatically for Gold.

He still owns Gold BioTechnology Inc., which distributes chemicals for scientific research, but he also is co-owner of another medical research firm, Genome Systems Inc.

He supervises 20 employees at an office in Overland, whose spacious 12,600 square feet provides room to grow for his booming new business.

But most importantly, Gold has become involved in the most ambitious medical research project in history.

He is playing a unique role in the Human Genome Project, a collaboration of universities, private companies and the federal government to unlock the secrets of life.

Scientists, including those at Washington University, are preparing maps of genes, the building blocks of heredity.

By determining which genes cause disease, scientists can build a foundation for developing diagnostic tests, treatments and cures for many diseases.

Genome Systems Inc., is assisting in that research, acting as a reference laboratory for genetic researchers. Genome Systems sells them copies of genes.

"We can do a small piece of the puzzle efficiently," Gold said. "It's cheaper than if everybody was doing the same thing for themselves."

Gold didn't set out to become a gene merchant.

Three years after he earned a doctorate in microbiology from the St. Louis University School of Medicine, he created Gold BioTechnology in 1986.

He wanted to create a research and development firm, but first he had to pay the bills. So he began distributing chemicals and other products to medical researchers while he formulated his R&D plans.

In late 1991, he got a call from David Smoller, who had been doing postgraduate work at Washington University on the Human Genome Project.

Smoller inquired about one of Gold's chemicals, and their conversation turned to the difficulties that researchers had in getting gene fragments for their research.

Small biotechnology companies don't have the space or money to stock an entire library. …

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