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Illumina's $96M Buys RTP's Advanced Liquid Logic

Advanced Liquid Logic (ALL), a groundbreaking Research Triangle Park company built from Duke University research with North Carolina Biotechnology Center support, has been purchased for "up to $96 million" by San Diego gene-testing powerhouse Illumina.

The sale is the culmination of a bioscience success story with origins in the lab of Duke scientist Richard Fair, Ph.D.

NCBiotech awarded Fair a $50,000 Collaborative Funding Grant in 2003. He used the money to hire Vamsee Pamula, Ph.D., as a postdoc to work in Fair's lab with Michael Pollack, Ph.D. Pollack had been working since 1998 on developing and commercializing a tiny “lab” on a microchip, using a process known as microfluidics.

The following year, Pamula and Pollack formed ALL to advance the groundbreaking platform technology for analyzing complex genetic data, precisely manipulating small droplets within a sealed disposable cartridge.

Pamula says the early NCBiotech grant not only helped keep the research program alive, but it also led to millions of dollars in subsequent funding -- from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and, more recently, a term loan and revolving credit from Durham’s Square 1 Bank.

NCBiotech awarded the company more than $468,000 in loans from 2005 to 2009 that helped it gain global attention in the field of microfluidics. ALL now holds hundreds of patents, and has launched its first gene-testing products into the research marketplace.  It also raised millions of dollars in private funding prior to Illumina’s purchase.

ALL now employs 80 North Carolinians, including Peter Ross, Ph.D., who started a two-year stint as part of the Biotech Center’s Industrial Fellowship Program.

With today’s buyout by Illumina, ALL becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of the California parent.

Though neither company disclosed terms of the sale in the news release announcing the deal, Christian Henry, senior vice president and general manager of Illumina’s Genomic Solutions business, responded to the NCBiotech request for more information .

“As stated during Illumina’s Q2’13 earnings call, we completed the purchase of Advanced Liquid Logic (ALL) for up to $96 million," he said in an email. "We have not publicly disclosed additional terms of the acquisition or specific integration plans, but we’re currently working with ALL’s management team to successfully integrate ALL operationally and culturally into Illumina’s Genomic Solutions business.” 

In the news release, he said, “ALL brings an impressive … portfolio in digital microfluidics and a talented team with a track record of innovation.”

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