Affymetrix CEO, Frank Witney, on Arrays in the Age of Sequencing

Frank Witney, CEO, Affymetrix


Listen (4:20) The comeback

Listen (4:31) What is the future of arrays?

Listen (3:44) Will other diagnostic companies switch to arrays?

Listen (2:14) How much research, how much clinical?

Listen (5:23) What new technologies are you excited about?

Listen (1:16) Thoughts on Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative?

Go about anywhere in the life science industry, and you’ll run into someone who once worked at Affymetrix. Since the founding of Affymetrix and the development of what’s come to be known simply as the Affy chip, the company’s history has been intertwined with that of biotech and the genomics revolution. But what has become of the company today?

In the present heyday of DNA sequencing, some have predicted the death of Affy’s chip or microarray, a platform celebrated in it’s time for the ability to see thousands of genes in one assay. But a recent deal with the prenatal diagnostics company, Ariosa, signals that the array is anything but dead.

Today we talk with Affymetrix CEO, Frank Witney, who has engineered a certain comeback for the company. In the Fall of 2013, Affy's stock hit a low point of $3.01 per share. They had just purchased eBioscience for their flow cytometry technology in an effort to diversify. But Affymetrix was dangerously low on cash. Since then, though, the stock price has quadrupled and quarterly earnings are consistently beating analysts' expectations.

What happened? What is the future of arrays? Will they actually come behind sequencing and be the main workhorse for translating genomics into the clinic?