BiotechProfiles - History of Top Biotechnology Companies in Madison

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Madison Wisconsin is recognized as one of the premier emerging biotechnology clusters in the United States. This portion of the BiotechProfiles™ website provides a comprehensive overview of this dynamic industry, its current companies and its rich history. If you’re looking for career opportunities, this site should be central to your search.

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Biotechnology Companies in Madison; Biotechnology Jobs in Madison
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BiotechProfiles is the premier site for data on Madison Biotechnology Companies; Madison Biotechnology Jobs; Madison High Technology Companies, Madison High Technology Jobs, Madison Medical Device Companies; Madison Pharmaceutical Companies; Madison Diagnostic Companies; Madison Research Products Companies; Madison Life Science Companies; Madison Life Science Jobs; and Madison Ag Biotech Companies

Biotechnology and High Technology Companies in Madison Wisconsin;
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Madison Biotechnology Companies; Madison High Technology Companies

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Legacy Companies
The Madison life science and medical device industry has developed an impressive legacy of success. Many of the companies who pioneered the growth and success of this sector are still very active today, and are profiled individually in the BiotechProfiles database. However, the names of other pioneering firms may no longer be recognizable due to sale, merger, or other exit event. This honor roll memorializes the history and outcomes of many of these firms.

Agracetus Inc.

  • Agracetus was originally founded as Cetus Madison Inc. in 1981, a subsidiary of Cetus Corporation, to develop transgenic plants.
  • In 1984, WR Grace & Co. purchased a half interest and the joint venture was rebranded as Agracetus.
  • In 1990, WR Grace purchased Cetus Corp's half interest in 1990 to become sole owner. Programs in DNA vaccines and gene therapy were added.
  • Owner WR Grace & Co. sold all transgenic plant related assets to Monsanto in 1996 for $150 million. [See Monsanto Profile]
  • DNA vaccine portfolio was operated as Auragen Inc. for <1 year, and then merged with PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc, based in the UK. The local unit was renamed PowderJect Vaccines Inc. (Note: PowderJect's name at time of merger was Oxford BioSciences) [See PowderJect Vaccines history in this table]

Agrigenetics Corporation

  • Agrigenetics Corporation was founded in 1980 in Boulder Colorado via the spinout of the biotech businesses of Union Carbide, and through acquisitions quickly became one of the largest seed companies in the US. The company established its "Agrigenetics Advanced Research Division" on Buckeye Road on Madison's east side. Focused on plant genetic engineering, the site eventually peaked at around 100 employees.
  • In 1985, Lubrizol Corp purchased Agrigenetics and in 1992 sold the company to Mycogen Corp.
  • In 1996, Mycogen consolidated its research into other sites and closed the Madison research site.

Anaquest, Inc.

  • In 1978, BOC Group acquired Ohio Medical Products. Two years later, BOC Healthcare restructured into four divisions. Ohio Medical Products was placed in one division and Anaquest was spun out of Ohio Medical into a separate division. Both Anaquest, a maker of inhalation anesthetics, and Ohio Medical remained headquartered in Madison.
  • Anaquest headquarters was relocated to New Jersey in 1990.
  • Anaquest was sold to Baxter in 1993.

Bone Care International

  • Bone Care's Vitamin D lead product, Hectorol hormone therapy, was developed internally by Lunar Corp from 1984.
  • In 1996, Bone Care International was spun off from Lunar as an independent company to further develop and commercialize Hectorol and pursue additional products
  • Completed its IPO in January 1998
  • Acquired by Genzyme Corporation for $600 million in 2005. Most operations other than sales were consolidated with the parent company, reducing the local unit's size from 140 to ~40 employees. [See Genzyme Profile]

Cardinal Health NeuroCare Group

  • See Nicolet Biomedical Inc. for full operating unit history - Cardinal Health clinical and medical products companies, including the NeuroCare Group, were spun out in 2009 as a standalone company named CareFusion Corporation.

CareFusion Corporation

  • CareFusion sold its Nicolet NeuroCare division to Natus Medical in 2012. See Nicolet Biomedical for complete history.


  • Cellectar was founded in 2002 by Dr. Jamie Wiechert to pursue radiopharmaceuticals for cancer.
  • In April 2011, Cellectar merged with publicly traded Novelos Therapeutics Inc.. Cellectar shareholders received 85% of the combined company. Cellectar's 3 cancer programs will be the focus of the merged entity. The company's headquarters is Madison, with a secondary office in Boston.

Cetus Madison Inc.

  • Founded in 1981 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cetus Corp.
  • Cetus Madison was renamed Agracetus in 1984 when WR Grace & Co. purchased a half interest from Cetus Corp. [See Monsanto Profile; also Agracetus history in this table]

DRG Medical Packaging Inc. / DRG Health Care

  • Founded as Fordem Company in 1957 by Jay Smith's father, a packaging company.
  • Fordem sold to DRG plc in 1982
  • DRG Health Care sold to Franklin Group, an investor group, in 1989; at the time, DRG Medical (worldwide) produced about one-third of the 75 billion packages sold yearly worldwide to hold sterile medical products such as gauze, gloves and syringes.
  • Sold to Bowater plc, a UK packaging company, in 1992 (CEO Jay L. Smith departed firm); Bowater changed its name to Roxam plc in 1995.
  • In 2003, Amcor purchased Roxam's healthcare flexible packaging business for Euro198 million. Today the Madison manufacturing plant at 4101 Lien Road operates as a unit of Amcor Flexibles Healthcare, a unit of Australia based Amcor Ltd.

Enzyme Bio-Systems Ltd.

  • Founded in 1985 to produce enzymes
  • EBS was acquired by Genencor International in 2002. (Genencor was subsequently acquired by Danisco in 2005) [See Danisco Profile]

EpiCentre Biotechnologies

  • EpiCentre was founded in 1987 by Drs. Gary Dahl and Jerry Jendrisak, and became a significant supplier of molecular biology reagents.
  • In January 2011, the company was acquired by Illumina Inc., a global life science research tools company based in San Diego. $59.4 million was paid up front, plus up to $29.7 million of milestones and other performance based compensation.

EraGen Biosciences Inc.

  • In June 2011, Luminex Corporation purchased EraGen for $34 million. Thereafter the unit operated as Luminex - Madison.

Gala Design Inc.

  • Founded in 1996 by Jane Homan as Gala Design Inc., Gala was acquired by Cardinal Health Inc. in a two step transaction in 2002 and 2003 totalling approximately $25 million. As a business unit of Cardinal, it has operated since as "Gala Biotech".
  • In 2007, Cardinal Health spun out its Pharmaceuticals and Technologies Services Group (of which Gala Biotech was a member) as a standalone privately held company named Catalent Pharma Solutions, owned by The Blackstone Private Equity Group. The Middleton operation discontinued use of the Gala name, becoming known as Catalent Pharma Solutions - Middleton [See Catalent Profile]

Genetic Assemblies Inc.

  • Founded in 2002 by Franco Cerrina PhD
  • Merged into Codon Devices, Inc. (Cambridge MA) in 2005

GenTrac, Inc.

  • GenTrac was founded in 1982 by Scott Paul, John Townley and Dr. J. Foster Irwin, as a spin out from Oscar Mayer Corp. The firm manufactured Thrombin, a bovine-extracted enzyme that is used to control bleeding during surgery.
  • GenTrac was acquired by Jones Medical Industries in 1991 for $6 million, which in turn was acquired by King Pharmaceuticals in 2000
  • GenTrac was rebranded in 2007 as King Pharma, it's parent company name.
  • King Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Pfizer Inc. in February 2011. The local operations were rebranded as Pfizer Global Supply. [See Pfizer]

Imago Scientific Instruments Corp.

  • In 1998, Dr. Thomas F. Kelly, then a UW-Madison professor, founded the company.
  • AMETEK Inc. acquired Imago in April 2010 for $6 million. The company continues to operate as part of CAMECA Instruments, part of AMETEK's Materials Analysis Division.

Invitrogen Corporation

  • Invitrogen Corporation and Applied Biosystems Inc merged in 2008 to create Life Technologies. Following the merger the Invitrogen name continued to be used as a commercial brand. [See Life Technologies profile]

Lunar Corporation

  • Founded in 1973 by Richard Mazess PhD, to commercialize devices that measure bone density.
  • Completed its IPO in 1990
  • Spun out Bone Care International as an independent company in 1996
  • Lunar was acquired by GE Healthcare in 2000 for $142 million and operated as GE Healthcare - Lunar (aka GE Healthcare - Bone Density Division) until 2009. In 2009, GE consolidated its two Madison sites. Manufacturing was moved to Milwaukee, and ~100 employees were relocated to its east side location.

Marschall Products

  • Founded in 1906 by Robert Marschall as Marschall Dairy Laboratory
  • Marschall was purchased by Miles Inc. in 1966 (which in turn was owned by Bayer AG)
  • In 1989 Marschall was purchased from Miles by Rhone-Poulenc S.A.
  • Local operations became a unit of Danisco in 2004 when Danisco acquired Marschall's parent [See Danisco Profile]

Mattson Instruments, Inc.

  • Mattson was founded in 1983 by David Mattson
  • Acquired by Boston based Orion Research Inc. in 1989; Orion later became a unit of Analytical Technology Inc.
  • Thermo Electron purchased Analytical Technology in 1995 and merged Mattson's 100 person Madison operation into its Nicolet Instrument division.

Mirus Bio Corporation

  • Founded in 1995 by Jon Wolff, Jim Hagstrom and Vladimir Budker
  • In 2008 Roche purchased the company for $125 million, continuing work on therapeutics products under the name Roche Madison, Inc. The research products division was spun out to new shareholders, and operates as Mirus Bio LLC. [See Mirus Bio LLC Profile]

Nerites Corporation

  • Nerites was founded in 2004 by Thomas J. Mozer PhD to develop surgical bioadhesives. The technology was based on research of Dr. Phil Messersmith at Northwestern.
  • In January 2011, the company's assets were acquired by Kensey Nash Corporation for $20 million, a publicly traded regenerative medicine company based in Pennsylvania. [See Kensey Nash Profile]

Nicolet Biomedical Inc.

  • Nicolet Biomedical was established as a divison of Nicolet Instrument in 1965
  • Became a unit of Thermo Electron in 1992 (along with parent Nicolet Instrument Corp)
  • Thermo spun out Nicolet Biomedical and other medical units in 2000 into Viasys Healthcare; operations were a part of Viasys NeuroCare
  • Viasys Healthcare was acquired by Cardinal Health in 2007.
  • In 2009, Cardinal Health spun out its clinical and medical products companies, including the NeuroCare Group, into a new company named CareFusion Corporation. [See CareFusion Profile]
  • In 2012, CareFusion sold its Nicolet NeuroCare division to Natus Medical Incorporated for $58 million. [See Natus Medical profile]

Nicolet Instrument Corp.

  • Founded in 1965 as a division of Fabri-Tek Inc. of Minneapolis, it was spun off in 1967 as Fabri-Tek Instruments Inc. and re-named Nicolet Instrument Corp. in 1971
  • In 1980 the company established Nicolet Biomedical as subsidiary to focus on neurological markets
  • Completed IPO in the 1980s.
  • Thermo Electron purchased Nicolet Instrument Corp. in 1992; operating thereafter as Thermo Nicolet
  • Acquired Noran Instruments in 1994
  • Acquired Mattson Instruments and related companies in 1995
  • In 2003 Thermo sold Nicolet Instrument Technologies to SPX, which renamed the business LDS Test & Measurement LLC
  • In 2006, Thermo Electron Corp purchased Fisher Scientific International Inc. to form Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. [See Thermo Fisher Scientific - Nicolet Profile]

NimbleGen Systems, Inc.

  • Founded in 1999 by Franco Cerrina, Fred Blattner and Michael Sussman
  • Acquired by Roche Diagnostics in 2007 for $272 million [See Roche NimbleGen Profile]

Noran Instrument

  • See Tracor Northern

Novagen Inc.

  • Founded in 1989 by Robert Mierendorf, as a subsidiary of Pel-Freeze Inc.
  • Acquired from Pel-Freeze by Merck KgaA in 1998 and operates as part of its EMD US division. [See EMD Profile]

Ohmeda / Ohio Medical

  • 1904: Scanlan Morris Co. is founded by S. Gwyn Scanlan and Tom Morris as manufacturer of hospital equipment, with plant on Williamson Street.
  • 1913: Moves to East Johnson Street, eventually expands to seven buildings.
  • 1944: Purchased by Ohio Chemical and manufacturing, a division of Air Reduction (AIRCO), New York.
  • 1946: Ohio Chemical moves headquarters to Madison, 1400 E. Washington Ave.
  • 1967: Name is changed to Ohio Medical Products.
  • 1970: Moves to location near Interstate 90 and Femrite Road, now known as 3030 Ohmeda Drive.
  • 1978: AIRCO is purchased by British Oxygen (BOC Group).
  • 1984: Ohio Medical changes its name to Ohmeda.
  • 1985: Ohmeda announces plans to move its U.S. headquarters from Madison to New Jersey.
  • 1998: Purchased by Instrumentarium Corp., Finland, merged with Instrumentarium's Datex-Engstrom division and renamed Datex-Ohmeda
  • 2003: Acquired by GE Healthcare and now operates as GE Healthcare - Life Support Solutions [See GE Healthcare - Life Support Solutions Profile]

PanVera Corporation

  • Founded in 1992 by Ralph Kauten, Terry Sivesind and Tom Burke to make research reagents
  • PanVera was sold to Aurora Biosciences Corp in November 2000 / March 2001 for a reported $85 million. When Aurora was acquired by Vertex, Vertex sold the Madison operations (PanVera) to Invitrogen Corp. in 2003 for $105 million, and has operated as a wholly owned business unit since then. In November 2008, Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems Inc. merged to create Life Techologies. [See Life Technologies Profile]

PowderJect Vaccines Inc.

  • PowderJect Vaccines was created in 1996 when the UK-based PowderJect Pharmaceuticals acquired Agracetus' DNA vaccine business (at the time legally known as Auragen Inc.) from WR Grace & Co.
  • PJV was purchased by Chiron Corporation in 2003 as part of Chiron's purchase of PowderJect Pharmaceutials plc for $878 million. At the time, PowderJect had become the 6th largest vaccine company worldwide.
  • Chiron spun out "gene gun" or particle mediated DNA vaccine portfolio to PowderMed Pharmaceuticals plc in the UK and closed the Madison WI discovery research site in 2004.
  • PowderMed was acquired by Pfizer Inc. in 2006 for ~$400 million.

Radiation Measurements Inc.

  • Acquired by Gammex in 1987. Merged company named Gammex/RMI.

Roche Madison Inc.

  • Roche Madison Inc. was created in September 2008 when Roche acquired the RNAi (gene silencing) therapeutic division of Mirus Bio Corporation for $125 million.
  • In October 2011, Roche sold Roche Madison Inc. to Arrowhead Research Corporation as well as other RNAi intellectual property assets it controlled. The local company was renamed Arrowhead Madison. [see Arrowhead Madison profile].

Tetrionics, Inc.

  • Founded in 1989 by Hector DeLuca and Peter Johnson to manufacture small molecule pharmaceuticals
  • Acquired by Sigma Aldrich in 2004 for $85 million [See SAFC Profile]

Third Wave Technologies Inc.

  • Founded in 1993 by Lance Fors PhD, Lloyd Smith PhD and Jim Dahlberg PhD to commercialize a new gene amplification technology known as Invader, a technology that competed directly with Polymerase Chain Reaction.
  • Completed IPO in July 2000
  • Purchased by Hologic Inc. in 2008 for $580 million [See Hologic - Third Wave Technologies Profile]

TomoTherapy Inc.

  • Thomas (Rock) Mackie PhD and Paul Reckwardt founded TomoTherapy in 1997 to develop its Hi-Art targeted radiotherapy system.
  • TomoTherapy successfully raised $223 million in its IPO in May 2007, implying a market cap of >$800 million.
  • In 2011, TomoTherapy was acquired by Accuray Inc. for $277 million in cash and stock. Accuray was a radiosurgery company based in California.

Tracor Northern

  • Founded as Northern Scientific in the early 1960s by William F. Buffo and Robert Schumann (who also founded Nicolet).
  • In 1966, the company was sold to Tracor Inc., adopting the name Tracor Northern
  • In mid-1980s, Tracor Inc. was purchased by Westmark Inc.
  • In 1990, Tracor Northern changed its name to Noran Instruments when Westmark Inc. sold its instrument division to Baker Hughes Inc.
  • In 1994, Noran's 200 person Madison operation was acquired by Thermo Electron's Thermo Instrument Systems (fka Nicolet Instrument Corp.).

UltraVisual Medical Systems

  • UltraVisual was founded in March 2000 by Mark Gehring, Praveen Sinha and Roger Chylla. UltraVisual developed a Web-enabled software system for handling, distributing and storing medical images such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs.
  • In June 2003, UltraVisual merged with Alabama based Emageon Inc. to create a company ranked in the top five in its field. UltraVisual's 35 employees remained in Madison.

Viasys NeuroCare Group

  • See Nicolet Biomedical for full operating unit history - Viasys Healthcare was created in 2001 when Thermo Electron spun out its biomedical businesses (including the NeuroCare group) as a separate company. In 2007, Cardinal Health acquired Viasys Healthcare.