The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024
Senior Director, Investor Relations &
Corporate Communications
Aurora Biosciences Corporation
11010 Torreyana Road
San Diega, Calif., 92121
(858) 404-6767
FAX: (858) 404-6714

Release: Oct. 20, 2000

TIC Tenant 'Quorum Sciences' To Be Acquired By Aurora Biosciences

CORALVILLE, Iowa — UI Technology Innovation Center (TIC) tenant Quorum Sciences Inc. will be acquired by Aurora Biosciences Corporation of San Diego, Calif., enabling Quorum to further expand its business and research prospects while remaining in Iowa.

The merger announced today with the San Diego-based Aurora will allow Quorum to allocate more resources for additional scientific and managerial staff and expansion on the UI's Oakdale Research Park (see announcement at

Quorum, a biotech "spin-off" at the TIC, was established in April 1998 based on research in the laboratory of E. Peter Greenberg, Ph.D., Virgil L. and Evalyn Shepperd, endowed professor of molecular pathogenesis and professor of microbiology in the UI College of Medicine.

"We believe that Aurora is the best choice for us," said Greenberg, who is also chief scientific officer of Quorum Sciences. In evaluating the merger decision, Greenberg was impressed with Aurora's world-class drug-screening technology. "This technology is so respected that they license it to many of the biggest drug companies. Quorum will now have access to that technology to use in conjunction with our biofilm and bacterial signaling research. I am really excited about the potential of this merger."

After the merger, Greenberg will remain as a UI professor. "To keep a small biotech company like Quorum functioning, I was asked to wear many hats, not just that of a scientist. I feel that this merger with Aurora will provide Quorum Sciences with technology and infrastructure. I am best suited to be a college professor, and this will allow technology development without putting other demands on me," he added.

Greenberg pointed out that "Aurora intends to leave the Quorum operation here in Iowa for the foreseeable future. This will mean new jobs and technology for Iowa. In fact, we are already looking to hire scientists and it is likely we will also hire managers and continue to expand."

The company was built on the research discoveries in Greenberg's lab and in the labs of collaborators around the country. The plan is to ultimately turn those discoveries into commercial products. In particular, Quorum Sciences has been using knowledge of bacterial cell signaling pathways as a basis for the development of a new class of antibacterial therapeutics and industrial products.

Recently, Greenberg has been working to develop novel anti-microbial compounds to treat infections caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa which cause lung damage in patients with cystic fibrosis and cause serious infections in other susceptible people.

Greenberg received a B.A. degree from Western Washington University, an M.S. from the UI, and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. He joined the UI faculty in 1988. He co-founded Quorum with Stephen Turner of Gaithersburg, M.D., a long-time biotechnology entrepreneur.

The merger also means new growth at the Oakdale Research Park, according to Bruce Wheaton, executive director of the Oakdale Research Park and the UI Research Foundation. "We are delighted at the prospect of growth at Oakdale as a result of Aurora Biosciences' acquisition of Quorum Sciences. We will do our utmost to encourage that expansion," he said.

Quorum Sciences has licensed intellectual property from the University of Iowa Research Foundation, Rochester University, Ithaca College and Montana State University.

Quorum currently occupies laboratories and office space in the UI Multi-Tenant Facility at the Oakdale Research Park under a lease agreement with the TIC made possible by the UI College of Medicine.

Since it was founded in 1984, the TIC has accepted approximately 55 new technology-based business ventures. There are presently 13 incubator tenants, while 16 companies have successfully met their business objectives and "graduated" from TIC. A dozen other companies remain in business after leaving TIC.