Azenta Life Sciences’ introduction into the drug discovery sector 

Brooks Life Sciences Services and Products businesses has been rebranded under a new identity – Azenta Life Sciences. Azenta will bring together Brooks’ existing portfolio of life sciences products and services to deliver integrated sample exploration and management solutions. DDW’s Megan Thomas caught up with Linda De Jesus, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Azenta Life Sciences, about the work Azenta is doing, the future of the company and opportunities in the sector.  

De Jesus joined the company at the beginning of 2021 as the Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, reporting directly to the CEO. Her role includes integrating Azenta’s portfolio to help life science researchers drive innovation and discovery. She said: “While the Azenta company brand was only recently launched, we have been in the life sciences industry since 2010. We have grown both organically and through strategic acquisitions over the past decade, and have formed a strong life science business. By integrating under one brand, we are able to leverage our total portfolio of products and services to better serve our customers in the acceleration of their efforts to advance therapeutic treatments”. De Jesus will also be responsible for working across organisational functions to ensure the company has the right structure and processes to deliver a superior customer experience. “Under the Azenta brand, we will enhance support to our customers with our expertise in sample management, automated storage and genomic services. This combination of capabilities uniquely positions Azenta to assist our customers from the research stage through to clinical trials, and manufacturing,” she said. 

When asked about the company’s position in the drug discovery sector, De Jesus highlighted that: “The Brooks Life Sciences brand portfolio – now Azenta – is recognised for automated sample management with biological and chemical samples, biospecimen sample management, and genomic services. Our genomic services, formerly GENEWIZ, span across the drug development cycle in areas of next generation sequencing, gene synthesis and gene editing.”  

Another area in which Azenta has expertise is automated storage. “This is the legacy of Brooks Automation, with deep expertise in engineering and differentiated sample management software capabilities,” De Jesus explained. The automation and advanced LIMS/informatics capabilities have helped scientists streamline, digitise and deliver full visibility into their sample, material and specimen collections. She continued: “The ability for drug developers to access and view the history of any single sample with the press of a button, revolutionises the speed at which answers can be found. The Azenta automated storage systems and software truly help scientists manage their precious collections at a scale almost impossible without automation.” 

“New advanced therapies including cellular therapies, also have rigorous cold chain requirements for final product, intermediate products and critical reagents. Azenta’s automated cryogenic storage systems replace manual systems and support 21-CFR-11 compliance reporting, even at the coldest -190 cryogenic temperatures. The risk mitigation features built into the equipment protect mission critical materials and provide peace of mind for scaling programs,” De Jesus said.  

When it comes to the management of research and clinical specimens, Azenta handles storage durations ranging from short- to long-term. However, she said that it “really gets interesting” when the company connects this capability together with others in its portfolio: “One example is with our genomic capabilities. Most of our staff are PhDs in molecular biology with an in-depth knowledge of NGS, Sanger sequencing or DNA synthesis. This gives us the unique ability to develop customised and proprietary genomics services that most academia, biopharma and pharmaceutical companies turn to for their most complex gene sequencing, synthesis or gene editing needs.” 

Discussing where the company sees itself in the next five years, she said: “Life science companies are under high pressure to accelerate their development cycle due to strong demand in advanced therapeutics including precision medicine and companion diagnostics. There’s a significant industry demand for a trusted partner with expertise in both the science and technology, as well as the regulatory understanding of how to handle samples and related services. As one unified company, Azenta Life Sciences’ unique combination of capabilities enables customers to link their research more quickly to clinical outcomes. We have the broadest value stream across the specimen life span – from procurement and sourcing niche samples that are not available through the normal clinical trial pathways, all the way through the genomic services and analytics that add value to the samples. Additionally, Azenta’s truly differentiating capability in automated cryogenics uniquely supports automation and digitisation within the cryogenic storage space. These really play into an end-to-end manufacturing solution in the advanced therapies space.” 

In addition to retaining its existing services, Azenta is also expanding its expertise to support customers within the three development phases of research & development, pre-clinical and clinical, and manufacturing & distribution. De Jesus elaborates: “For existing customers, this provides confidence in our ability to continue delivering what they know and expect. For prospective customers, we’ll showcase all our expansive and integrated capabilities. Under our new brand – we’ll be able to better address customer needs and empower their work.” 

De Jesus emphasised: “There are many life sciences companies and vendors that support the therapeutic development workflow from upstream to downstream. What is compelling about Azenta is that we came from Brooks Automation, which is a well-known and respected engineering, automation and robotics company. We have developed sophisticated, customised automated storage solutions from small molecule and compound management libraries all the way to biobanking and biospecimen storage. I know there are unique features in every company, but most of these companies are usually focusing on one area within the workflow. In our case, we’re able to go across the entire spectrum of drug development with the broadest sample management platforms and services. So, when it comes to customers in the drug discovery world, Azenta has a long history of being a trusted partner that truly understands everything around the specimen samples: adding value, analysing and giving you the best, relevant data.”   

De Jesus concludes with: “The new brand today is articulating to the life sciences space, the continuation of the well-known sectors that we’ve been serving and expanding to provide an entire integrated portfolio and capability into a single brand for an enhanced customer experience.” 

Biography

Ms Linda De Jesus is the Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Azenta Life Sciences. Prior to joining the company on January 4, 2021, De Jesus worked for Thermo Fisher Scientific for over 8 years in various executive roles, including Vice President and General Manager of Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry Division and Vice President of Global Commercial Operations, with annual sales revenue of $2.6 billion. Prior to Thermo Fisher Scientific, she worked for Agilent Technologies and Waters Corporation in various senior management roles. De Jesus holds an Executive MBA from the University of Connecticut and an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Columbia University.

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