Boston Children’s Hospital helps launch firm that will develop tests for pediatric diseases

SAN FRANCISCO—Boston Children’s Hospital, the nation’s largest pediatric research medical center, disclosed Tuesday that it has struck a partnership with a California diagnostics equipment maker to form a company that will develop tests for pediatric diseases and interpret the results for doctors around the world.

The new company, Claritas Genomics, will be based in Waltham, where Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital quietly opened a genetics diagnostic lab two years ago. Boston Children’s Hospital will own a majority stake, while a minority will be owned by its partner, Life Technologies Corp. of Carlsbad, Calif.

Life Technologies executives are scheduled to officially unveil the new venture Tuesday afternoon at the 31st annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference here, which has drawn more than 8,000 investors and executives.

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“Our goal in this venture is to continue to be a world leader in caring for children,” Boston Children’s Hospital president Sandra Fenwick said in an interview. “This will be a tool to help in the treatment of rare diseases. We will be offering both the testing and the medical interpretation to physicians ordering tests.”

The venture, similar to those being formed by other academic medical centers in California and Texas, comes at a time where it is increasingly difficult for nonprofit hospitals to raise money in the bond market to expand operations and they have begun to turn to private funding sources.

Partners Healthcare Systems Inc., the Boston-based parent of Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals, has formed an alliance with Illumina Inc., a San Diego genetic analysis company, to install Partners-designed software, called GeneInsight, in an Illumina gene sequencing hardware system being marketed to clinical research laboratories around the United States and abroad.

Speaking at the J.P. Morgan conference Monday, Partners chief executives Gary Gottlieb said investors can expect other similiar moves by the health care system to commercialize its technology.