Back in 2000, my company, Gene Logic, had begun to develop a database of human surgical tissue samples analyzed with Affymetrix expression microarrays. We sold these data to major pharmaceutical companies that used it to identify and prioritize new drug targets. At that time, the excitement around genomics was in full swing. We were very enthusiastic about how this knowledge of disease could be used for new pharmaceutical and diagnostics applications.

One of the seemingly wilder ideas was using the data to identify new "unanticipated uses" for drugs that were already marketed. After all, the vast majority of our data was from tissue from surgery patients on some form of medication. For example, we had cardiovascular tissue from patients on anti-depressants and neural tissue from patients on medications that lowered cholesterol. We wondered what this deep knowledge of molecular pathways and the effects of drugs might yield. After our first...

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