Photo of Gen-Probe Incorporated

Gen-Probe Incorporated

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Medicine

For the development and commercialization of new blood- testing technologies and systems for the direct detection of viral infections, including direct identification of West Nile Virus and simultaneous identification of HIV-1 and Hepatitis C virus in plasma of human blood and organ donors prior to transfusion.

Hank Nordhoff on Gen-Probe’s beginning

Those who knew, David Kohne, one of the founders of Gen-Probe Inc., remember him an exacting scientist, a man who valued and demanded precision. Finding out what the problem was, and then fixing it as quickly as possible, was always his focus, colleagues and friends recalled at the time of his death in 2015.

Founded in 1983 in San Diego, Calif., Gen-Probe was a diagnostics company that developed instruments and tests to more quickly detect diseases ranging from HIV-1 to hepatitis to West Nile Virus. The biotechnology company, which became a world leader in infectious disease testing and blood screening, also developed a test to determine if men with prostate cancer required biopsies.

The company was the first to use nucleic acid testing in tests that shortened the time it took to diagnose diseases. That process, based largely on Kohne’s DNA and RNA research, allowed for treatment to begin much faster, which improved its effectiveness.

Along the way, the company became one of the largest biotech startups in southern California, with some 1,400 employees. In 2012, Gen-Probe was acquired by Hologic of Bedford, Mass., in a $3.7 billion deal.

By Bob Warren