According to DiCesare, "We are aggressive adopters of technology and we plan to leverage cluster and domain technology to meet critical high-availability needs." This explains the more than 100 Sun and Compaq servers, connecting 1,500 Macintoshes and PCs. Continues DiCesare, "Our databases have both OLTP and OLAP requirements. Indeed, access to Millennium's multi-terabytes of data is just a few keystrokes away. What makes this environment so challenging is that on any given day, scientists may discover that yesterday's unimportant gene plays a critical role in a disease process. All this data must be online and easily accessible." IT is also working to facilitate communication within the company by implementing web-based collaboration tools and streaming audio and video.

Languages used include both object-oriented and Internet development languages from Java, to Perl, C++, Smalltalk, SQL, and JavaScript. All network communications equipment is standardized on Cisco. Millennium is a member of the Customer Advisory Board for the Veritas-Oracle-Sun (VOS) initiative. Much of the software developed in-house is based on CORBA standards and the company is represented on the OMG board. Millennium is investigating wireless and Internet business strategies to their growing Internet strategy. They recently signed a partnership agreement with Caliper Technologies to develop lab-on-a-chip technologies, the first in genomics.

top of page | MILLENNIUM overview | Corporate Profiles index


Millennium is headquartered with six sites in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is at the center of a triangle bounded by Harvard University, MIT, and Boston University. The company has also expanded globally, with recent office openings in Japan and Israel, and a merger with CDC of Cambridge, England. The office environment is a mix of private and shared offices and private cubicles. The company spells out its core values: hire the best, create an environment where people can excel, search for breakthrough products, listen and learn, integrity with all, create focused teams, act ethically, and nothing is impossible.

The company offers employees a choice of HMO or point-of-service medical plans, dental, life, and accident insurance. The company matches a portion of employee contributions to a 401(k) plan. Employees are eligible for a discounted stock purchase plan and all employees have stock options. Vacations start at three weeks a year; there are 10 company holidays. Tuition is reimbursed. There is financial assistance for parking and transportation. Coffee, tea, and hot cocoa are free.

Social activities include weekly gatherings where employees enjoy food and drink, exchange ideas, and get to know each other. The company emphasizes working hard, having fun, and taking risks. John Sanchez, Human Resources Manager, says, "We have a dedicated Fun Team that organizes social events, such as afternoon teas and evening parties." Other events include Halloween parties, summer outings, and occasional company-wide scavenger hunts. The company sponsors teams or clubs for recreational activities, such as softball. "The IT department has both a foosball and a ping pong table," says Sanchez. Other events have included name-the-t-shirt-theme parties, ski trips, a paint ball outing, and a winter holiday party with "Lisa Lisa" and "Kool and the Gang" to entertain.

Standard dress is very casual, including shorts and t-shirts. Official hours are from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Travel is optional for many positions.

top of page | MILLENNIUM overview | Corporate Profiles index


Millenium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. was founded in 1993 by venture capitalist Mark Levin. He had taken it upon himself to start companies in bio-technology for his employer, Mayfield Fund, when he thought there was a business opportunity. With Millennium, Levin stayed on as Chief Executive Officer. Positioning the company to work on the entire drug discovery and development process, he has developed a pipeline of products, a stable of partnerships, and a portfolio of patents. Millennium's innovative drug discovery platform is applied across the entire healthcare sector, from gene identification through patient management. The company is focused on revolutionizing the process to tackle the most critical issue facing the pharmaceutical industry today, productivity.

Millennium licenses its technology platform to pharmaceutical companies, but in an approach that differentiates it from competitors like Incyte Pharmaceuticals and Human Genome Sciences, has developed a method for screening target genes for their reaction to drugs. Finding genes that respond to drugs, then determining which diseases they are related to, shortens the time it takes to develop a drug and yields a higher probability that the drug developed for that specific gene-disease combination will be successful. Mark Levin says on the company's web site "We believe that nothing is impossible," but the company's strategy is designed to increase the odds that the impossible will be accomplished in our lifetimes.

top of page | MILLENNIUM overview | Corporate Profiles index


Technical staff members are divided between those that work in applications development and other information technology infrastructure projects (more than 40 employees) and those that work on computation-intensive Informatics projects (more than 80 employees). IT staff members may work in the Technical Services, Systems Engineering, Business Information Technology, or Technical Planning departments. Those in Informatics may work in Informatics Management, Technology Management, Information Science, Process Technology, Informatics Applications, Informatics Infrastructure, or Technology Transfer departments. The IT technical career path leads from Systems Technician through Principal Engineer/Architect. There are dual management and technical tracks.

Millennium hired 25 technical professionals in the last year. In general, two to three of their new hires are entry-level. The company expects to hire 30 technical staff members in the next year. They have five percent turnover. Top college recruiting spots are Harvard, MIT, and the University of California at Berkeley. New candidates are generally found through employee referrals (36 percent), the Internet (18 percent), employment agencies (18 percent), advertising (11 percent), college recruiting (7 percent), unsolicited resumes (5 percent), and other means (5 percent).

In the IT department, staff members generally have a Bachelor's degree and five to ten years of experience. On the Informatics side, staff members, on average, hold advanced Computer Science, Biology, or Chemistry degrees. Demonstrated technical skills are required as the price of entry, but a cultural fit with the organization is also important. The company is addressing complex business and science problems, and, says DiCesare, "this requires great technical skills, great communication skills, and the ability to prioritize many highly visible projects." Entry-level candidates should have a genuine interest in the biotechnology industry. DeCesare explains, "We are working to improve the quality of life for people worldwide. That gets you out of bed in the morning."

top of page | MILLENNIUM overview | Corporate Profiles index


Job Title





Lead Software Engineer MS/Phd CS, Medicinal Chemistry   Software analysis, design, implementation, process and productivity improvements in medicinal chemistry Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bioinformaticsw Computer Scientist MS Biology, Biochemistry, Math, CS, Statistics   Perl, Java, biological database, microarray analysis Cambridge, Massachusetts
Sr. Software Engineer MA/MS Software Engineering 3 years Oracle, UNIX, Apache, mod_perl, Mason Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bioinformatics Scientist - Protein Annotation PhD Biological Science, training in programming   Computational biology, Perl scripting Cambridge, Massachusetts
top of page | MILLENNIUM overview | Corporate Profiles index


  • Business Week, "A Pharma Star is Born?" September 25, 2000
  • Fortune, "Blessings from the Book of Life," March 6, 2000
  • Fortune, "Hatching a DNA Giant," May 24, 1999
  • Red Herring, "Millennium Pharmaceuticals Exploits the Big Opportunity in Genomics," April, 2000
top of page | MILLENNIUM overview | Corporate Profiles index