SAN FRANCISCO, February 26—Paul Laland, head of the biotechnology practice at GCI Group, is leaving the firm to become vice president of corporate communications at Deltagen, a functional genomics company and a client of GCI.

Laland’s departure is just the latest in a series of high-level defections from GCI dating back more than 12 months. Among those who have abandoned GCI since the beginning of 2000 are corporate practice leader Jim Cox and consumer practice leader Carla Stanmyre; Los Angeles general manager Bob Chew, New York GM Aaron Kwittken and Atlanta leader Bill Marks; and in the San Francisco office longtime GM Greg Spector and his immediate successor Sam Singer.

Laland’s departure appears unrelated to any of the other moves, however. He stressed that family considerations played a major part in his decision to accept the Deltagen job, and said that he was parting from GCI on amicable terms and that GCI would continue to serve as Deltagen’s agency. 

The move also reunited Laland with Deltagen CEO Bill Matthews; the two previously worked together at Genentech.

The $3 million biotech practice at GCI will be headed by senior vice presidents Rick Roose and Nina Ferrari, who will have responsibility for the public relations and investor relations ends of the practice respectively.

NEW YORK—GCI Group has hired David Thompson as vice president of its New York consumer technology practice. Thompson was previously director, brand communications for Philips Electronics North America, where he was responsible for Philips’ sponsorship of the LPGA, its promotion of the Austin Powers movies and it sponsorship of the NASCAR Winston Cup team.