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BIND Funding Runs Out; Biz Model ‘Last Resort’


Chris Hogue, the principal investigator for Canada’s Blueprint Initiative, is mulling a commercial model for the Biomolecular Interaction Network Database in the face of a funding drought that has forced the project to cease curation activities.

On Nov. 16, Hogue posted a notice on the BIND website notifying users that Blueprint, a nonprofit research program housed at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, had “fully expended available core funding in both Canada and Singapore,” and would stop curating BIND.

In an attempt to save the project, Hogue is considering making the database available through a commercial entity — Unleashed Informatics, a company spun out of the Blueprint Initiative in April.

“This is the last resort, and we are trying to structure something so that Unleashed can continue to provide access to BIND in an open-access manner,” he says. “We have not finalized the terms yet, but that is probably what is going to happen.”

It’s still unclear whether — or how — Unleashed would be able to support continued curation for BIND, however. “There may have to be a substantial change to the approach we take to curation in order for it to fit the business model,” he says. “We have to see how much revenue it may actually generate, [and] see how much money people will pay for a hand-curated database.”

In May, the Blueprint Initiative learned that its funding from Genome Canada would not be renewed because the project failed to meet a requirement to secure matching funds; the same stumbling block ended a grant from Singapore’s economic development board.

In the meantime, Mt. Sinai has pledged to host Blueprint Initiative resources, including BIND and the SeqHound data warehouse, while Hogue explores alternative means to support the effort.

— Bernadette Toner

Microsoft unveiled the second beta release of its Windows Server operating system designed for clustered computing at the Supercomputing 2005 conference in November. The company says this tool will help it make a name in the discovery informatics arena.

Gene Network Sciences has teamed up with the Mary Crowley Medical Research Center to use biosimulation technology in cancer clinical trials. GNS will use its computational modeling technology to identify biomarkers associated with response in cancer clinical trials, and will be paid on a per-patient basis.

The World Wide Web Consortium launched the Semantic Web for Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group to focus on applying semantic Web technology to data-integration challenges in the healthcare and life science industries, marking the consortium’s first domain-centric initiative.

SRI International, a nonprofit R&D organization, opened a Center of Excellence in Computational Biology to conduct collaborative research in “symbolic systems biology, synthetic biology, and bioinformatics,” according to a statement.

IBM is working with the Scripps Research Institute on a project called [email protected] to find new AIDS therapies with the World Community Grid — an international community of 100,000 computer users who have donated cycle time on more then 170,000 PCs.


US Patent 6,965,831. Coupled two-way clustering analysis of data. Inventors: Eytan Domany, Gad Getz, Erel Levine. Assignee: Yeda Research and Development. Issued: November 15, 2005.

This patent covers a coupled two-way iterative clustering approach for data analysis to generate partitions from using subsets of genes or samples to cluster another subset. The approach is especially useful for microarray data.

US Patent 6,961,664. Methods of populating data structures for use in evolutionary simulations. Inventors: Sergey Selifonov, Willem Stemmer. Assignee: Maxygen. Issued: November 1, 2005.

This patent relates to methods of populating data structures for evolutionary modeling. It involves encoding two or more biological molecules into character strings to provide a collection of two or more different initial character strings; selecting at least two substrings from the pool of character strings; concatenating the substrings to form one or more product strings about the same length as one or more of the initial character strings; adding the product strings to a collection of strings; and optionally repeating this process using one or more of the product strings as an initial string in the collection of initial character strings, according to the abstract.

$90 million
Approximate revenue Tripos received from four-year file-enrichment collaboration with Pfizer that began in 2001. The companies announced that the alliance would not be renewed.


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