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Biodefense Dollars, the First Salary Survey, Windber, and Mapping Disease


Back in 2003, Genome Technology had separate July and August issues. The July cover story looked into how researchers in genomics and proteomics could stand to benefit from increased biodefense funding. The 2004 projected biodefense budget of the US National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease was $1.63 billion, the Department of Homeland Security had requested $803 million for biodefense, and other agencies — including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Centers for Disease Control as a whole — had also thrown their weight into biodefense funding. Since then, President Bush signed the Project BioShield Act of 2004 into law. This act gives the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to streamline the procedures to review research proposals and award biodefense grants. The project has a projected budget of up to $3.4 billion.

In August 2003, GT featured its first-ever salary survey. Back then, 4 percent of the 1,521 respondents had been laid off in the past year, and 46 percent of their employers had layoffs. This year, happily, both those numbers are down. A little more than 2 percent of respondents report being laid off in the past year, and just under 32 percent say their employer has given out pink slips. (This year's complete salary survey can be found on page 33.)

Last year, GT looked at the Windber Research Institute in Johnstown, Pa. At that time, Windber was just beginning to expand into the commercial sector with its for-profit spinout, Strategic Medicine, which then collaborated with Biobase, a life sciences database company. Strategic Medicine recently announced the results of that collaboration to identify biomarkers in breast cancer patients. They reported that they uncovered a molecule that might explain why breast cancer patients have different test results for Her2 when tested by FISH compared to IHC.

That issue also focused on using 'omics tools to study infectious diseases, profiling Dan Janies, among others. Janies, an assistant professor at Ohio State University, has been working on tracking the H5N1 avian flu using a Google Earth-like map. Last October, Janies testified to the US Senate Homeland Security Committee on surveying diseases overseas with his "supermap." (For more on infectious diseases, check out this issue's news article on St. Louis encephalitis, found on page 17.)

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.