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CEGs, Solexa and Lynx, and Pfizer s DTC


One year ago this month, Genome Technology looked at the Centers of Excellence in Genomic Sciences program funded by NHGRI and NIMH. We profiled nine CEGS institutes with a common mission to pursue compelling, innovative, and, by some accounts, risky research lines in integrative genomics. In the year since our report, the CEGS PIs have continued to attract funding. Earlier this year, Deirdre Meldrum of the University of Washington snagged an NIH award to develop technology for genomic analysis; Andrew Feinberg at Johns Hopkins University received another injection of funds for his Center for the Epigenetics of Common Human Disease; while Columbia University’s Jingyue Ju is pursuing an integrated system for sequencing by synthesis with a new NHGRI $1,000 genome grant.

In other news last year, Solexa and Lynx announced a tentative agreement to merge. The companies officially joined forces in March. Since then, Solexa laid off 17 percent of its staff, raised nearly $33 million, and announced plans to launch its first sequencing instrument by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Lynx founder Sydney Brenner kicked off a new venture — this one a company called Population Genetics Technologies, based on technology capable of gathering sequencing information from thousands of genomes simultaneously.

Five years ago, we sat down with Alan Proctor to talk about his vision for Pfizer’s then-new Discovery Technology Center, an interdisciplinary shangri-la designed to integrate informatics, engineering, chemistry, biology, and genomics. After conceiving and curating the novel research division, Proctor headed off for another position within Pfizer; Rod MacKenzie, who stepped in to take his place, later did the same. Philip Vickers is the current VP of the outfit, which is now known as the Research Technology Center. This summer, the lab announced plans to hire 50 more staffers, bringing the workforce there to 175 people.

In other news that issue, GT informed you that Randy Scott had resigned from his post at Incyte; it wasn’t long afterward that he cofounded Genomic Health, a startup geared to developing personalized cancer treatments. Scott is still the CEO of that company, which has advanced far enough that he’s started hitting the conference circuit — showing up last year at the Marco Island conference. We also reported five years ago on the Lion IPO, which at the time was by volume the biggest biotech IPO in Europe that year. Times have changed; leader Friedrich von Bohlen no longer runs the company, and after years of struggling with a business model, Lion has reached the end of its tether and announced plans to sell its bioinformatics business by the end of this summer.

Coming Up - Next Month in GT Don’t miss these features in the November/December issue: Genome grants by the numbers In our year-end special issue, we’ll look at grants awarded during the past 12 months and break down the data to show where the money’s going. This report will reveal which technology categories are best funded, who’s getting the most money, and indicate future trends of which fields are picking up steam and which seem to be dropping off. As a bonus, we’ll include words of wisdom from scientists who have been successful in winning grants to help you write better proposals. RNAi patents With the rapidly shifting intellectual property landscape in the RNAi field, what do you need to know to make sure your research is on the right side of the law? We’ll look at the patents that have been most in dispute, and talk to experts about this litigious arena.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.