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Collins, Venter, Brenner to Headline UCSD Symposium; Mathias Woker Named VP at Graffinity; Alynam Gets another Millennium Exec; and Others

NEW YORK, Nov. 12 (GenomeWeb News) – Francis Collins, Craig Venter, and Sydney Brenner are among the headliners speaking at a symposium on the 50th anniversary of the description of the DNA structure and its impact on medicine, which is to be held Nov. 14 and 15 at the University of California, San Diego’s Price Center Theater.

Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, and Venter, president of the Center for the Advancement of Genomics and former president of Celera, will join Sir David Weatherall, a noted molecular genetics researcher, Oxford University emeritus professor, and Fogarty scholar-in-residence at the NIH, as well as Margaret Liu, a pioneer of plasmid DNA-based vaccines; Janet Rowley, a Lasker Prize recipient and cancer researcher from the University of Chicago; Stuart Orkin of Harvard Medical School, who specializes in stem cell research; Nobelists Michael Bishop from the University of California, San Francisco, Brenner, and Renato Dulbecco of the Salk Institute, in speaking at the symposium. UCSD School of Medicine’s Gene Therapy Program and the journal Science are co-sponsoring the event.

Mathias Woker has been appointed vice president of business development USA at Graffinity Pharmaceuticals, the Heidelberg, Germany-based company said today.

Woker, who will work from Boston, will oversee the company’s US business development operations, which are to include collaborations involving its chemical drug-fragment microarray technology and medicinal chemistry capabilities in drug discovery, according to the company. Helmut Kessman, Graffinity’s chief business officer, will focus on business development in Europe and Asia, as well as strategic growth.

Woker was most recently vice president of business development at Spherics, of Lincoln, Rhode Island. Before that, he was a biotech consultant in Munich, chief business officer at Ingenium Pharmaceuticals in Munich, and previously, manager of business development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

John Rossi, the dean of the City of Hope Graduate School of Biological Sciences and an inventor on several patents for RNA-related technologies, has been named to the board of directors of CytoGenix, the company said Nov. 11.

Rossi, whose research has focused on metabolism and processing or RNA inside the cell, and in particular, ribozymes, has been at City of Hope since 1980, when he joined as an assistant research scientist in molecular genetics, and became chairman of the division of biology in 1992, then dean in 1998.

Cytogenix, of Houston, develops drugs and markets services using its DNA expression technology.

Barry Greene has been appointed Chief Operating Officer of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, the company said Nov. 10.

Currently, Greene is a senior scholar at the Fuqua Health Sector Management program at Duke University, but most recently, he was responsible for oncology business strategy at Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Several other Alnylam executives, including John Maraganore, the CEO, and Vincent Miles, senior vice president of business development, came to the RNA interference therapeutics company from Millennium.

Before joining Millennium in February 2001, Greene was executive vice president and chief business officer of Mediconsult.com, and prior to that, vice president of marketing and customer services at AstraZeneca, and a partner at Andersen Consulting in pharmaceutical/biotechnology marketing and sales practice.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.