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Craig Venter Takes Over TIGR; 454 Hires Away a Solexa VP; Helicos Taps CFO; Axxam Hires a 454 Alumnus; and Others

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Craig Venter became president and CEO of a newly expanded J. Craig Venter Institute after it absorbed the Institute for Genomic Research and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation.
Claire Fraser-Liggett will remain president of TIGR and Robert Strausberg, group leader of human genome medicine at the Venter Institute, will become president of the Center for the Advancement of Genomics, which was renamed from JCVI. TIGR and TCAG will be divisions of the Venter Institute.
Eric Eisenstadt and Marvin Frazier will remain vice presidents for research of TIGR and TCAG, respectively, while Yu-Hui Rogers will continue to direct the Joint Technology Center with support from a senior management team.

454 Life Sciences has hired Mary Schramke as vice president of marketing.
Schramke joins the CuraGen subsidiary from rival Solexa, where she most recently was vice president and general manager of its genomic services division.
She has a PhD in microbiology from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, and an MBA from John F. Kennedy University.

Helicos BioSciences has named longtime financial executive Louise Mawhinney as vice president and chief financial officer.
Mawhinney comes to Helicos from ArQule, where he was CFO.

Axxam has appointed Rose Lance to lead its business development efforts in North America. 
Lance comes to Axxam from 454 Life Sciences, where she conducted business development.
She has a BS in microbiology from Southern Illinois University.

Solexa’s board has elected the following directors to serve until the company's 2007 annual meeting: CEO John West, Stephen Allen; Blaine Bowman; Hermann Hauser; Mason Morfit; Roy Whitfield; and Joseph Whitters.

The National Human Genome Research Institute has appointed two branch chiefs in its Division of Intramural Research: Leslie Biesecker will head the Genetic Disease Research Branch and David Bodine will oversee the Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch.
The NHGRI said the appointments are part of its “ongoing effort to translate genomic discoveries into health benefits.”
In its statement, the NHGRI said Biesecker “aims to provide all scientists in the branch with the resources and tools to help them translate their discoveries into improved patient care.”
“The current group of investigators are well established and doing outstanding work,” Biesecker said. “We want to both encourage basic research and to translate the resulting findings in ways that will help patients in the clinic.”
Investigators in the Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch, meantime, employ molecular genetics and genomic approaches to identify and characterize genes involved in tissue development and function. They aim to understand how genetic defects lead to a range of human disorders, including anemia and leukemia, cancer, immune deficiency conditions, psoriasis and others.
They are also testing potential treatment approaches and technologies in cell lines and animal models, some of which have progressed to clinical trials. “My vision for the branch is to create and maintain a productive environment for our investigators, ensuring that they have the resources to maintain productive programs,” Bodine said in the statement. “A large part of our initiative is to provide an outstanding environment for training the next generation of genetics and genomics scientists.” 
Biesecker received a BS in 1979 from the University of California, Riverside, and an MD in 1983 from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He became an NIH investigator in 1993 and was appointed senior investigator at NHGRI in 2001.
Bodine received a BA in 1976 from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and a PhD in 1984 from The Jackson Laboratory. He became a senior investigator at NHGRI in 1994.

The National Center for Genome Resources has appointed Scott Wolff as director of software engineering. Wolff will manage NCGR’s software development teams and technical project portfolio, including web-based information resources, software applications for high throughput sequencing projects, web applications for population genetics and molecular diagnostics research, and semantic web technology projects.
Wolff most recently served as senior engineer and manager at Sun Microsystems, where he led work in several areas, including educational services, stochastic modeling of distributed systems, and the analysis of multivariate telemetry streams.

Affymetrix has appointed Masao Yoneyama as general manager of its Japanese operations
He comes to Affy from Daiichi Pure Chemicals, where he was the general manager of business development.
Yoneyama has a BS in chemistry and an MS and PhD in toxicology from Utah State University.

Charles Slacik will join Beckman Coulter as senior vice president and CFO, effective Oct. 23. He joins the firm from Watson Pharmaceuticals, where he currently serves as executive vice president and CFO. Previous to working at Watson, Slacik was senior vice president and CFO of medical device manufacturer CR Bard.

InforSense has hired David Hadfield, formerly senior vice president and general manager at Spotfire, as chief operating officer. Hadfield will also join InforSense's board of directors.
Hadfield has held senior executive roles in a number of other firms, including vice president of sales and marketing at Molecular Devices, vice president of marketing and business development at Oxford GlycoSciences, and several management positions at Applied Biosystems.

Caroline Kovac has joined Burrill & Company as managing director. Kovac joins after retiring from IBM, where she led the company’s global healthcare and life sciences business. At Burrill, she will develop investment strategies for “leading edge technologies that are contributing to the transformation of medicine and healthcare,” the company said. These include personalized medicine, the use of IT in healthcare, stem cell research, medical devices and diagnostics, and bionanotechnology. Kovac will also work as part of the Burrill International Group to build the company's life science focus on emerging economies, such as China, India, Malaysia, and the Middle East.
Kovac worked at IBM for more than 20 years, and held a number of executive management positions, including vice president at IBM Research, where she helped launch the Computational Biology Center and the Blue Gene supercomputer project.

Current BioData last week hired Ian Tarr as its new CEO; Rebecca Lawrence as director of editorial services; Stephanie Kappus as chief technology officer; Laura Thomson as business development director, and James Jacketti as senior vice president for sales and marketing.
Tarr most recently was executive vice president with Thomson Scientific, where he was responsible for the company products and services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical industries.
Lawrence was the publishing manager at Drug Discovery Today; Thomson has worked for the British Standards Institute and Thomson Corp; Kappus was with GeneBio and the European Bioinformatics Institute; and Jacketti managed US sales operations at Current Drugs.
Current BioData is a joint venture between Geneva Bioinformatics and the Science Navigation Group and is developing products and services to assess the impact of new protein research on drug R&D. The company expects its first products to launch early next year, it said in a statement.

Markus Wolfinger was appointed to the advisory board of CyBio, the company announced this week. Wolfinger is the CFO of Stratec Biomedical Systems. Dieter Matheis, who had been the board’s chairman, resigned Sept. 30 for personal reasons, the company said. He was replaced as chairman by Stephan Mahn.

Anadys Pharmaceuticals has named James Glover chief financial officer and senior vice president of operations, effective immediately.
Glover comes to Anadys from Beckman Coulter, where he was chief financial officer.

Benitec has recently appointed Paul McMahon as its CFO and corporate secretary.
He replaces Ray Iacono, who is stepping down as secretary.
McMahon is a CPA who has worked with AZN Banking Group, Strategic Industry Research Foundation, and the Shedden Engineering Group.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said last week that Vin Miles, the company’s senior vice president of business development, is planning to retire to “pursue his interests in other areas.”
He will remain with the company on a full-time basis for the rest of 2006, then work through a transition period as Alnylam identifies a replacement.

Archemix said this week that James Gilbert has been named chief medical officer and senior vice president of clinical and regulatory affairs of the aptamer-based drug developer.
Before his appointment at Archemix, Gilbert was vice president of clinical development, cardiovascular/inflammation, at Millennium Pharmaceuticals.
He has a MD from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and a BS in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University.

GWC Technologies has appointed Timothy Stultz to its board of directors. Stultz is president and CEO of Imago Scientific Instruments.

Ronni Sherman will resign from Stratagene as executive vice president and general counsel on Oct. 13, the company said last week. However, she will remain as a paid hourly consultant for an additional period of one year at rates of $250-$350 per hour depending on the services rendered.
Sherman will also receive a lump sum payment of approximately $224,000 and will be entitled to receive an additional $40,000 in quarterly $10,000 installments over the next 12 months.
In addition, she will be entitled to receive a minimum retainer for her consulting services of $10,000 per three-month period during each of the next four three-month periods, according to Stratagene.
Half of Sherman’s hourly consulting service billings will be credited against such retainer amounts. Her medical insurance benefits will also be continued at Stratagene’s expense for a period of 18 months.

ProNAi Therapeutics has named its new scientific advisory board:
·        Tod Woolf, founder and CEO of IPIFINI;
·        Cy Stein, professor and head of genitourological cancer at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York;
·        Mace Rothenberg, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School;
·        Ayad Al-Katib, head of oncology at St. Johns Medical Center in Detroit and professor of medicine at Wayne State University Medical School in Detroit;
·        David Olson, vice president of research at PanCell, and co-founder of Gentera in Ann Arbor, Mich;
·        Craig Webb, director and principal investigator at tumor metastasis and angiogenesis laboratory;
·        John Schimenti, professor and director of vertebrate genomics at Cornell University in New York; and
·        Terry Magnuson, professor and chair of genetics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

John Niederhuber will be sworn in as the 13th director of the National Cancer Institute on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. EST.

The Scan

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.

Family Genetic Risk Score Linked to Diagnostic Trajectory in Psychiatric Disorders

Researchers in JAMA Psychiatry find ties between high or low family genetic risk scores and diagnostic stability or change in four major psychiatric disorders over time.

Study Questions Existence of Fetal Microbiome

A study appearing in Nature this week suggests that the reported fetal microbiome might be the result of sample contamination.

Fruit Fly Study Explores Gut Microbiome Effects on Circadian Rhythm

With gut microbiome and gene expression experiments, researchers in PNAS see signs that the microbiome contributes to circadian rhythm synchronicity and stability in fruit flies.