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General Electric, Thermo Electron, Massachusetts General Hospital, ENCODE, NIH, Biolog, Washington University, Northrop Grumman, Applied Biosystems

GE Reiterates Earnings Outlook for ‘04, ‘05

General Electric is on track to reach earnings-per-share target ranges of $1.57 to $1.60 in 2004, and double-digit EPS growth in 2005, Keith Sherin, GE’s chief financial officer said on Tuesday at an investor meeting.

“Our operations are in excellent shape, and the economic fundamentals we see remain very strong,” Sherin said in a statement. “We are ahead of plan on the integration of our major acquisitions, Amersham and Universal, and our growth initiatives continue to deliver.”

Thermo, Mass General Open New Proteomics Facility in Massachusetts

Thermo Electron and Massachusetts General Hospital have opened the doors to a new facility designed to develop mass-spectrometry-based technologies for protein biomarker discovery, the company said this week.

The 3,000-square-foot space, called the Biomarker Research Initiatives in Mass Spectrometry Center, or BRIMS, is based in Cambridge, Mass.

Mass General will provide basic research aimed at identifying biomarkers for cardiovascular disease. Thermo Electron will assign a team for research into mass spectrometry, protein techniques, and informatics.

It was unclear how much Thermo would spend on equipping the new center and leasing the portion of the Cambridge building to be used for the center.

In collaboration with MGH and other Boston research institutions, including Harvard medical school, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital, Thermo began working on the discovery of biomarkers for cardiovascular disease in 2001. The idea for the center grew out of the cardiovascular research and company initiatives to fund areas of strategic growth.

ENCODE Project Announces $5.5 Million in Tech Development Grants

Six researchers in labs in the US and Singapore received $5.5 million in technology developments grants ranging from two to three years as part of the next step in the ENCODE consortium, the National Human Genome Research Institute announced last week.

The ENCODE [Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project, established in Sept. 2003 with the goal of creating a “parts list” of the all the sequence-based functional elements in the human DNA sequence, on Thursday detailed its strategy in an article published in the Oct. 22 issue of Science.

The project will have three phases - pilot, technology development, and production. The pilot and technology development phases will be conducted simultaneously, with a targeted period of three years set for completion. The pilot project will devise and test high-throughput approaches to identify functional elements.

The technology development phase will develop computational and lab methods to identify known functional sequences, and discover new functional genomic elements.

The pilot project and the technology development will focus on 44 DNA targets, covering about 1 percent of the human genome. The targets were selected to provide a representative cross section of the entire human genome sequence, NHGRI said in a statement.

Recipients of the 2004 ENCODE technology development grants, projects, and their total approximate funding are:

  • Joseph Ecker, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, Calif. — “Genome Wide Analysis of DNA Methylation” - $1.5 million (3 years);
  • Vishwanath Iyer, University of Texas, Austin - “Sequence Tag Analysis of Genomic Enrichment (STAGE) and Formaldehyde-Assisted Isolation of Regulatory Elements (FAIRE) for Regulatory Element Identification” - $1.3 million (3 years);
  • Yijun Ruan, Genome Institute of Singapore - “Di-tag Technologies for Complete Transcriptome Annotation” - $1 million (3 years);
  • Thomas Tullius, Boston University - “Structure of Genomic DNA at Single-Nucleotide Resolution” - $870,000 (3 years);
  • Madaiah Puttaraju, Intronn, Gaithersburg, Md. - “Use of RNA Trans-splicing to Identify Splice Sites” - $420,000 (2 years);
  • Scott Tenenbaum, University at Albany, State University of New York - “Identifying Functional Regulatory Elements in RNA” - $410,000 (2 years).

NIH Sets Aside $5 Million for Certain Proteomics Research Projects in ‘05

The US National Institutes of Health issued last week an RFA requesting research proposals related to membrane protein production and structure determination.

The NIH plans to commit about $5 million to the program during 2005. The number of projects receiving funding will depend on the number of requests made.

According to the NIH, National Institute of General Medical Sciences is accepting applications for a program funding the “development of innovative methods for production of membrane proteins, production of proteins in sufficient quantities for study, and structural studies of membrane proteins.”

According to the NIH, researchers’ “understanding of the structure, function, and mechanisms of integral membrane proteins has been limited by the paucity of available high resolution structures.”

As a result, the institute is looking for project proposals involving “novel approaches to cloning, expression, oligomeric assembly, solubilization, stabilization, and purification of membrane proteins [that will] advance the production of structurally and functionally intact membrane proteins suitable for structural studies.” The agency is also looking for innovative “methods for structure determination, including crystallization, phasing, isotopic labeling, and collection of x-ray crystallographic, nuclear magnetic resonance, and other relevant data,” the RFA said.

Proposals for projects designed to “obtain preliminary data in support of regular investigator-initiated research projects and to conduct structural studies of integral membrane proteins” are also being accepted.

Letters of intent for those seeking funding are due by Dec. 23. Applications are due by Jan. 24, 2005.

Biolog Wins NIH Grant to Study Pathogens With its Microarray Technology; Wash U is Partner

The US National Institutes of Health awarded Biolog a Small Business Technology Transfer grant to help the company develop its Phenotype MicroArray technology, the company said last week.

Biolog intends to use the technology against fastidious pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni, the causes of peptic ulcers and certain food poisonings, in its collaboration with Washington University, the firm said.

The amount of the grant was not disclosed.

Northrop Grumman Gets $29.4 Million Contract for NIAID Data Integration Project

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $29.4 million contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a database and website to centralize and integrate immunology data from studies funded by the institute's division of allergy, immunology, and transplantation.

The contract starts with a two-year base period followed by a four-year option to the Federal Enterprise Solutions unit of Northrop's information technology business.

Northrop's Rockville, Md., facility will collaborate on the project with the laboratory of Richard Scheuermann at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, as well as The Kevric Company of Silver Spring, Md., Unicorn Solutions of Reston, Va., and Biomind of Columbia, Md.

Applied Biosystems Plans to Launch Human Linkage Mapping Set in '05

Applied Biosystems next year will launch a new 4-K human linkage mapping set for its SNPlex genotyping system, which will run on both its 3130 series genetic analyzers and 3730 DNA analyzers. The new linkage mapping set is a high-density, SNP-based solution for family-based linkage analysis.

The Scan

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.

Tibetan Study Finds Adaptive Variant Influencing Skin Pigmentation

With a combination of phenotyping and genetic data, researchers document at PNAS a Tibetan-enriched enhancer variant influencing melanin synthesis and ultraviolet light response.

Domestication Linked to Nervous System Genes in Inbred Mouse Strains

Researchers highlighted more than 300 positively selected genes in domesticated mice, including genes linked to nervous system function or behavior in Genome Biology.

ALS Genetic Testing May Be Informative Across Age Ranges, Study Finds

Researchers in the journal Brain identified clinically actionable variants in a significant subset of older ALS patients, prompting them to point to the potential benefits of broader test use.