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HP Creates Health and Life Sciences Group


Hewlett-Packard is reorganizing its life science activities with the aim of creating a formal health and life sciences group at the beginning of 2007.

“Up until now, we’ve had different groups within the company working informally together looking at life sciences,” says Lionel Binns, manager of HP’s life science program office. When the new year kicks off, he says, “there will be a new grouping called Health and Life Sciences that looks at the whole of the value chain for life sciences and health.”

This group will address the complete biomedical spectrum, Binns says, from academic and government research to pharmaceutical R&D and clinical trials, to hospital systems and patient care. “We see the whole thing as a continuum now, and not a series of piece parts,” he says.

Binns cited a number of recent market developments as drivers for the new group. On the basic research side — where HP’s life science group has built a large customer base for its high-performance computing systems — Binns says that systems biology and translational research are causing labs to bring in multiple instrumentation platforms, which generate large amounts of disparate data.

Large research labs currently “tend to be looking very broad spectrum at ‘How do we do this from a holistic point of view?’ rather than ‘Let’s sequence this’ or ’Let’s find out about that particular protein,’” he says.

In addition, he notes, “There’s also a real interest in combining the medicine with the science and the science with the medicine. … And it’s clear now that you can’t do the science or the medicine without a strong IT infrastructure behind you.”

Binns says that HP is working with one undisclosed company to design new hospitals that are fully integrated with research centers and facilities for third-party collaborators such as pharmaceutical or biotech firms.

HP is also in discussions with several countries about building an IT infrastructure that can eventually enable them to maintain electronic patient records nationwide, Binns says.

— Bernadette Toner



US Patent 7,117,188. Methods of identifying patterns in biological systems. Inventors: Isabelle Guyon and Jason Weston. Assignee: Health Discovery. Issued: October 3, 2006. According to the abstract, this invention covers “methods, systems, and devices of the present invention comprise use of Support Vector Machines and RFE (Recursive Feature Elimination) for the identification of patterns that are useful for medical diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. SVM-RFE can be used with varied data sets.”  

US Patent 7,117,097. Methods, computer software products, and systems for correlating gene lists. Inventor: David Finkelstein. Assignee: Affymetrix. Issued: October 3, 2006. In one aspect of the invention, methods, computer software products, and systems are provided for comparing two or more lists of the genes. The genes are ranked according to certain criteria, such as the statistical significance of their expression change, the magnitude of expression change, etc. The Spearman Correlation is calculated for the common genes in the lists, while a higher Spearman Correlation indicates the similarity between those lists.



The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid program has issued a request for information to determine third-party interest in becoming a caBIG service provider.  

The National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy have awarded the Open Science Grid Consortium with a five-year, $30 million grant. The OSG is comprised of computing resources from over 50 sites throughout the US, Asia, and South America. Fifteen members of the OSG Consortium, including 11 US universities and four national laboratories, will receive funding.  

Biogen Idec will use Gene-IT’s GenomeQuest sequence search service as part of its patent search process. The service combines sequence search and analytics with public and proprietary sequence content, and an archive with more than 30 million patented sequences.  

Spotfire announced that GlaxoSmithKline is using its DecisionSite software across its chemistry division. A professional Spotfire service team worked with GSK to develop custom analytic solutions.  

Ariadne Genomics recently announced that the National Cancer Institute has purchased site licenses for its pathway analysis software. The NCI has also purchased access to the company’s database of more than 1 million interactions extracted from PubMed.



$66 million

The total amount of funding for two initiatives the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council has created to encourage systems biology research.

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