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The Instrumental Issue

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Those who call Genome Technology “the People magazine of genomics” are going to be disappointed this month. This issue is jam-packed with technology and instrumentation stories; we even had to cut our regular Wild Type personality profile to fit it all in.

We’ve got a cover story on how to choose a mass spectrometer, including data from the first Genome Technology/ProteoMonitor survey of mass spec users (see ProteoMonitor for more comprehensive coverage of the responses we got from nearly 200 users). We’ve got a news piece from GenomeWeb news reporter Kat McGowan on what the FDA thinks about microarrays and what pharmas think about FDA. We’ve got six bioinformatics execs sitting around a table talking with BioInform editor Bernadette Toner about the challenges that are coming up for their sector. Our IT Guy delivers the dirt on protein databases. We’ve profiled Baylor’s sequencing lab ramp-up for the rat genome project. And guest GenoMoney columnist Scott Greenstone of Thomas Weisel Partners gives a financial outlook on the mass spectrometer market.

That’s not to say that this issue is devoid of juicy, behind-the-scenes coverage. Quite to the contrary. Meredith Salisbury’s report on the pending legal battle over the four-color, automated sequencer patents is about as titillating as this industry gets.

Meredith, who says she felt like Agatha Christie unraveling the decades-old whodunit plot and interrogating Lee Hood’s old Caltech lab staff about invention days gone by, even helps you out with a cast of characters at the beginning of her piece. Truth be told, Meredith had been accumulating documents, letters, binders, and recordings of speeches dating back to 1979, gearing up to report on this very topic for months, when USA Today broke the news on April 18 that the US Department of Justice had unsealed its investigation of Hood and ABI. Enterprising reporter that she is, Meredith scrambled to compose her bigger story in time for this issue before some other publication could beat her to it. She lugged her mountain of documents — stacked on our postage scale they weigh 14 pounds — home with her on weekends “in case the office catches fire.” (Yes, you have to be a little kooky to do the managing editor’s job as well as she does it.)

What she delivers here is everything she’s uncovered to date. But the lawsuit will undoubtedly be ongoing for years to come, and you can be sure that Meredith will be updating you on the case as it unfolds, letting you know, especially if you’re in a government lab that owns a fleet of automated sequencers, how it all could affect you (rebate anyone?).

Adrienne J. Burke, Editor in Chief

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.