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MacroGenics, Victoria University, University of Kansas, NIH, Cox Communications

MacroGenics Closes $30.5M Series B VC Round

MacroGenics, a Rockville, Md.-based firm that develops therapeutic antibodies for use in the treatment of various cancers and inflammatory diseases, has collected $30.5 million in a Series B round of private-equity financing, the company said last week.

MacroGenics lists Institute for Systems Biology co-founders Lee Hood, Alan Aderem, and Ruedi Aebersold among its founders, as well as Jeffrey Ravetch from Rockefeller University.

Alta Partners and TPG Ventures led the financing, which included investments by Mithra Group, Red Abbey Venture Partners, Emerging Technology Partners, and Series A shareholders InterWest Partners, MPM Capital, OrbiMed, Cogene BioTech Ventures, Vivo Ventures, and Hunt Ventures. Also in the mix is an undisclosed corporate investor.

MacroGenics, which is also trying to develop antibodies and vaccines to treat cancer, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases, will use the cash to support the clinical development of certain drug candidates and “recent in-licensed opportunities in infectious diseases.”

The company was founded in 2000 and has taken in $61.6 million in funding. In June 2002, MacroGenics acquired Eliance, a vaccine discovery company founded with technology developed by Stephen Johnston and colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern.

Ed Hurwitz, general partner of the Alta Biopharma III venture-capital investment fund of Alta Partners of San Francisco, and formerly vice president and chief financial officer of Affymetrix, joins the board of directors.

Victoria University of New Zealand Opens Marine Multidisciplinary Research Center

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, on Thursday will launch the Center for Marine Environmental and Economic Research, a multidisciplinary marine research center based within the university’s school of biological sciences, the university said in a statement.

The center will focus on marine-related research in areas such as law, economics and public policy as well as marine environmental, ecological and biological research. The center is conducting a project on the genetics of New Zealand’s shellfish production.

The Center is the seventh applied research center to be established at the university, after the launch of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology (now a Government-funded center for research excellence), the New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing in February 2002, the Crime and Justice Research Center in August 2002, the Roy McKenzie Center for the Study of Families in February 2003, the Center of Applied Cross-Cultural Research in October 2003 and the Center for Biodiscovery in March 2004. Under the University’s strategic plan, at least 10 applied research centers will be established to focus on areas of specialist research. Jonathan Gardner, a senior lecturer in the school of biological sciences, will serve as director.

University of Kansas Opens Structural Biology Center

The University of Kansas dedicated the Structural Biology Center on its Lawrence campus last week.

The 17,000-square-foot, $10.2 million center houses an 800-megahertz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, which will be used to study protein interactions, the university said in a statement.

NIH Roadmap Funds Proteomics, Bioinformatics Projects with $3.85M

The NIH has awarded two grants totaling $3.85 million to Rutgers University multi-institutional proteomics and bioinformatics initiatives under its Roadmap program, the university said on Monday.

A $2 million, five-year training grant goes to the BioMaPS Institute for Quantitative Biology at Rutgers and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium, and the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics/Protein Data Bank. It will be used to train graduate students and postdocs in proteomics.

The Computational Center for Biomolecular Complexes, a virtual research initiative involving scientists at Rutgers, Baylor College of Medicine, the Scripps Research Institute, and the University of Texas at Austin, won $1.85 million to develop workshops, undertake pilot studies, and develop new computational systems to study large molecular complexes.

Media Company Donates $3 Million To TGen Foundation; TV Spots Planned

The Arizona division of Cox Communications this week announced the donation of $3 million to the TGen Foundation to help pay for research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute of Phoenix, according to local news reports.

The cable company also plans to air 30-second television ads to help educate Arizona residents about the institute’s work in research for diseases such as breast cancer, autism, and prostate cancer, the Arizona Republic newspaper said this week. TGen was established in 2002 and has temporary offices in Phoenix and labs in Tempe while it waits for construction to finish on a new building.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.