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Markers/Short Reads : Sep 1, 2006

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The Wellcome Trust announced the establishment of UK PubMed Central, a free online archive of peer-reviewed medical and life science research papers. The database, which is set to launch in January 2007, will be operated by the British Library, the University of Manchester, and the European Bioinformatics Institute under a contract from the Wellcome Trust and eight other UK-based research funders.

A jury decided that Stratagene should pay Invitrogen nearly $8 million in damages for infringing its patents. The jury determined that Invitrogen’s patent involving a process for developing competent cell products is valid and that Stratagene infringed that patent by making and selling its competent E. coli cell products. The judge has yet to make a final judgment, and Stratagene may appeal the verdict.

The US Department of Energy will spend $250 million in the next few years to help create two bioenergy research centers that will use systems biology and other methods to accelerate research on cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels. Universities, national labs, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are expected to compete for the funding.

Shanghai Genomics and Centocor have set up a drug discovery collaboration, initially for a period of a year and a half, to investigate inflammatory signaling pathways.

The US Food and Drug Administration appointed Mark Goldberger as medical director for emerging and pandemic threat preparedness in its Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Richard Eglen, formerly of DiscoveRx, has signed on at PerkinElmer to fill the newly created position of vice president and general manager for discovery and research reagents.

Tim Humphreys, a professor in the medical school at the University of Hawaii, has been chosen to head up the new Center for Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics at the university.

The US Army’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded Luminex a 12-month, $300,000 grant to develop its chip-scale xMAP technology for biodefense applications.

Cecil Pickett, formerly senior vice president at Schering-Plough and president of the Schering-Plough Research Institute, has signed on to be Biogen’s president of R&D.

David King will succeed Thomas MacMahon as CEO of LabCorp, effective January 1 of next year. King will also join the board of directors.

Proteomics technology firm Caprion Pharmaceuticals withdrew its initial public offering this summer due to “adverse market conditions,” according to the company.

Michael Morgan is the new chief scientific officer of Genome Canada, the organization announced. Morgan is former CEO of the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus.

LI-COR Biosciences is offering $1.75 million in Genomics Education Matching Funds to high schools, colleges, and universities to help them buy the firm’s DNA sequencing systems for under-graduates studying molecular biology and related fields.

HistoRx has named John Tonkinson as vice president of business development. Tonkinson was recently director of business development at Epitome BioSystems, and before that he was director of sales and scientific services at Schleicher & Schuell BioScience.

South Carolina’s academic review board approved Clemson University’s request to create an endowed chair in nutrigenomics, allocating $2 million for the endowment. The catch: Clemson must raise matching funds from the private sector. The chair will focus on the effects of plant foods on gene expression in obesity and investigate how nutrients interact with the human genome on the molecular level.

Exagen Diagnostics added three director-level positions with John Adair from Immucor, now director of quality; Petra Schwartz, director of human resources; and John Burns, lead software architect.

The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is working on recommendations for “dual use” research. That is, research that “can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied by others to pose a threat to public health, agriculture, plants, animals, the environment, or material.”

Evotec Technologies sold the core of its single molecule detection technology and transferred or licensed the related IP to Olympus. The Evotec division and Olympus previously collaborated on the MF20 molecular interaction analytical system.

NanoDetection Technology will work with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a biochip-based onsite avian influenza detection system.

Gene Logic announced a restructuring of its genomics division, which will result in cutting about 80 jobs in the unit. The company said this move would ultimately save more than $8 million per year.

Christophe Mérieux, who served as bioMérieux’s vice president of research and development, died July 14 after a heart attack. He was 39 and head of Transgène, the company’s Strausbourg-based subsidiary.

The Scan

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.

Duke University Team Develops Programmable RNA Tool for Cell Editing

Researchers have developed an RNA-based editing tool that can target specific cells, as they describe in Nature.

Novel Gene Editing Approach for Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers in Science Advances report on their development of a non-nuclease-based gene editing approach they hope to apply to treat cystic fibrosis.

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.