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Markers/Short Reads: Sep 1, 2005

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NCI and NHGRI agreed to commit $50 million apiece for a pilot cancer genome project that will attempt to collect and analyze all genetic mutations found in human cancers. The pilot project may take up to three years and will begin in 2006.

 

The new 230,000-square-foot building to house the Broad Institute is scheduled to be completed in January, and researchers should be moved in by April. The facility is located in the heart of Kendall Square.

 

The US Congress officially named Lester Crawford as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Crawford has been in the post as acting commissioner.

 

Beckman Coulter expects to cut 350 jobs in a corporate restructuring this year. News of the layoffs, which represent about 3 percent of Beckman’s staff, came at the same time the company reported a drop in earnings for the second quarter of 2005.

 

Ciphergen has laid off about a third of its staff, or some 45 people, in an effort to cut costs.

 

Decode Genetics hired three former Pfizer execs: Daniel Hartman will be senior veep of product development; and David Hermann and Peter Van Ess will both work in the biotech’s drug development group.

 

Invitrogen announced plans to buy BioSource International. In an offer that bested a bid earlier this year from Bio-Rad Laboratories, Invitrogen will fork over $130 million in cash for the reagent provider.

 

David Persing will be chief medical and technical officer overseeing R&D for Cepheid. Persing has been a company director since April 2004 and will remain on the company’s board.

 

Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Medicina Genomica unveiled three new units formed in conjunction with Applied Biosystems, Affymetrix, and IBM for sequencing/genotyping, gene expression analysis, and bioinformatics, respectively.

 

Jun-Jei Sheu is the new chairman and chief scientist of Applied DNA Sciences, replacing Rob Hutchison. Sheu was formerly CEO of Biowell Technology.

 

Labcyte, a liquid-handling equipment supplier, closed a Series C funding round worth $21 million, and says it will use the money to expand the use of its technology into the genomics and proteomics markets.

 

Rudy Potenzone joined CambridgeSoft as VP of enterprise solutions. The former CEO of Lion Bioscience’s US subsidiary worked most recently at Ingenuity, where he was senior vice president of business development and strategic planning.

 

Clemson University and the Greenwood Genetic Center, both based in South Carolina, plan to invest close to $15 million in a partnership called the Genetics Collaborative, which is expected to increase research and education in human genetics.

 

Lawrence Bruder was promoted to president and COO of Guava Technologies. Previously, Bruder, who came to Guava after being vice president of the functional proteomics division at Applied Biosystems, was VP of corporate development and worldwide marketing.

 

Formerly a manager at Genomic Solutions, Andrew MacDonald is head of the new microarray technologies division for Genesis Diagnostics.

 

Fisher Scientific International formed a definitive agreement to acquire Cellomics, a privately held high-content-screening company, for approximately $49 million in cash.

 

Robert Ragusa, who was senior vice president of global operations at Applied Biosystems, has taken on the same title at Affymetrix, where he will oversee areas including array and instrument manufacturing, procurement, facilities and real estate.

 

Ed Chait joins Bioanalytical Systems as executive vice president and chief scientific officer. Chait was previously CEO of Spectral Genomics.

 

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.