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Markers/Short Reads: May 1, 2006

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Fisher Scientific, looking to increase its profile in molecular diagnostics, will acquire privately held Athena Diagnostics for $283 million and has paid $15 million in cash for a 9 percent stake in Nanogen.


NIH issued a five-year, $16.3 million grant to the Institute for Systems Biology to fund the operation of a Center for Systems Biology in Seattle. The new center, which will be located at ISB’s research and office building, is the sixth of its kind in the US. Others have been established at Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Washington, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Case Western Reserve University.


President Bush nominated NCI Director Andrew von Eschenbach to head the US Food and Drug Administration. Von Eschenbach, who has been acting director of the FDA since Lester Crawford resigned in September 2005, has been a vocal supporter of genomic-related technologies in drug discovery.


Lion Bioscience has sold its bioinformatics assets to BioWisdom Limited, a developer of custom biomedical ontologies. The privately held, Cambridge, UK-based company will pay up to €4 million for Lion’s bioinformatics business.


The Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium kicked off a multi-million-dollar research program called the Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative. The program is a collaboration between MMRC, TGen, and the Broad Institute.


The UK Biobank expects to invite 3,000 residents of the south Manchester area to take part in the startup phase of the national DNA database. The project, which aims to collect samples from up to a half million participants between the ages of 45 and 69, is scheduled to launch nationwide later this year.


Genizon raised $10.6 million in debt financing from venture capital firms and other investors, including Illumina. The money will be used to increase its GeneMap and drug target inventory, according to the company.


Renato Paro was named professor for biosystems at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, and will be a founding director of the Center of Biosystems Science and Engineering. The center will have 15 professorships in life sciences, engineering, and informatics and will integrate research activities of ETH Zurich, he University of Basel, and the University of Zurich.


Stephen Lammert has joined Stillwater to lead the development of a new line of mass spectrometers. Lammert has held R&D roles at Oak Ridge, and began mass spectrometry work at PerkinElmer and Thermo Finnigan.


Deltadot, a London-based firm that develops tools for protein and nucleic-acid analysis, raised £6 million in a round of venture capital financing.


Shaun Lonergan, vice president of business development at 454 Life Sciences, has left the company. 454 has named Katherine Webster vice president of sales.


Jenny Graves, head of the comparative genomics research group at the Research School of Biological Sciences at the Australian National University and director of the ARC Centre for Kangaroo Genomics at ANU and the University of Melbourne, was selected Asia-Pacific laureate of the L’oréal-Unesco 2006 awards for Women in Science.


Qiagen has created a high-throughput RNAi user forum open to all scientists. The forum, which will meet semiannually, will be coordinated by Spyro Mousses at TGen, John Hogenesch from Scripps, NCI’s Natasha Caplen, Carl Novina at Harvard, and Lucas Pelkmans from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.


Guy della Cioppa, who served as vice president of business development at Predictive Diagnostics until last June and was most recently head of business development at Advanced Ideas in Medicine, died March 3 when his vehicle veered off a road near Davis, Calif., and hit a tree. He was 56.

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