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Markers/Short Reads: Jun 1, 2006

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Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific announced a $10.6 billion all-stock merger. The combined company will be called Thermo Fisher Scientific. Fisher’s CEO Paul Montrone will step down, and Thermo CEO Marijn Dekkers will become president and CEO of the new entity.

The UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has awarded £27 million to create three new centers for integrative systems biology at the Universities of Edinburgh, Nottingham, and Oxford. These will join the three other centers created last year at Imperial College, Manchester, and Newcastle.

In an attempt to settle their patent dispute, ABI parent Applera and Beckman Coulter have agreed to pay each other royalty-bearing licenses for their respective technologies. The settlement resolves “all outstanding legal disputes” regarding Beckman’s CE and PCR technologies, as well as Applera’s breach-of-contract allegations.

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation have teamed up to develop drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and other technologies for infectious diseases, which include dengue fever, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, influenza, pneumonia, and malaria.

Seymour Benzer, Caltech’s Drosophila genomics pioneer, received the $500,000 Albany Medical Center Prize, which is the US’s largest monetary award for medicine and biomedical research.

Danish drug developer Santaris Pharma has created a MicroRNA Research Consortium in partnership with the Department for Medical Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Copenhagen. The new consortium is partially supported by a grant from the the Danish Advanced Technology Foundation worth €1.3 million, which will be matched by the University of Copenhagen and Santaris Pharma.

Millipore has plans to acquire Serologicals for $1.4 billion in cash — which is about how much revenue the combined company will make this year. The acquisition will close on June 30.

Pelican Life Sciences, one of the newer reagent shops on the block, has raised $100 million in private equity for acquisitions and development. The company also completed its first acquisition, that of PML Microbiologicals, originally announced last December.

Third Wave Technologies has made two new appointments to its senior management team: Jorge Garces has been appointed vice president of product and platform development, and Cindy Ahn has been appointed vice president and general counsel.

The Nasdaq exchange has given Sequenom until June 15 to comply with its minimum closing bid price requirement (that’s $1.00) and remain listed on the exchange.

The times are a-changin’ for Affymetrix management. Susan Siegel resigned from her position as president, but will stay on as an advisor reporting to chairman and CEO Stephen Fodor. Thane Kreiner is now senior veep of marketing and sales, while Richard Rava has been appointed head of product development. Mitchell Kennedy, previously VP of global technical support, has left the company.

The NIH has awarded a $1.58 million grant to researchers led by Thomas Earnest at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop new robotic systems for high-throughput protein crystallography and related structural biology research.

UK-based BioWisdom has joined the AddNeuroMed project of the European Commission’s Innovative Medicines for Europe consortium, where it will use its Sofia software platform to help identify and validate Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers.

Reagent company Panomics has opened a wholly owned European subsidiary, Panomics SRL, located in Milan, Italy. Bio-Rad alumni Luigi Pirovano was named managing director of the new unit.

The Scan

Unique Germline Variants Found Among Black Prostate Cancer Patients

Through an exome sequencing study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers have found unique pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants within a cohort of Black prostate cancer patients.

Analysis of Endogenous Parvoviral Elements Found Within Animal Genomes

Researchers at PLOS Biology have examined the coevolution of endogenous parvoviral elements and animal genomes to gain insight into using the viruses as gene therapy vectors.

Saliva Testing Can Reveal Mosaic CNVs Important in Intellectual Disability

An Australian team has compared the yield of chromosomal microarray testing of both blood and saliva samples for syndromic intellectual disability in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.