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Markers/Short Reads: Nov 1, 2003


Private-sector funding makes a comeback …
Ernst & Young reports that 2003 has been a banner year for biotech funding, with drug and therapeutic companies raising more than $7.7 billion through July. In fact, 2003 could wind up being the second or third best biotech fundraising year ever. E&Y also reports that 15 US biotech companies are poised to go public.

… and government funding flows forth in the fourth quarter:
Harvard’s Bauer Center for Genomics Research wins a $3 million NIGMS Center of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research grant. Funding over five years is expected to total $15 million.

NHGRI designates Columbia University a Center of Excellence in Genomic Science — a title worth $11 million over three years. Jingyue Ju is PI of the new center.

Perlegen wins a half-million dollar NIAID grant to use its microarray wafers to obtain SNP-set signatures from 40 strains of Salmonella, and the same agency awards Nucleonics $1.6 million over four years to develop RNAi reagents and methods against the Hepatitis B virus.

US Genomics wins a $500,000 phase II SBIR grant from the NSF to develop its DNA analysis and genomic mapping technologies.

NIAID also awards five research centers $85 million in grants to establish Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense. Winning institutions are: Emory School of Medicine, Baylor Research Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Stanford School of Medicine, and UMass Medical School.

NSF and USDA are seeking proposals by December 15 for 20 to 30 grants to become available in FY2004 for microbial sequencing. Most awards will be between $100,000 and $2.5 million for up to three years.

DOD awards $1.2 million for personnel and lab upgrades used in cancer research to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Advanced Proteomics Program.

Not to be outdone, PNNL wins a five-year, $10.5 million NIH grant to support a center for basic research in proteomics — a designated NIH research resource center.

Harvard Med School plans to recruit 20 faculty to its new systems biology department — the school’s first new department in two decades — and appoints cell biologist Mark Kirschner chair.

HUPO names a new president: McGill University proteomics researcher John Bergeron will take the reins from Sam Hanash in June 2004.


The Scan

Wolf Howl Responses Offer Look at Vocal Behavior-Related Selection in Dogs

In dozens of domestic dogs listening to wolf vocalizations, researchers in Communication Biology see responses varying with age, sex, reproductive status, and a breed's evolutionary distance from wolves.

Facial Imaging-Based Genetic Diagnoses Appears to Get Boost With Three-Dimensional Approach

With data for more than 1,900 individuals affected by a range of genetic conditions, researchers compared facial phenotype-based diagnoses informed by 2D or 3D images in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Survey Suggests Multigene Cancer Panel VUS Reporting May Vary Across Genetic Counselors

Investigators surveyed dozens of genetic counselors working in clinical or laboratory settings, uncovering attitudes around VUS reporting after multigene cancer panel testing in the Journal of Genetic Counseling.

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.