Rick Wilson of Washington University’s Genome Sequencing Center spoke with us right after publishing a high-coverage physical map of the chicken genome; it looks like he’s had a busy year since then. He recently played a part in sequencing the human X chromosome, annotating sequences for chromosomes 2 and 4, and conducting a comparative analysis in human and chimp segmental duplications. And that’s just what he published inNature. Along with colleague Elaine Mardis, Wilson has been test-driving Solexa’s next-generation sequencer.
Last year’s cover story also featured Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Robert Martienssen, who gave a brief history of his work on elucidating epigenetic mechanisms in maize andArabidopsis. Last summer, Martienssen co-chaired a workshop that resulted in a proposal for initiating a Human Epigenome Project, which may do much toward understanding human cancer initiation and progression. Andrew Feinberg, who presented at the AACR-sponsored workshop, tells us more about cancer research and epigenomics in this issue (see pg 29).
For a news piece in last year’s issue,GT caught up with Elaine Ostrander after her move to NHGRI to take on the job of head of cancer genetics. Ostrander fit right in with the issue’s model organism motif, as she was a keynote speaker at last year’s Plant and Animal Genome Conference where she presented initial results on draft sequences for the canine genome. Less than one year later, Ostrander and others published a high-quality draft sequence, comparative analysis, and haplotype structure of the dog genome.
The feature in March 2005 was a story on microRNAs, which had just burst onto the scene as two separate research groups implicated the short RNA in the regulation of nearly a third of the human genome. One year later, researchers are reporting that the majority of mammalian genes appear to be influenced by small, non-coding RNAs, but are not directly regulated by microRNAs. That said, microRNAs continue to fascinate both researchers and vendors alike. The market for commercial microRNA microarrays is becoming increasingly competitive, with players like Ambion, CombiMatrix, Exiqon, and Invitrogen joining the mix.
But five years ago, the microRNA game was hardly an attention-getter. Instead, the siren song of pharmacogenomics had captured the imagination of moguls and MDs alike. It was in this environment that GT looked at Genaissance Pharmaceuticals’ growing SNP discovery business, which has since matured into a drug and diagnostic provider. Genaissance was acquired by Clinical Data last year, but not before inking deals with a couple of Japanese pharma companies. Early this year, Clinical Data split itself into two distinct subsidiaries: Clinical Data Molecular and Vital Diagnostics. Genaissance joins Icoria in comprising the molecular unit, which is slated to concentrate on pharmacogenomics and molecular diagnostics.
— Jen Crebs