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New Models for New Drugs


When the Human Genome Project was wrapping up, it wasn't unusual to hear enthusiasts promising anyone who would listen that the genome sequence data would revolutionize the drug discovery process and completely reshape pharmas.

OK, so we all knew that was a little far-fetched. But like any good hype, there was a grain of truth to it: large-scale biology has truly changed the way basic researchers interact with companies involved in drug discovery, and pharma itself is getting more creative about its prospecting. Advances in translational research have pushed some seemingly academic institutions — the Broad, for instance — to the point where the line between academia and pharma is getting downright blurry.

Ciara Curtin checked in on some creative alternatives coming from pharma, biotech, and academia aimed at figuring out better ways to design drugs and take them through the validation process. Check out her cover story on page 39.

Also in this issue, we've got our Brute Force column updating you on cloud computing and how it's being used for bioinformatics. There are also feature articles on biobanking — a service that is facing changes in sample collection and data handling as a result of dramatically increased demand from the systems biology community — and on chromatin immunoprecipitation, which has taken advantage of arrays and sequencers to go truly high-throughput. Our lab reunion features NHGRI's Eric Green, and we're pleased to have a My Take column from Keith Robison on data integrity issues with sequence databases.

In last issue's salary survey, we accidentally omitted the median salary listings for core lab managers. My apologies to our core lab readers for the oversight. Here is the data we left out:

Median salary ranges for core lab managers, by organization type

Small pharma/biotech ( Large pharma/biotech (>5,000 employees): $85,000-$99,999
University/Academic life sciences institute: $60,000-$74,999
Government agency: $100,000-$109,999

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.