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In Review: Mid-size Sequencing Centers, Amersham, Tech Transfer, and Electron Transfer Dissociation

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Back in 2003, Genome Technology's cover story delved into NHGRI’s controversial decision to ignore mid-sized sequencing facilities and give most of its sequencing grants to the Big Three: Baylor, Whitehead (now the Broad), and Washington University. Left out in the cold were Harvard’s Raju Kucherlapati, Stanford's Rick Myers, CSHL’s Dick McCombie, UW's Maynard Olson, and the University of Oklahoma's Bruce Roe. The fate of these smaller facilities, which housed between four and 20 sequencers and had budgets between $2 million and $10 million, seemed to hang uncertainly. But all of those researchers found a way to survive, and are still working on various sequencing-related projects. Myers, for example, participated in the ENCODE Project, and McCombie took part in annotating the rice genome.

That same issue included an interview with Amersham Biosciences' Andrew Carr. Carr was then president of Amersham, where he was trying to bring the discovery side of the company's businesses (including proteomics, bioassays, and informatics) to profitability. Carr said Amersham's mantra for 2003 would be: "We're in it for the long term." Two years later, Amersham was acquired by GE. Today, Carr holds a variety of positions. He is the chairman for Teraview, deltaDot, and Akubio's boards, and is also an independent consultant for SpinX Technologies and works with SciBridge.

In last year's March issue, GT looked at how scientists are beginning to take advantage of their universities’ technology transfer offices. Since the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act allowed universities to patent their scientists’ technology, the number of patents assigned to US universities rose from fewer than 250 prior to 1980 to 11,000 between 1991 and 2004. In that cover story, Q3's Walid Qoronfleh predicted that patent pooling would become more prevalent in the life sciences since more than one patent is usually needed for biotech companies to stay afloat.

Also in 2007, post-translational modification took center stage. GT spoke with Josh Coon, Akhilesh Pandey, Phil Gafken, Scott McLuckey, and Benedikt Kessler about electron transfer dissociation, a technique to uncover PTMs. Coon, an ETD pioneer, sang its praises while Pandey's lab tested its capabilites — finding 80 percent of the modification sites described in the literature. Others were more cautious, saying classical instruments still have much to offer.

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