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In Review: TGen, Waterston and the Washingtons, Missouri's Biotech Dreams, Next-Gen Arrays, and Scripps Florida


In Genome Technology five years ago, our cover story reported on the new Translational Genomics Research Institute. Our article focused on the cancer genomics emphasis of the research organization, but in the time since, TGen, as it has come to be known, has made its name in other areas as well. Last year GT reported on TGen’s neurogenomics director Dietrich Stephan, whose research had linked a gene to memory performance, tracked its function with imaging technology, and identified a group of therapeutics that showed promise in restoring memory in lab rats. TGen has also established a partnership with Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, directed by George Poste. Through that agreement, the institutes co-founded the Center for Systems and Computational Biology.

In a news story five years ago, GT covered Bob Waterston’s departure from the genome center he built at Washington University in St. Louis as he headed off to chair the University of Washington’s new genome sciences department. In the time since then, Waterston’s UW department has attracted a number of prominent scientists, including Evan Eichler from Case Western Reserve University. This year, UW’s Maynard Olson won the Gruber Prize for Genetics. He’ll be given the award in a ceremony at the American Society for Human Genetics next month along with  a $500,000 cash prize.

Also in GT in September 2002, we sat down for a Q&A with Missouri Governor Bob Holden, who had invested the state’s tobacco settlement money, among other revenues, with the goal of turning Missouri into a biotech hotspot. While a number of biotechs call the state home today, it is still struggling to achieve premier status. Lately that struggle comes in the form of stem cell research, which Missouri attempted to promote through an amendment to the state constitution protecting such research late last year. This year, though, funding from the state and other research organizations for stem cell research has apparently dried up, leaving scientists in the field still seeking a welcoming place to work.

In last year’s September issue of GT, our cover story focused on next-gen uses of microarrays, such as for ChIP-chip, microRNAs, protein arrays, methylation, and comparative genomic hybridization. In the time since, more of these arrays have been released — for instance, Asuragen just launched a microRNA-array service model — while chips have continued to find new frontiers. Check out our cover story this month for an in-depth look at how arrays are faring in the diagnostic world.

A year ago, we also checked in on Scripps Florida, the southeastern offshoot of the Scripps Research Institute. The Florida organization had started off with much fanfare, but ran into trouble when the land it planned to build on was tied up in a lawsuit. Finally, the legal woes have ceased, and Scripps Florida dedicated its campus in March of this year. The first of three planned buildings is expected to be ready for scientists to move in by early 2009.

The Scan

International Team Proposes Checklist for Returning Genomic Research Results

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics present a checklist to guide the return of genomic research results to study participants.

Study Presents New Insights Into How Cancer Cells Overcome Telomere Shortening

Researchers report in Nucleic Acids Research that ATRX-deficient cancer cells have increased activity of the alternative lengthening of telomeres pathway.

Researchers Link Telomere Length With Alzheimer's Disease

Within UK Biobank participants, longer leukocyte telomere length is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, according to a new study in PLOS One.

Nucleotide Base Detected on Near-Earth Asteroid

Among other intriguing compounds, researchers find the nucleotide uracil, a component of RNA sequences, in samples collected from the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, as they report in Nature Communications.