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RNAi Last Year and Now, Janelia Farm Revisited, and the Path of CodeLink

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A feature story in last year’s October issue focused on the potential role for RNA interference technology in the clinic. That same month, Craig Mello and Andrew Fire were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of RNAi. This past May, the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, proposed a 10-year initiative to build and fund medical and biotech research in the state; his proposal includes a new RNAi center to continue on the work of Mello, a University of Massachusetts professor. In this month’s issue, Jeanene Swanson checks into how RNAi is being used to elucidate molecular pathways (p.29).

In the cover story last year, Genome Technology reported on adventurous scientists using ’omics tools to tackle neuroscience research and to better understand all the complexity found in the brain. Since then, Katie Pollard, one of the scientists interviewed, has settled into her own lab at the University of California, Davis, where she is working on finding fast-evolving parts of the primate genome as well as other projects building on high-dimensional genomic data. A few months after this article covered the up-and-coming Allen Brain Atlas, the long-awaited paper on that effort came out in Nature.

Last year’s Under One Roof profiled the new, $500 million Janelia Farm facility, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Since its opening in northern Virginia last fall, Janelia Farm group leader Karel Svoboda reported in Nature Neuroscience that genetically encoding light-sensitive proteins from green algae into mice allowed researchers to better map how neuronal circuits are wired together. Also, Janelia Farm director Gerald Rubin was elected as a foreign member to the Fellowship of the Royal Society, Britain’s national academy of science.

Five years ago, the cover story of GT profiled that year’s all-stars of the systems biology field. At that time, Ruedi Aebersold was still working at the Institute for Systems Biology that he helped found in 2000. He was then creating software to handle his isotope-coded affinity tagging technique for mass-spectrometry based quantitative proteomics. Now, Aebersold has moved on to the Institute of Molecular Systems Biology in Zurich, Switzerland, where he is still working on quantitative proteomics. That same all-stars story profiled Gene Code’s Howard Cash, whose company at that time was performing STR and forensic SNP analysis on remains found at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan. Since then, Cash’s company has also applied its techniques to help identify victims of the 2005 tsunami in Thailand.

Finally, that issue of 2002 also wondered if Amersham’s purchase of Motorola’s CodeLink would lead it into direct competition with Affymetrix or if it was merely a “rearrangement of pieces” already in play. That wasn’t the end of CodeLink’s shuffling between companies. By April of 2004, GE finalized its acquisition of Amersham and folded the company, and CodeLink, into its GE Healthcare subsidiary. As of this past May, Applied Microarrays acquired the CodeLink arrays from GE.

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