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Robert Baird, PerkinElmer, Waters, Thermo Electron, Monash University, GE Healthcare, NSF, Integrated Nano-Technologies, NIH, Agilent, 454 Life Sciences

Baird Downgrades PKI, WAT, TMO

Analyst Larry Neibor at Robert Baird on Wednesday cut PerkinElmer, Waters, and Thermo Electron to neutral.

Neibor wasn't available for comment as of deadline for publication Wednesday.

Waters shares were down some 22 percent in morning trading Wednesday after the company slashed its Q1 '05 revenue growth estimates to a range of 3 percent to 4 percent from its previous guidance of 13 percent (see article and BCW Index).

PerkinElmer and Waters shares fell approximately 1 percent in morning trading. Neibor had upgraded the stocks to outperform from neutral in May before downgrading the firms to neutral on Wednesday.

Australia's Monash University Purchases
GE Healthcare Protein Prep Platform

GE Healthcare said this week that Monash University in Victoria, Australia, has purchased a GE Healthcare AKTAxpress parallel protein-purification workstation.

The purchase has been funded through an Australian Research Council linkage infrastructure equipment and facilities grant for an undisclosed amount. The grant was awarded to professors from the University of Monash, University of Melbourne, and the Walter and Eliza Health Institute, GE said.

According to GE, the AKTAxpress system is sold with two or four modules per system. Monash purchased three complete four-module systems for a 12-module system — the largest configuration of its kind in the world, GE said. The system enables production of as many as 48 proteins simultaneously.

The new workstation will be "closely linked" to Victoria's $180 million Australian Synchrotron facility, slated to open in 2007, GE said.

Integrated Nano-Technologies Wins $500K
NSF SBIR Grant for DNA Detection Tech

The National Science Foundation has awarded Integrated Nano-Technologies a two-year, $500,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant to further develop its DNA detection technology for biological agent detection, INT said this week.

The grant is build out INT's BioDetect platform, a portable system that integrates DNA and microelectronics to detect the presence of biological agents such as SARS, anthrax, and smallpox in as little as 20 minutes, INT said.

NIH's Zerhouni Tells Industry That
Ethics Rules Won't Stifle Collaboration

Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, sent an open letter addressed to "industrial partners" last week that sought to reassure them that NIH would continue to work with industry despite recent changes in its conflict-of-interest rules.

The March 25 letter, distributed through an e-mail listserve from the NIH's office of technology transfer, states that the new rules do not prevent NIH employees from engaging in official activities or collaborations with industry. "The NIH and its investigators will continue to work with our industrial partners and maintain constructive interactions that remain untainted by bias and conflict," the letter said. "Strategic partnerships between NIH, private industry, and nonprofit organizations will continue to be a key element of translating biomedical research from the bench to the bedside."

Such collaborations can be informal exchanges of scientific information and preliminary discussions, as well as more formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreements.

The director's message follows new conflict of interest rules for NIH employees that were announced on Feb. 1.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology this week posted a response that said that the NIH's conflict-of-interest regulation is "overly restrictive."

FASEB made its comments in a letter to the Office of General Counsel at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

While FASEB "support[s] efforts to preserve the integrity of science," FASEB president Paul Kincade writes in the letter, it also expresses concern that "much of the interim final rule is overly restrictive.

"The provisions limit, without corresponding gain in protection from conflicts of interest, the ability of NIH scientists to engage in critically important teaching and scholarly activity," the letter reads.

FASEB further outlines in the letter several areas in which it feels the NIH guidelines are too restrictive and areas that it feels modifications could be made. These areas include: to whom the guidelines apply; prohibition of specific outside activities, such as service to scientific professional societies; the approval process for outside activities; and awards to NIH employees.

Agilent Sells $4M in Equipment to
CDC for Chemical Terrorism Testing

Agilent Technologies will sell $4 million worth of chemical emission testing systems and services, including 30 chromatography/mass spectrometry systems, to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the company said last week.

The equipment is intended to help the CDC respond to chemical terrorism threats, Agilent said.

"These instruments will help guide public health management of chemical incidents by identifying the chemical agent and determining who has been exposed and their level of exposure," said Mike McMullen, vice president and general manager of Agilent's chemical analysis solutions unit.

The CDC had previously bought $5 million worth of other life sciences equipment and services from Agilent for its Chemical Terrorism Laboratory Network.

454 Installs its Sequencing
Technology at Broad Institute

454 Life Sciences has completed the installation of its first commercial genome sequencing system at Harvard University's and MIT's Broad Institute, the company said last week.

454, a subsidiary of CuraGen, has developed a system that accelerates sequencing processes through the use of microfluidics and other methods of miniaturizing current technology. Previously, the company, based in Brandford, Conn., offered use of the system as a service.


The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.