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Robert Funari, Ben Bulkley, Sue Pandey, Nancy Pecota, Gianfranco DeFeo, ABI, VisiGen, Invitrogen, Wiley, Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative, CHI, Solexa, CeMines, NCI


Beckman Coulter last week said that Robert Funari has been elected to its board of directors.

Funari is currently chairman and CEO of Crescent Healthcare, where he has been employed since 2004. Prior to that, he served as president and CEO of Syncor International. Funari also spent more than 18 years in various capacities at Baxter International. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.

Ben Bulkley, president of commercial operations for Invitrogen, was elected to the board of directors of the California Healthcare Institute, a non-profit public-policy research organization that represents California academic institutions, biotech, medical device, and pharmaceutical firms.

Sue Pandey has been named vice president of commercial operations at NuGen Technologies, the San Carlos, Calif.-based company said last week. Pandey most recently served as global head of sales at GE Healthcare, where she was responsible for managing its CodeLink operation. Pandey holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

NuGen also named Nancy Pecota to the position of chief financial officer and Gianfranco DeFeo as the firm's new senior director of customer solutions. Pecota previously served as vice president of finance and administration at Signature Bioscience and as a senior director of finance and accounting at Aclara BioSciences. She holds a BSc in economics from San Jose State University.

DeFeo previously worked at Applied Biosystems and Affymetrix. Most recently, he managed the global technical support organization at Quantum Dot. DeFeo holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles.


BioCommerce Briefs

ABI Completes Equity Investment in VisiGen

Applied Biosystems said last week that it has completed its equity investment in VisiGen Biotechnologies.

ABI announced its plans to invest in the company, which is developing next-generation sequencing technology, in October (see BioCommerce Week 11/3/2005). The firm also entered into a scientific collaboration with VisiGen.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed, although ABI's investment hinged on a follow-on investment from VisiGen shareholder SeqWright, which was announced in November.

Invitrogen Inks iProtocol Distribution Deal with Wiley; Dropped from Nasdaq 100

Invitrogen has partnered with John Wiley & Sons to distribute its newly launched iProtocol, Invitrogen said this week.

The agreement enables the publisher to provide free access to "selected" Current Protocols lab research manuals.

iProtocol was designed to provide selected content from Current Protocols titles starting with the "most basic" to the "most advanced" methods for molecular biology, cell biology, immunology, and neuroscience, Invitrogen said.

Separately, the Nasdaq stock exchange said this week that Invitrogen would be removed from the Nasdaq 100 Index, effective with the market opening on Dec. 19. The Index, which contains the 100 largest financial stocks on Nasdaq, made the move as part of its annual re-ranking process.

Invitrogen was one of 12 firms removed from the Index.

Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative Holds First Meeting

The first meeting of the Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative, an alliance of reagent provider Dharmacon and international non-profit biomedical research centers, has concluded, the company said last week.

Dharmacon, a division of Fisher Scientific, established the initiative in order to facilitate the use of its siArray human genome siRNA library by research institutions in order to accelerate drug discovery and development.

According to Dharmacon, the first meeting "focused on developing standardized procedures for data gathering intended to accelerate the group's progress. Participants shared best practices and successes from preliminary human genome-wide siRNA screening and discussed how they might collaborate to accelerate biomedical discovery using the genome-wide library," the company said.

Dharmacon also said that the attendees agreed to "identify standards that will facilitate generation of reproducible intra-laboratory results," an effort termed MIARE, for Minimal Information About RNAi Experiments. They also agreed to seek input from external sources.

The initiative members plan to meet twice a year, Dharmacon noted.

CHI Forms 'Strategic Alliance' with Life Sciences Firms

Cambridge Healthtech Institute said last week that 10 life sciences companies have joined the CHI Strategic Alliance Program.

The companies are Applied Biosystems; Biotage; Fisher's Cellomics and Dharmacon units; Gene Logic; Invitrogen; PA Consulting Group; Sidec Technologies; and Qiagen.

According to CHI, the alliance offers member companies "customized opportunities" to market their businesses, which are based on their yearly level of participation in multiple CHI conferences as sponsors and exhibitors.

Solexa Releases New Sequencer, Expects to Sequence Human Genome in 2006

Solexa will use its newly launched Genome Analysis System to sequence an entire human genome next year and to make the data publicly available, the company said this week.

Solexa said it will choose the DNA from a set of anonymous samples recently used in the International Haplotype Mapping Project. The company said the project will enable researchers to compare its results with other publicly available data.

"In sequencing a human genome, our aim is to demonstrate the performance of the Solexa Genome Analysis System," David Bentley, chief scientist of Solexa, said in a statement.

Solexa said it will release sequence data at "regular intervals" in 2006 "so that researchers can objectively assess the output of the Solexa Genome Analysis System in comparison with previously validated, high-quality genetic data already in the public domain."

Solexa disclosed its plans to sequence the human genome on the day it launched its Genome Analysis System. The tool comprises the Solexa 1G Genetic Analyzer, the Solexa Cluster Station and associated reagents, consumables, and software, and is designed to generate more than 1 billion bases of sequence per run.

CEO John West reiterated earlier comments that the company "expect[s]" to begin accepting orders and ship initial production units during the second quarter of next year.

CeMines Puts Research Tools Business on the Block

CeMines is putting on the block its research tools business and related inventory of polyclonal antibodies, cDNA, and mRNA, the company said this week.

"Our decision is based on the company's final preparations to enter global clinical markets, beginning in Europe, with our CellCorrect product family of high-accuracy molecular diagnostic tests for cancer detection," said Roger Attick, president and CEO of CeMines, in a statement.

In September, the company's Estonian subsidiary filed for CE Mark registration for its CellCorrect product family, a gene expression-based lung cancer diagnostic tool.

The company has already received multiple offers from selected prospective buyers and is actively reviewing pro forma bids, CeMines said. The company expects to make a final decision before the end of this year, but declined to comment on pricing or specific proposals.

According to the company, CeMines entered the research tools business in 2001. The business includes associated trademarks and a multinational customer base.

NCI Offers $3M for Molecular Technology Development

The National Cancer Institute allocated nearly $3 million for research on developing cancer-relevant molecular technologies, according to a request for applications published on the National Institutes of Health web site.

NCI said it expects to award between 10 and 15 new and/or competing continuation grants for periods up to two or three years, depending on the award mechanism.

The institute will consider proposals that involve methods and tools to enable research, including instrumentation, techniques, and devices. Molecular technologies are distinct from resources such as databases, individual reagents, therapeutic agents, and tissue repositories, which are not included under this initiative.

The receipt dates for intents are Jan. 23 and April 26. The applications must be received by Feb. 22 and May 26.

The Scan

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.

Fragile X Syndrome Mutations Found With Comprehensive Testing Method

Researchers in Clinical Chemistry found fragile X syndrome expansions and other FMR1 mutations with ties to the intellectual disability condition using a long-range PCR and long-read sequencing approach.

Team Presents Strategy for Speedy Species Detection in Metagenomic Sequence Data

A computational approach presented in PLOS Computational Biology produced fewer false-positive species identifications in simulated and authentic metagenomic sequences.

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.