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Short Reads: Mar 1, 2012


Roche announced a $5.7 billion hostile takeover bid for Illumina. Under the terms of the proposed deal, Roche would acquire all outstanding Illumina shares for $44.50 each. Roche also announced its picks for Illumina's board of directors, should the deal go through. In response, Illumina's board of directors adopted a poison pill provision.

In a separate announcement, Illumina's board unanimously rejected Roche's offer, calling
it "grossly inadequate."

The Genetics Society of America honored five researchers for their distinguished service: Kathryn Anderson at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Joanne Chory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; the University of California, San Diego's Therese Markow; the DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's David Micklos; and Dana Carroll at the University of Utah.

Abbott is laying off 700 employees, including about 200 in its diagnostics business, as part of a restructuring effort.

Florida State University's Alan Marshall has won the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities' Annual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Biomolecular Technologies.
The US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues is looking into concerns surrounding whole-genome sequencing, and is considering which policies might best enable researchers to use genomic data while protecting individual privacy.

Manohar Furtado, vice president of research and development at Life Technologies, has been appointed to the National Biodefense Science Board, a federal advisory committee for the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute awarded $20 million in new Early Career Scientist grants to 28 researchers around the world. The awards provide each recipient with $650,000 over five years to fund research and equipment purchases.

Sequenom completed its public offering of 14.95 million shares of common stock at $4.15 per share, raising about $62 million.

Martin Tolar will replace Jorge Conde as Knome's CEO. Previously, Tolar was CEO of Normoxys. Conde is to become Knome's chief strategy officer.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced that it will be laying off about 33 percent of its staff.
The University of Chicago's Janet Rowley, Brian Druker from Oregon Health and Science University, and Nicholas Lydon, formerly with Novartis, are the recipients of the 2012 Japan Prize for Healthcare and Medical Technology. They won for their roles in the development of Gleevec.

Marc LePage has been named president and CEO of Genome Quebec. LePage was previously involved in the founding of Genome Canada and was a special advisor on climate change and energy for the Embassy of Canada in the US.

Stephen O'Brien has left the National Cancer Institute's Laboratory of Genomic Diversity to launch a genome bioinformatics program at St. Petersburg University in Russia.

Oxford Gene Technology founder Ed Southern has won a 2011 Medical Research Council Millenium Medal for his work in developing microarray technologies.

Enzo Life Sciences is suing Roche, Life Technologies, and GenProbe, alleging that they are infringing on its patent for using labeled nucleotides as diagnostic tools and therapeutic agents.

Affymetrix plans to launch a high-density chicken array designed to help researchers and breeders.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies has started a research and development group in the US that will focus on solid-state nanopores and detection methods. Ping Xie, a former postdoc at Harvard, is the company's first US-based employee. The company also plans to commercialize its DNA strand sequencing technology this year.

The International Society for Computational Biology has awarded its annual Overton prize to Ziv Bar-Joseph at Carnegie Mellon, and its annual Senior Scientist award to Stockholm University's Gunnar von Heijne.

Life Technologies has acquired Matrix MicroScience, a UK-based manufacturer of automated sample prep systems and consumables for food safety testing.

Dan Zabrowski is now head of Roche Applied Science. He replaces Paul Brown, who had held the position since last September. Previously, Zabrowski was global head of Roche Partnering.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has ended a grant program that would have funded projects examining exome sequencing data for disease-causing variants. NHLBI says its decision was based on budgetary constraints and "competing priorities."

Life Technologies named Alan Sachs head of global research and development and Ronnie Andrews president of medical sciences.

Carolyn Compton is the new president and CEO of the Critical Path Institute. Compton was previously director of the Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research at the US National Cancer Institute. She replaces Raymond Woosley.

A large team of researchers from Spain, the UK, and the US has made public the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel, a genotype-phenotype resource developed for the fruit fly. The resource includes genome sequences, population genomic data, and other information for almost 200 D. melanogaster lines.

Eric Bouvier will be the new CEO of BG Medicine. Previously, Bouvier headed the immunoassay business at BioMerieux. He will take over the post from Pieter Muntendam, who will continue as executive VP and chief medical officer.

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Moffitt Cancer Center, and Florida Hospital plan to use molecular and genomic tools to develop new treatments for cancer and metabolic diseases through the Personalized Medicine Partnership of Florida.

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.