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Short Reads: Aug 1, 2001 (rev. 1)

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Celera Genomics announced its imminent stock-for-stock acquisition of Axys Pharmaceuticals, which it expects will propel its drive into drug discovery.

 

Lion, at least, isn’t thrilled at the news — IBM and Spotfire are collaborating to combine software and data management resources. Aventis will be the first customer.

 

Yet another soul yearning to leave Indianapolis? Not quite. Eli Lilly, working in conjunction with the Singapore Economic Development Board, will set up a systems biology R&D center in Singapore. Approximately 50 scientists and IT people will work there beginning in 2002, and they’re expected to have $140 million for five years of research.

 

Those counting their stocks at Rosetta can rest easy. The Merck acquisition cleared its first hurdle, the 30-day waiting period required by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

Galapagos Genomics and Bayer joined forces in a functional genomics alliance for asthma research. Galapagos CEO Onno van de Stolpe calls this a milestone for his company because it’s the first deal with a pharma.

 

Students, prepare yourselves (and come up with a name that starts with ‘S’). The new S-Star Consortium will offer an online bioinformatics education program starting Q3 this year. Member schools are: Stanford University, University of Uppsala, Karolinska Institute, National University of Singapore, University of Sydney, and the University of Western Cape. The name derives from their quirky commonality — all are from universities, cities, or countries that begin with the letter S.

 

Quark Biotech has been making noise from all corners of the globe. Japanese drug firm Fujisawa recently made an equity investment in the company. Quark announced a research collaboration with Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and will move its headquarters to the Ohio city. Research facilities remain in Chicago and Israel.

 

A tropical storm in early June caused extensive flood damage to Baylor College of Medicine, among others. Researchers there believe the deaths of thousands of lab animals could have set them back months or even years.

Roche Diagnostics allied with CombiMatrix, a subsidiary of Acacia Research. The 15-year deal stipulates that Roche will buy, sell, and use the company’s biochips.

 

They might as well have turned into pumpkins. Members of the human gene therapeutic consortium raced against time to extract all possible information from the Human Genome Sciences database before the June 30 deadline, at which

time all data reverted to HGS.

 

Everyone wants to get in on it: Caprion, Sun, Oracle, and CGI have announced a collaboration to build and operate a bioinformatics platform for proteomic disease modeling, which Caprion will sell.

WANTED: Comprehensive, searchable database of genomics companies. John Weinstein of the National Cancer Institute has been asking around to see if anyone has, or cares to develop, such a product, which would for instance help people in the field find all the companies with a certain specialty. “Presumably, someone in the private sector would have to find a way to make a profit off of doing it,” he says. Takers?

 

At these prices, they are giving it away. This month, Incyte Genomics will announce the winner of its third annual $100,000 discovery grant. The prize? Use of Incyte’s custom sequencing service.

First Celera had the most powerful civilian supercomputer. Then it was GeneProt. Now it’s NuTec, an Atlanta firm that will use its 7.5 teraflop machine to examine relationships among genes and to combine genome data with ADME knowledge. CEO Anthony Shuker told GT in June that the massively parallel IBM computer is about two-thirds operational. Constructing it, he says, is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. By the time they’re done, they’ll have to start all over again.

 

Genomics legends Lee Hood and David Galas provided seed funding for Blue Heron Biotechnology, a two-year-old Bothell, Wash., firm that emerged recently from stealth mode to launch its GeneMaker gene synthesis service. CEO Peter Nicholson ran Amgen’s venture capital program for six years. Question is, should he worry about the fact that the CEO’s office at Hood and Galas’ last Bothell business, Darwin Molecular, had a revolving door?