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Short Reads: Nov 6, 2006


The Wellcome Trust announced the establishment of UK PubMed Central, a free online archive of peer-reviewed medical and life science research papers. The database, which is set to launch in January 2007, will be operated by the British Library, the University of Manchester, and the European Bioinformatics Institute under a contract from the Wellcome Trust and eight other UK-based research funders.

A jury decided that Stratagene should pay Invitrogen nearly $8 million in damages for infringing its patents. The jury determined that Invitrogen’s patent involving a process for developing competent cell products is valid and that Stratagene infringed that patent by making and selling its competent E. coli cell products. The judge has yet to make a final judgment, and Stratagene may appeal the verdict.

The US Department of Energy will spend $250 million in the next few years to help create two bioenergy research centers that will use systems biology and other methods to accelerate research on cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels. Universities, national labs, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are expected to compete for the funding.

Shanghai Genomics and Centocor have set up a drug discovery collaboration, initially for a period of a year and a half, to investigate inflammatory signaling pathways.

The US Food and Drug Administration appointed Mark Goldberger as medical director for emerging and pandemic threat preparedness in its Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Richard Eglen, formerly of DiscoveRx, has signed on at PerkinElmer to fill the newly created position of vice president and general manager for discovery and research reagents.

Tim Humphreys, a professor in the medical school at the University of Hawaii, has been chosen to head up the new Center for Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics at the university.

The US Army’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded Luminex a 12-month, $300,000 grant to develop its chip-scale xMAP technology for biodefense applications.

Cecil Pickett, formerly senior vice president at Schering-Plough and president of the Schering-Plough Research Institute, has signed on to be Biogen’s president of R&D.

David King will succeed Thomas MacMahon as CEO of LabCorp, effective January 1 of next year. King will also join the board of directors.

Proteomics technology firm Caprion Pharmaceuticals withdrew its initial public offering this summer due to “adverse market conditions,” according to the company.

Michael Morgan is the new chief scientific officer of Genome Canada, the organization announced. Morgan is former CEO of the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus.

LI-COR Biosciences is offering $1.75 million in Genomics Education Matching Funds to high schools, colleges, and universities to help them buy the firm’s DNA sequencing systems for under-graduates studying molecular biology and related fields.

HistoRx has named John Tonkinson as vice president of business development. Tonkinson was recently director of business development at Epitome BioSystems, and before that he was director of sales and scientific services at Schleicher & Schuell BioScience.

South Carolina’s academic review board approved Clemson University’s request to create an endowed chair in nutrigenomics, allocating $2 million for the endowment. The catch: Clemson must raise matching funds from the private sector. The chair will focus on the effects of plant foods on gene expression in obesity and investigate how nutrients interact with the human genome on the molecular level.

Exagen Diagnostics added three director-level positions with John Adair from Immucor, now director of quality; Petra Schwartz, director of human resources; and John Burns, lead software architect.

The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is working on recommendations for “dual use” research. That is, research that “can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied by others to pose a threat to public health, agriculture, plants, animals, the environment, or material.”

Evotec Technologies sold the core of its single molecule detection technology and transferred or licensed the related IP to Olympus. The Evotec division and Olympus previously collaborated on the MF20 molecular interaction analytical system.

NanoDetection Technology will work with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a biochip-based onsite avian influenza detection system.

Gene Logic announced a restructuring of its genomics division, which will result in cutting about 80 jobs in the unit. The company said this move would ultimately save more than $8 million per year.

Christophe Mérieux, who served as bioMérieux’s vice president of research and development, died July 14 after a heart attack. He was 39 and head of Transgène, the company’s Strausbourg-based subsidiary.

The Scan

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.