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Short Reads: Nov 6, 2006 (rev. 1)


The European Molecular Biology Laboratory opened a new systems biology center in Barcelona, Spain, in conjunction with the Center for Genomic Regulation and the Spanish Ministry for Education and Science. The EMBL/CRG Research Unit in Systems Biology, to be led by Luis Serrano, will receive €12.7 million over the next nine years from the education and science ministry.  

Bio-Rad bought the medical diagnostics business of Provalis for around $3 million in cash. The UK-based business sells point-of-care diagnostic products for chronic disease management of diabetes and osteoporosis.  

Caliper Life Sciences hired Peter Lassota as divisional vice president of oncology. Lassota was last at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, where he led the company’s US oncology pharmacology unit.  

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology will use VisEn Medical’s portfolio of in vivo fluorescence probes and fluorescence molecular tomography imaging system in its molecular imaging programs. VisEn’s tools are designed to identify, characterize, and quantify a range of biological phenomena in vivo, including known molecular activities underlying disease states such as cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and bone disease.  

The US NIH awarded almost $52 million to launch the Knockout Mouse Project, a comprehensive resource of knockout mutations in the mouse genome. Participants on the project include Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and Jackson Laboratory, among others.  

Partners HealthCare signed a three-year translational research collaboration with Affymetrix to develop microarray-based diagnostics tests. The partners estimate that it may take a year to develop the first chip-based diagnostic test for use in the CLIA-approved lab. The CLIA-validated tests will first be offered to patients in the Partners HealthCare system.  

Peter Tolias, previously VP at Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, joined Rosetta Genomics as vice president of corporate development and head of US operations.  

Is it Scripps envy, or just good retirement planning? The Burnham Institute for Medical Research announced plans to establish a research facility in Orlando, Fla., giving the California-based nonprofit a presence on both US coasts. The Orlando operation would be a 300-person institution that would help the Burnham expand its capabilities in chemistry, pharmacology, and functional genomics in its study of cancer, degenerative diseases, and infectious diseases.  

Invitrogen announced plans to acquire cell-based assay company Sentigen Holding for around $25.9 million in cash. The company’s technology provides an additional way to screen G-protein coupled receptors and other important drug target classes.  

A. Keith Dunker is the new director of the bioinformatics program at the School of Informatics for the joint program by Indiana University and Purdue University. Dunker is a professor of biochemistry and of molecular biology at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Microchip Biotechnologies completed a series A investment round worth $4.5 million. The funding, led by venture capital firms In-Q-Tel and RONA Syndicates, will go toward development of portable forensics devices for DNA typing.  

Genetix Group expects to acquire Applied Imaging, a maker of automated imaging and image-analysis systems, for $18.3 million in cash. Genetix designs, develops, and manufactures technologies involved in a wide array of cell screening, genomic, and proteomic applications.  

New York-based Cognia will add 50 jobs to its UK operations by the end of the year. The UK group is part of a three-year text-mining collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.

NIH announced that it might harmonize the genome-wide association studies it funds by banking all genotypic and phenotypic data from these studies into a central government repository. The proposed policy would ask NIH-funded investigators performing genome-wide association studies to “quickly submit” subjects’ genotypes and “relevant phenotypes” to a centralized NIH data repository.  

Michael Monko is the new senior veep of sales and marketing for Sequenom. Monko was previously at Upstate and Chemicon, and he also spent 19 years at Invitrogen.  

Celera Genomics received $900,000 from the US NIH to develop and commercialize an in vitro diagnostic to detect the A/H5 influenza virus. Celera expects the test to run on Abbott's new m2000 system for detecting and monitoring infectious diseases and use automated real-time PCR technology from Applied Biosystems.  

Rich Keffer headed to Sigma-Aldrich as corporate vice president, general counsel, and secretary. He has 25 years of corporate legal experience from companies in the consumer products, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.  

Deborah Cabin joined the McLaughlin Research Institute in Great Falls, Mont., after a postdoc stint at NHGRI. Cabin is using mouse models to study Parkinson's disease.

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.