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Short Reads: Mar 1, 2007


NIH announced that Alan Krensky, former professor of pediatrics at Stanford University, will be the first deputy director for the Office of Portfolio Analysis  and Strategic Initiatives.

The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, headed by the Mayo Clinic, has opened a $22 million genomics and bioinformatics facility to house equipment as well as lab and conference space for the group.

Genizon raised CA$10 million in equity financing from Pfizer and Dutch venture capital company BTF. Genizon, formerly known as Galileo Genomics, said the funding was about evenly split between the investors.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse is seeking nominations for SNPs to include in a custom microarray platform it is designing to study the genetics and pharmacogenetics of drug abuse, addiction, and related mental disorders. The deadline for responses is March 30.

The European Union has granted €500,000 to fund a series of conferences this year about genomics and disease. The funding will be used by the Marie Curie Genomic Architecture in Relation to Disease program to hold three conferences and two workshops on genomics and disease issues in Amsterdam, Madrid, Edinburgh, Helsinki, and Braga, Portugal.

Stratagene has agreed to pay $10.75 million to Third Wave Technologies to settle a patent-infringement suit related to PCR technology. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2004, was decided in Third Wave’s favor; Stratagene followed with an appeal. In addition to the payment, the firms have agreed to a nine-month stay on further litigation.

Gene Myers joined the scientific advisory board of Helicos BioSciences. Myers, a professor at HHMI's Janelia Farm, has formerly had positions at the University of California, Berkeley, and Celera, among others.

NSF granted $1.8 million to a research project led by Cornell University to continue sequencing the tomato genome and to create a database of genomic sequences and information on the tomato and related plants. The International Tomato Sequencing Project began with $4 million in 2004 and is a first step toward the International Solanaceae Genomics Project Genomics Network database, which will include research on the nightshade family.

The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research will fork over €8.8 million to build the Integrated Facilities for Structural Biology, a lab for protein and biomolecular analysis at the German Synchrotron Research Center in Hamburg. EMBL expects the facility to be available by 2010.

NHGRI issued an SBIR grant to Blueshift Biotechnologies and Althea Technologies to combine their products for gene expression profiling. The companies will use the funding to combine Blueshift’s high-throughput laser scanner with Althea’s multiplexed PCR methods to enable quantitative gene expression profiling in a high-throughput platform.

The US FDA promoted Janet Woodcock from deputy commissioner to chief medical officer, a newly created position. Woodcock will be responsible for scientific and planning-related operations, including organizing, directing, staffing, and coordinating.

David Deems, who was a vice president at Predicant Biosciences and has also worked at Exact Sciences, Union Biometrica, and BD Biosciences, joins Xceed Molecular as its president.

Accelrys announced a partnership with Pfizer to develop cheminformatic software. Pfizer will join the Accelrys Enterprise Cheminformatic Consortium, which is a three-year project beginning this year. In addition to the software, Accelrys says the duo will collaborate on nanotechnology, combinatorial chemistry, and catalysis.

Michael Pellini joins the life sciences group at Safeguard Scientifics as an executive in residence. Pellini was CEO of Genomics Collaborative and most recently COO of Lakewood Pathology Associates.

Metabolon named three new execs: Tim Germann from US Genomics is the new vice president of sales; Bruce Mcreedy, formerly of LabCorp, is VP of strategic development; and Dan Stevens from Silicon Graphics is the director of marketing.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology released funding recommendations for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Agriculture. The report, which has been submitted to US Congress, calls for: NIH funding to be increased to combat inflation; NSF’s budget to be doubled over the next 10 years; a hike of nearly 40 percent in the USDA’s allocation for the Agriculture Research Service; and about 6 percent more for the DOE than the requested appropriation.

Health Discovery says it has filed new patent applications for a newly discovered biomarker expression signature for prostate cancer. The signature was demonstrated to have a high degree of accuracy, according to the company.

ClearSpeed Technology is part of a $1.4 million contract to provide the first national supercomputer to South Africa’s Centre for High Performance Computing. Funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology and supplied by IBM, the supercomputer was deployed in late January.

The Scan

Genetic Testing Approach Explores Origins of Blastocyst Aneuploidy

Investigators in AJHG distinguish between aneuploidy events related to meiotic missegregation in haploid cells and those involving post-zygotic mitotic errors and mosaicism.

Study Looks at Parent Uncertainties After Children's Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Diagnoses

A qualitative study in EJHG looks at personal, practical, scientific, and existential uncertainties in parents as their children go through SCID diagnoses, treatment, and post-treatment stages.

Antimicrobial Resistance Study Highlights Key Protein Domains

By screening diverse versions of an outer membrane porin protein in Vibrio cholerae, researchers in PLOS Genetics flagged protein domain regions influencing antimicrobial resistance.

Latent HIV Found in White Blood Cells of Individuals on Long-Term Treatments

Researchers in Nature Microbiology find HIV genetic material in monocyte white blood cells and in macrophages that differentiated from them in individuals on HIV-suppressive treatment.