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Short Reads: Mar 30, 2007


NIH says it will award 14 grants worth up to $1.5 million apiece to fund biomedical or behavioral research conducted by new investigators. The New Innovator Award intends to promote the work of young scientists who have received their doctoral degree or medical internship or residency in or after 1997. Applications are due May 27.

Codon Devices, Duke University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have sued Blue Heron Biotechnology for allegedly infringing five US patents that Codon licensed exclusively from the universities. The suit claims that Blue Heron is infringing four Duke patents used to map gene mutations, manipulate genes, and fractionate DNA molecules.

Ismail Kola was hired to be CSO and senior vice president of discovery research at the Schering-Plough Research Institute, replacing Catherine Strader, who is now senior vice president of science and technology. Kola will be responsible for a 1,000-person team of researchers in the US and Italy, and Strader will be involved in external science and technology enterprises such as business development and licensing.

Following its acquisition of Tm Bioscience, Luminex changed the Canadian company’s name to Luminex Molecular Diagnostics. CytRx subsidiary RXi Pharmaceuticals has hired Pamela Pavco as vice president of pharmaceutical development. Pavco spent 14 years at CytRx and Sirna Therapeutics, where she worked to develop the company’s RNAi drug program.

Applied Biosystems opened a new lab, office, and display space in Shanghai to support customers in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia Pacific Application Support Center, a 5,400-square-foot facility, is also expected to enhance collaborations with the Chinese government.

At an American Association for Clinical Chemistry meeting, FDA’s Larry Lesko said that molecular diagnostic companies who want physicians to prescribe their products should emulate pharma’s model of reaching out directly to MDs.

Joel Campbell was named vice president and general manager for US operations at Definiens, an image-analysis company based in Germany.

The X Prize Foundation appointed high-tech executive and entrepreneur Marc Hodosh to lead the $10 million Archon X Prize for Genomics. Hodosh formerly worked at facial-recognition company ID One. The X Prize Foundation plans to award $10 million to the first group to sequence 100 diploid human genomes in 10 days for $1 million.

Sigma-Aldrich has initiated a $200 million credit facility in Europe that will mature in seven years. The company plans to use the cash from the multi-currency revolving facility in its European operations for general purposes, including possible acquisitions.

John Stark is the new executive director for ClinXus, a western-Michigan nonprofit promoting the region as a locale for pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Stark formerly was a sales manager at Affymetrix.

According to CEO Thomas Bologna, Orchid Cellmark is exploring acquisition opportunities as a reorganization that started last year gains ground.

Roche has named Warwick Bedwell, formerly general manager for Roche Philippines, as vice president and global head of business development of pharma partnering. He has also worked with Schering-Plough in Australia and in Asia.

The molecular diagnostics subsidiary of CombiMatrix signed two partnerships for its newly launched BAC-array comparative genomic hybridization “Technical Only Program.” According to the terms, the partners will take orders and receive samples, but all of the technical lab testing will be conducted at CMDX’s facilities. The data will be delivered to the partner electronically, who will interpret the information.

 James Jordan is the new vice president and chief investment officer at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, a biotech growth and investment group designed to facilitate growth in research, technology, and commercialization of biotech enterprises.

Integrated Genomics sued former employees Nikos Kyrpides and Natala Ivanova for allegedly breaching their contracts by helping their new employer, the Joint Genome Institute, develop a technology that would complete with IG’s ERGO genomic-analysis software.

Innogenetics announced that a US federal appeals court has rejected a request by Abbott Laboratories to postpone an injunction prohibiting it from selling certain hepatitis C technology until the drug maker has had a chance to appeal the original verdict. In January, a court permanently barred Abbott from selling, using, or exporting any products that infringe the Innogenetics patent covering a method of genotyping the hepatitis C virus.

OncoMethylome Sciences, a Belgian company developing non-invasive molecular methylation screening tests, has expanded its lab in Amsterdam by leasing an extra 1,000 square meters of lab space and hiring 10 new scientists. The expansion will support clinical trials for the company’s colorectal cancer program.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.