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Short Reads: Apr 29, 2007


Novartis is breaking up the Genome & Proteome Sciences program within the Cambridge, Mass.-based Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in order to restructure and refocus its programs and resources. The company will continue ongoing projects, but most of the staff and programs will be absorbed by other units within the pharma.

Agilent Technologies plans to acquire Stratagene for about $246 million in cash, representing a 28 percent premium above Stratagene’s stock price the day before the acquisition was announced.

Barbara Alving has been named director of the National Center for Research Resources, where she’s been the acting director since 2005. Alving has worked as a public health officer for the US Food and Drug Administration on the NIH campus, among other posts.

Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin have formed a company called Theranostics Health to market a protein microarray technology the scientists co-developed. The company will help clinicians and drug makers better target cancer treatments, they say.

Ciphergen Biosystems and its outside auditor are concerned that the company may not be able to continue operations, according to the annual report filed with the SEC.

The J. Craig Venter Institute has reorganized the Institute for Genomic Research and the Center for the Advancement of Genomics into a pack of more tightly focused units. The institute will now consist of 10 distinct research groups: Genomic Medicine, Infectious Disease, Synthetic Biology & Bioenergy, Plant Genomics, Microbial & Environmental Genomics, Pathogen Functional Genomics, Applied Bioinformatics, Research Informatics, Software Engineering, and a Policy Center.

Bionas, an in vitro cellular-profiling company, has raised €2.1 million ($2.8 million) in financing from two private companies, and received an undisclosed amount of development funding from two German government agencies. Bionas says it will use the money to fund R&D and to expand its sales and marketing efforts in the US and Europe.

Venture capital investment in the genomics, bioinformatics, and proteomics segments increased five-fold during the fourth quarter of 2006 over the same period in 2005. VCs invested around $140 million in genome tool and technology companies in the final quarter of 2006, nearly five times the $31.6 million they invested in the same period of 2005. At the same time, venture funding for bioinformatics businesses declined 4.4 percent to $13 million from $13.6 million in the same quarter in 2005.

Researchers sequenced the genome of the rhesus macaque, the third primate genome to be sequenced. The 2.87 Gb genome is about 97.5 percent similar to the human genome, they concluded.

Illumina plans to shutter its manufacturing operations in Wallingford, Conn., and fold some of the assets from the space into its San Diego facilities. The site was originally established in connection with the acquisition of CyVera.

ActiveSight has hired Vicki Nienaber as its chief scientific officer. She was previously senior director of lead discovery and crystallography at SGX Pharmaceuticals, and before that she helped invent fragment-based screening and crystal sample-handling techniques at Abbott Laboratories.

John DelliSanti was named executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Caliper Life Sciences. DelliSanti previously led Invitrogen’s American commercial operations, and has worked at Accelrys, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and Hitachi Instruments.

The University of Rhode Island has broken ground on a $60 million biotech center. The Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, a 140,000-square-foot facility that will support genomics, proteomics, and DNA sequencing, marks the largest academic building project in the school’s history.

Robert Schnabel will take over as dean of Indiana University’s School of Informatics, once his posting is approved by the university’s trustees. Schnabel replaces Michael Dunn, who founded the IU informatics school and who plans to retire from the position at the end of June.

Pharsight promoted Dan Weiner to the post of chief technology officer and hired Dana Cambra as vice president of R&D.

The Malaysian Genome Resource Center and state-owned university Unisel will form a bioinformatics research initiative aimed at enhancing the school’s bioinformatics programs, allowing students to use the SynaBASE tool.

Thermo Fisher Scientific completed the sale of its Genevac business to Riverlake Equity Partners. The sale was a requirement from the Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission before Fisher Scientific could officially merge with Thermo Electron.

Qiagen said it will buy the sample-separation technology company eGene in a cash and stock deal valued at around $34 million. eGene, based in Irvine, Calif., sells a multi-channel sample separation and analysis solution that includes software and a range of consumable cartridges. Qiagen expects the acquisition will contribute revenues of around $2 million in the second half of this year and revenues of $7 million to $9 million in 2008.

The Scan

Back as Director

A court has reinstated Nicole Boivin as director of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Science reports.

Research, But Implementation?

Francis Collins reflects on his years as the director of the US National Institutes of Health with NPR.

For the False Negatives

The Guardian writes that the UK Health Security Agency is considering legal action against the lab that reported thousands of false negative COVID-19 test results.

Genome Biology Papers Present Epigenetics Benchmarking Resource, Genomic Architecture Maps of Peanuts, More

In Genome Biology this week: DNA methylation data for seven reference cell lines, three-dimensional genome architecture maps of peanut lines, and more.