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Short Reads: Apr 28, 2008


The National Institutes of Health is asking for public comments on a new policy that would require grantees to publish the results of their studies in its public access forum. Comments regarding implementation of the Public Access Policy are open through May 31 at the NIH website.

HHMI announced that Thomas Cech, its president since 2000, will give up his post in the spring of 2009. Cech has been on faculty at the University of Colorado since 1978 and was named an HHMI investigator in 1988.

DNA analysis firm Bio- Nanomatrix has secured $5.1 million in series A venture financing. The funding round included leader Battelle Ventures and also KT Venture Group, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and 21 Ventures. BioNanomatrix is developing nanoscale single-molecule imaging and analytic platforms with applications in genome analysis and clinical diagnostics.

Agendia named Richard Bender its VP and chief medical officer. He was formerly medical director in oncology at Quest Diagnostics, and has been an instructor at the UCLA School of Medicine.

Pacific Biomarkers appointed Tara Hennen, a member of the company's science and technology group, to be manager of its Biomarker Lab Services.
Codon Devices and Blue Heron Technology settled a patent infringement suit filed last year by Codon against Blue Heron. As part of the settlement, Codon granted Blue Heron a perpetual, fully paid sublicense to continue to use error correction technology employed in its gene synthesis activities.

The NIH's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases will fund two to four genome-wide association studies for a combined $1 million or so per year from 2009 to 2011. The projects will use existing genetic and clinical data rather than finding new subjects.
John Sherwin, formerly chief of the Genetic Disease Branch for the State of California's prenatal and newborn screening program, is now director of laboratory operations for PerkinElmer's genetic screening business. Sherwin has been president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry and the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry.

Monogram Biosciences promoted Gordon Parry to VP of research and development, oncology, from the role of senior director of the same department. In the past, Parry was head of cancer research at Berlex Biosciences. He also was a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer plans to launch a $1.25 million project to develop antibodies for biomarker targets for pancreatic cancer. The project involves a consortium of these four organizations: Canary Foundation, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of California at San Francisco, and Van Andel Research Institute.
Mark Day, who previously worked on developing treatments for schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease at Wyeth Neuroscience and Glaxo-SmithKline, is now senior director of cognitive neuroscience at PsychoGenics.

PerkinElmer opened a new facility in Singapore that will focus on developing tools for drug discovery, environmental monitoring, food safety testing, and sustainable energy. The company said it views Asia-Pacific as a "key growth region" for pharmaceutical research, neonatal and prenatal screening, and environmental monitoring.

Scientists from the Forsyth Institute and Kings College, London, announced a new tool for those interested in mouth microbes: the Human Oral Microbiome Database, a resource that will help researchers identify bacteria based on 16S rRNA sequence data and perform analysis of that data.

Eppendorf filed two patent suits against Bio-Rad Laboratories. One alleges patent infringement against Bio-Rad and its MJ Research subsidiary based on microtiter plates, and the other alleges the same for certain thermal cycler products.

The University of Edinburgh entered into a collaboration with the IBM Watson Research Center and the National Physical Laboratory in Middlesex to use supercomputers to study surface proteins of HIV-1 with the goal of developing drugs that inhibit HIV infection.

Peter McAree has been promoted to senior VP and CFO at Caliper Life Sciences, as current CFO Thomas Higgins plans to step down.

DeCode Genetics and US Preventive Medicine signed a letter of intent to collaborate on offering genetic testing to US Preventive Medicine customers.

Matthew Pando and John Jaskowiak will join ExonHit Therapeutics' management board, and Philippe Rousseau will become president of that board until the company appoints a new CEO. Jaskowiak started with the company in 2006, and was recently appointed head of molecular diagnostics and genomic services. Pando came to the company in 2002, and recently was named head of its therapeutics unit.

The Scan

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.

Family Genetic Risk Score Linked to Diagnostic Trajectory in Psychiatric Disorders

Researchers in JAMA Psychiatry find ties between high or low family genetic risk scores and diagnostic stability or change in four major psychiatric disorders over time.

Study Questions Existence of Fetal Microbiome

A study appearing in Nature this week suggests that the reported fetal microbiome might be the result of sample contamination.

Fruit Fly Study Explores Gut Microbiome Effects on Circadian Rhythm

With gut microbiome and gene expression experiments, researchers in PNAS see signs that the microbiome contributes to circadian rhythm synchronicity and stability in fruit flies.