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Short Reads: Aug 25, 2008



The US Senate passed legislation in late May to give the National Institutes of Health an extra $400 million this year to supplement the funding it received under the 2008 budget. The funding was attached to a $156 billion war and veterans' appropriations bill.

NIH awarded $533 million over five years into 14 medical research institutes for its Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium. Harvard, the University of Colorado in Denver, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill won the largest of the grants; other institutions to get funds included Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Boston University, Indiana University School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Scripps Research Institute, and others.

Invitrogen will buy Applied Biosystems for $6.7 billion in a cash and stock transaction. The acquisition is expected to close this fall. 

Europe is putting together the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure, a €5 million human biobank resource that will link human samples from many of Europe's clinical and research institutions into a shared resource. The project was funded by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced 56 new investigators, including a number from this community: Jim Collins, Michael Eisen, Michael Elowitz, David Sabatini, and Phillip Zamore are just a few.

Francine Kauffmann and Anne Cambon-Thomsen from France's Inserm proposed on behalf of a collection of European research networks that the international research community develop an identification scheme for biobanks that would be similar to the International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, code used in book publishing. The note appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute issued "Interpretive Criteria for Identification of Bacteria and Fungi by DNA Target Sequencing," a guidance to help researchers classify microorganisms using DNA sequencing.

NextGen Sciences named Ruth Van Bogelen as director of biomarkers and proteomics, and also appointed Walid Qoronfleh as VP of business development. Van Bogelen was previously director of proteomics R&D at Pfizer. Qoronfleh was founder and managing director of Q3 Consulting Group.

Barbara Caulfield resigned her role as executive VP and general counsel at Affymetrix and left the company in June to take a position with a private law firm. She will continue to serve as secretary to Affy's board of directors.

Consumer genomics firm 23andMe will collaborate with the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center in an effort aimed at advancing methods for clinical and epidemiological research into Parkinson's disease. Under the collaboration, which is receiving financial support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, patients of the Parkinson's Institute will voluntarily enroll in 23andMe's Personal Genome Service. 23andMe anticipates that the DNA submitted for genomic scanning will generate more than 580,000 data points per patient.

Codon Devices hired Kareem Saad to be VP of marketing and business development, a new position at the company. Saad was CEO at Gulfstream Bioinformatics and GM of business development for TransMed Partners, both healthcare IT companies.

Affymetrix expects to realize restructuring charges of $15.4 million for fiscal year 2008 as part of its efforts to relocate the majority of its probe array manufacturing from California to Singapore.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added five new members to its genomics working group: Doug Campos-Outcalt of the University of Arizona's College of Medicine; Roger Klein of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute; Kenneth Offit of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Stephen Pauker of Tufts Medical Center; and David Veenstra of the University of Washington.

The National Science Foundation plans to award $20 million per year for bioinformatics projects during the next three years through its Advances in Biological Informatics program. Proposals are due the second Tuesday in August through 2010.

Jeff Capello resigned from his post as CFO at Perkin-Elmer. He will be replaced on an interim basis by Michael Battles, the company's vice president and controller.
Thermo Fisher Scientific promoted Marc Casper, formerly president of analytical technologies, to the post of chief operating officer.

Sigma-Aldrich's chief administrative officer and chief financial officer Michael Hogan plans to retire this summer, after the company names his successor.

The Scan

Team Tracks Down Potential Blood Plasma Markers Linked to Heart Failure in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Researchers in BMC Genomics found 10 differentially expressed proteins or metabolites that marked atrial fibrillation with heart failure cases.

Study Points to Synonymous Mutation Effects on E. Coli Enzyme Activity

Researchers in Nature Chemistry saw signs of enzyme activity shifts in the presence of synonymous mutations in a multiscale modeling analysis of three Escherichia coli genes.

Team Outlines Paternal Sample-Free Single-Gene Approach for Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening

With data for nearly 9,200 pregnant individuals, researchers in Genetics in Medicine demonstrate the feasibility of their carrier screening and reflex single-gene non-invasive prenatal screening approach.

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.