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Short Reads: May 3, 2010


US President Barack Obama announced new members of his Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The panel will be led by the University of Pennsylvania's Amy Gutmann, and also includes the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center's Christine Grady, the University of California, San Francisco's Stephen Hauser, and Harvard Medical School's Raju Kucherlapati.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory opened a new conference center 60 miles west of Shanghai. The new Suzhou Dushu Lake Conference Center will host 10 events as well as smaller meetings and a summer school program on computational and cognitive neuroscience.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is partnering with a group of hospitals to test, through a clinical trial, a warfarin-dosing formula that takes three genetic variants into account. This five-year, $3.7 million Genetics Informatics Trial of Warfarin is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Among the recipients of the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research's 2010 scholar grants are Ohio State University's Nicola Valieri, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Alex Kimmelman, and the -University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Michael Major.

PerkinElmer is purchasing Signature Genomic Laboratories for an undisclosed sum. The company says this will strengthen its genetic testing capabilities. Signature provides diagnostic cytogenetic testing as well as microarray-based diagnostic testing.

Autism Speaks, the autism advocacy group, announced that it will be giving out grants totaling $5.2 million, some of which will fund genomics and proteomics studies. Almost $900,000 will go to two three-year studies involving genomics and proteomics, including a project searching for biomarkers to diagnose autism spectrum disorders earlier.

The US Food and Drug Administration warned ParagonDx that four of its analyte-specific reagent probes are devices, and require premarket approval from the FDA. The four variants, CYP2C9*2, CYP2C9*3, VKORC1 1173, and VKORC1 3730, are commonly measured in genetic tests that determine warfarin sensitivity.

Ambry Genetics and RainDance Technologies teamed up to add RainDance's RDT 1000 sequence enrichment product to Ambry's next-gen sequencing services.

Genetic Technologies has acquired some of shuttered Perlegen Sciences' assets, including its BrevaGen breast cancer risk test.

The law firm Ropes & Gray, which is being sued by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, asked the court to dismiss the case. The firm had been hired by the lab to prosecute RNAi-related patent applications covering the work of CSHL investigator Greg Hannon. CSHL sued the firm and one of its former attorneys for allegedly handling the applications improperly. The firm says the complaint should be dismissed because the legal malpractice claim is "speculative and implausible" and is "flatly contradicted."

Frank Pitzer is the new CEO of Roche NimbleGen. Pitzer has been with Roche for more than eight years, most recently as head of divisional quality and regulatory affairs at Roche Diagnostics.

Companion Diagnostics is relocating to Indiana to work with the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, and others in the state to develop new diagnostic tools.

AuraSense, a company recently established by Chad Mirkin that focuses on engineered nanoparticles as therapeutics, has named the members of its advisory board. They include: Orexigen Therapeutics' Mark Booth, the University of Miami's William O'Neill, Northwestern University's Erik Sontheimer, and others.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology says that the 3.2 percent proposed funding increase for the National Institutes of Health in the White House's 2011 budget proposal is not enough to offset the rising cost of research. FASEB recommended that Congress appropriate $37 billion to NIH, instead of the $32.9 billion recommended in the budget.

CLC Bio is teaming with Ion Torrent to expand its high-throughput sequencing support. This partnership will allow data from Ion Torrent's Personal Genome Machine to flow into CLC's Genomics Workbench or Genomics Server.

Greg Simon, the senior vice president for worldwide policy at Pfizer, is to receive Genetic Alliance's Art of Advocacy Award.

RXi Pharmaceuticals and miRagen Therapeutics are working together to develop microRNA-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease. As part of this collaboration, they will study the utility of RXi's rxRNA technology against miRNA targets of interest to miRagen.

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute's CEO John Reed is stepping down as the institute's president. Kristiina Vuori will replace him.

The Scan

For Better Odds

Bloomberg reports that a child has been born following polygenic risk score screening as an embryo.

Booster Decision Expected

The New York Times reports the US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine this week for individuals over 65 or at high risk.

Snipping HIV Out

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple University researchers are to test a gene-editing approach for treating HIV.

PLOS Papers on Cancer Risk Scores, Typhoid Fever in Colombia, Streptococcus Protection

In PLOS this week: application of cancer polygenic risk scores across ancestries, genetic diversity of typhoid fever-causing Salmonella, and more.