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Short Reads: Oct 1, 2010


Oil giant BP will fund metagenomics research at Nova Southeastern University to determine the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on microbes and sponges in the Gulf of Mexico. The $10 million project will include DNA and microbial analyses to measure the spill's impact on marine sponge and microbe communities, as well as fish and coral communities.

Helicos Biosciences has filed a suit against Pacific Biosciences alleging that PacBio infringed on four of its patents. The patents cover Helicos' sequencing-by-synthesis methods and Helicos says that PacBio is infringing on them by manufacturing and selling instruments with its Single Molecule Real Time DNA sequencing technology. PacBio has said the claim is without merit.

Daniel Kastner is the new scientific director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Previously, Kastner was the clinical director and the director of translational research at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Roche will begin a cost-cutting initiative, called the "Group-wide Operational Excellence Initiative," in 2011. The company says this is in response to pressure to curtail health care costs.

Life Technologies announced that it will acquire sequencing technologies startup Ion Torrent Systems for $375 million in cash and stock. The total value of the deal could become $725 million if certain technical and time-based milestones are met.

The Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base, a free, curated pharmacogenomics database hosted by Stanford University, is to receive $15 million over the next five years from NIH to develop data-mining tools.

The BioServe Network of academic, medical, and industry biosample repositories was launched recently and it aims to give researchers access to high-quality samples for most major diseases. Inaugural members include Fox Chase Cancer Center, the Fairbanks Institute for Healthy Communities, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Windber Research Institute.

Promise Advanced Proteomics, a French fee-for-service proteomics firm, has launched. It is a spinout of the Exploring the Dynamics of Proteomes laboratory at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission, and Université Joseph Fourier.

Scott Garrett resigned as chairman, president, and CEO of Beckman Coulter. J. Robert Hurley has been named interim president and CEO while Glenn Schafer has been appointed as the non-executive chairman. A search for a full-time successor is underway.

BGI and the University of Copenhagen signed an agreement to cooperate in future research on the role of genes in cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Complete Genomics and SAICFrederick have teamed up to identify and validate somatic mutations from 50 pediatric cancer cases. The team hopes to identify patterns of tumorigenesis, which could lead to improved diagnostics and treatments for pediatric cancer.

Joseph Nadeau will replace the Institute for Systems Biology co-founder Alan Aderem as director of research and academic affairs. Nadeau has been chair of the genetics department at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine since 2003.

In a policy statement, the European Society of Human Genetics says that regulations are needed to prevent direct-to-consumer predictive genomic services without well-reviewed clinical validity and utility from making it into the market or clinical practice.

Complete Genomics has filed documents for a proposed initial public offering to raise about $86.3 million. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol "GNOM."

As part of CombiMatrix's restructuring, Judd Jessup has been named the company's new CEO. Previously, Jessup was CEO of the cancer diagnostics and genetic testing services firm US Labs. He replaces Amit Kumar.

The University of California, Berkeley, has changed its plan to run genetic tests on 5,000 incoming freshmen as part of an educational program after state health regulators judged that the plan involved clinical and medical information that required special handling. Berkeley will not share the test results directly with the incoming students, but it still plans to run the tests anonymously and to conduct educational projects.

DNA Electronics signed a non-exclusive worldwide licensing agreement to provide Ion Torrent Systems access to its intellectual property. DNA Electronics develops scalable semiconductor technology for real-time nucleic acid detection.

Terry Pizzie is the new vice president of European operations for Pacific Biosciences. Previously, Pizzie worked at Genetix.

Pacific Biosciences has filed for an initial public offering in the US, seeking to raise up to $200 million.

Sequenom's former senior vice president of research and development, Elizabeth Dragon, pled guilty to a charge that she made false statements about the company's prenatal test for Down syndrome.

Life Technologies' Applied Biosystems business is suing Roche, alleging breach of contract. Applied Biosystems alleges that Roche owes it reimbursement for fees associated with a settlement agreement reached in 2008 with Molecular Diagnostic Laboratories. That settlement was the result of a class action suit filed by MDL against Applied Biosystems' predecessor firm Perkin-Elmer and focused on a patent that was sold to Roche in 1991.

The UK's Technology Strategy Board announced an initiative to invest up to £5 million in businesses conducting research using high-throughput sequencing and other genomics technologies.

The Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre has filed a preliminary prospectus to go public. It plans to trade on the Ace Market of Bursa Malaysia.

Ian Zhang is the new president and managing director of NeoStem China.

The Scan

Cell Atlas of Human Lung Development Gives View of Developing Airway

Researchers have generated a cell atlas of human lung development, which they report in Cell.

Study Finds Costs of Genome Sequencing May Limit Utility in Routine Care

Researchers report in the European Journal of Human Genetics that genome sequencing for rare disease diagnoses currently has similar benefits as less expensive exome analysis.

Study Suggests Nursing Mother's Diet Can Impact Offspring's Gut Microbiome

A new Cell Host and Microbe paper finds that mice whose mothers were fed a low-fiber diet during nursing experience lasting microbiota dysbiosis and increased obesity.

Study Links Genetic Risk for ADHD With Alzheimer's Disease

A higher polygenic risk score for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is also linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, a new study in Molecular Psychiatry finds.