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Short Reads: Nov 1, 2010


The National Human Genome Research Institute awarded $18 million in new grants to 10 scientists who are developing next-generation sequencing technologies. Among the recipients areresearchers at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center for polony genome sequencing, GnuBio for its droplet-based microfluidics, Caerus Molecular Diagnostics for label-free Millikan sequencing, and Boston University for single molecule sequencing via nanopore-induced photon emission.

Harvard's David Altshuler, Jeremy Berg from NIGMS, Johns Hopkins' Carol Greider, and Salk's Sydney Brenner were among the 65 new members and four foreign associates elected to the US National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine.

The University of Washington's Mary-Claire King is president-elect of the American Society of Human Genetics. She will serve as president of the society in 2012.

Berkeley's David Drubin, Ohio State's Carlo Croce, Stanford's Michael Levitt, Washington University in St. Louis' Timothy Ley, NIAID's Gary Nabel, and others were inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony in October.

Stanford University's Carlos Bustamante was awarded one of the $500,000 "genius" fellowship awards from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Bustamante won the award for research focused on understanding genetic diversity, population migration, and the mechanisms of evolution.

Dalia Cohen is Asterand's new chief scientific officer. Cohen was previously chief scientific officer at Rosetta Genomics.

Researchers at Mars, Inc., the US Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service, and IBM announced they have sequenced a draft version of the cacao genome and that they are making the data publicly available.

Paul Billings has taken on the new position of chief medical officer at Life Technologies. He recently served as director and chief scientific officer at the Genomic Medicine Institute at El Camino Hospital in California.

As part of a budget-cutting and reform effort, the UK's Human Genetics Commission will be disbanded. The HGC, which serves as the government's advisory body on developments in human genetics issues, will be replaced by a committee of experts working for the Department of Health.

The US Senate has confirmed Subra Suresh, President Barack Obama's nominee for director of the National Science Foundation, for a six-year term. Suresh replaces Arden Bement, who resigned. Suresh has served as dean of the engineering school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he was head of MIT's materials department from 2000 to 2006.
Former Sequenom CFO Paul Hawran has filed a suit against the firm and certain directors claiming, among other allegations, that they defamed him. He resigned from Sequenom after an investigation into mishandled R&D test data in the firm's Down syndrome molecular diagnostic program. As a result, president and CEO Harry Stylli and senior VP of R&D Elizabeth Dragon were fired while Hawran and Steve Owings, who was vice president of commercial development for prenatal diagnostics, resigned.

NanoString Technologies has appointed Barney Saunders as its chief commercial officer. Saunders spent five years as chief commercial officer of Microchip Biotechnologies, now IntegenX. Prior to that, he was a vice president and general manager at Agilent Technologies.

Celera's Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer Ugo DeBlasi is leaving his position this month.

The US National Institutes of Health launched a Genotype-Tissue Expression, or GTEx, project with a budget of about $21 million. The two-year pilot phase will include funding for three biospecimen source sites and a lab and data analysis coordinating center. Scientists will use the GTEx data to study findings from genome-wide association studies and as a resource for the study of gene expression networks.

Complete Genomics announced changes to its board of directors — Robert Wall from On Point Developments has joined the board and Michael Rubin, a financial analyst at Sands Capital Management, will step down following the company's IPO. In addition, the company has also combined the positions of chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer. Founder Cliff Reid is serving in the combined role.

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology won a $12.6 million stimulus grant from NIH to develop San Diego's first center for RNAi screening.

Han Cao, founder and chief scientific officer of Bio-Nanomatrix, won the Chinese Rising Star -Entrepreneur award at the China International Economic and Technical Cooperation Forum in Beijing.

GenomeQuest and Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center announced a two-year collaboration to develop whole-genome analysis applications. GenomeQuest will provide whole-genome data management and analysis capabilities for next-gen projects being conducted by the center's pathology department.

The US government issued guidelines to prevent the misuse of synthetic DNA to create dangerous organisms. The guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services contains standards for companies to use when screening orders for synthetic double-stranded DNA products, recommending screening customers as well as DNA sequences.

Roche Molecular Systems and the German Cancer Research Center announced a collaboration on research to improve the ability to predict a woman's risk for developing cervical cancer.

Michael McManus is the new CEO of Integromics. Previously, McManus led Genome-Quest's marketing and product development efforts.

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and its collaborators at the University of Texas Medical Branch received a $2.4 million NIH to develop RNAi therapeutics against Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fever.

The Scan

Study Tracks Off-Target Gene Edits Linked to Epigenetic Features

Using machine learning, researchers characterize in BMC Genomics the potential off-target effects of 19 computed or experimentally determined epigenetic features during CRISPR-Cas9 editing.

Coronary Artery Disease Risk Loci, Candidate Genes Identified in GWAS Meta-Analysis

A GWAS in Nature Genetics of nearly 1.4 million coronary artery disease cases and controls focused in on more than 200 candidate causal genes, including the cell motility-related myosin gene MYO9B.

Multiple Sclerosis Contributors Found in Proteome-Wide Association Study

With a combination of genome-wide association and brain proteome data, researchers in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology tracked down dozens of potential multiple sclerosis risk proteins.

Quality Improvement Study Compares Molecular Tumor Boards, Central Consensus Recommendations

With 50 simulated cancer cases, researchers in JAMA Network Open compared molecular tumor board recommendations with central consensus plans at a dozen centers in Japan.