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Short Reads: Nov 30, 2010

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The US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute has retired the last of its Sanger sequencers. JGI now has only next-gen machines including Roche 454 FLX Titanium analyzers, Illumina GAIIx analyzers, and Illumina HiSeq 2000 analyzers. The institute is also a Pacific Biosciences early access customer.

Ivan Trifunovich is the new president and CEO of Helicos BioSciences, replacing Ron Lowy. Trifunovich has been a consultant for Helicos since August, and prior to that he was a strategic consultant to global life sciences companies.

Japan's Riken Advanced Science Institute seeks to hire a chief scientist to oversee a new laboratory focused on epigenetics and gene function research.

GE Healthcare is acquiring molecular diagnostics and imaging firm Clarient for about $580 million. Clarient is developing proprietary biomarkers and tests for profiling breast, prostate, lung, colon, and blood-based cancers.

The NIH has awarded the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta $13.3 million to start a multi-institutional collaboration to create and maintain a database of genetic and other health information about minority populations.

Kathy Hudson, chief of staff for National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, has been appointed to the newly created position of NIH deputy director for science, outreach, and policy. Previously, Hudson founded and directed the Johns Hopkins University Genetics and Public Policy Center and was an associate professor at the school.

Affymetrix has filed a lawsuit against Pacific Biosciences alleging misconduct in its hiring of at least 15 former Affymetrix employees in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

China's BGI has acquired 27 SOLiD 4 systems, which will allow researchers there to sequence 50 whole human genomes per month, according to Life Technologies.

Ronald Gregg is the new director of the University of Louisville's Center for Genetics and Molecular Medicine. Gregg joined the university in 1997 and became the director of the center's DNA core facility in 2000.

Pacific Biosciences has gone public, raising $200 million through its IPO of 12.5 million shares at $16 each. The company now trades under the ticker symbol "PACB."

23andMe raised more than $22 million in a Series C financing round.

The US Department of Justice has filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the patenting of genes, arguing that they occur naturally and are not man-made inventions. The DOJ filed the brief with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case challenging the legality of the BRCA gene patents held by the University of Utah Research Foundation and licensed exclusively to Myriad Genetics.

Gene Codes is suing New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner, alleging it stole trade secrets as part of Gene Codes' work to identify the remains of victims of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. In a complaint filed with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Gene Codes asserts that the OCME improperly shared proprietary information about its software with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Science spending in the UK will be frozen at around £4.6 billion as part of Prime Minister David Cameron's deficit-slashing spending plan. The four-year freeze will amount to a nearly 9 percent cut once inflation is accounted for.

Qatar and the Imperial College London plan to create a large biobank to house biological samples as well as genetic, environmental, and medical data from as many as 100,000 people.

Raindance Technologies has appointed Richard Lussier as vice president of worldwide sales and Ingrid Choupin as managing director of European sales and marketing. Lussier was previously vice president of worldwide sales and service at Cell Biosciences, and Choupin was most recently the associate director of global sales and strategy development at Affymetrix.

With a $9.6 million contract from the US Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Northrop Grumman is developing a PCR-based diagnostic system to detect whether a person has been exposed to a biological threat.

The Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Working Group, an independent organization at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that there is no health benefit to be gained by using any of the eight genetic tests marketed to monitor cardiovascular disease risk, which analyze 58 variants and 29 genes.

Researchers from Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute and the Medical College of Georgia received a five-year, $7.6 million award from NASA to study the possible link between space -radiation and lung cancer.

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.