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Short Reads: Feb 1, 2011


The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues recommended that federal agencies oversee some areas of synthetic biology — including regulation, product licensing, and funding — in order to protect the public from potential risks and to keep research efforts from being stifled.

Fox Chase Cancer Center aims to raise $30 million during the next six years for its new Cancer Genome Institute, which will be dedicated to cancer genome sequencing. Fox Chase is working with Navigenics' Dietrich Stephan to create the center.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is suing two people that it says allegedly profited from insider trading of Sequenom and Exact Sciences stock. The SEC alleges that Brett Cohen and David Myers violated antifraud provisions of federal securities laws by trading shares based on insider information that they obtained from a Sequenom patent agent.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has acquired chromatography technologies firm Dionex for approximately $2.1 billion.

John Fenn, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2002, has died. Fenn developed electrospray ionization as a way to speed up protein analysis.

Roche is shutting down its in-house RNAi-related research activities as part of a cost-savings initiative. In addition, the company will cut its workforce by 6 percent in the next two years.

A US federal court has dismissed Illumina's lawsuits in which the firm alleged that Affymetrix infringed on array technologies patents.

Baylor College of Medicine is receiving $4.75 million from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation to establish centers for metagenomics, metabolomics, and microbiome research.

Neuroscientist Anthony Monaco will be the next president of Tufts University. Previously, Monaco was pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources at the University of Oxford.

Geneticist Rivka Carmi is the first woman to head up the Committee of University Presidents in Israel. Carmi became dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University in 2000 and president of the school six years later.

Leroy Hood has won the $500,000 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize from Ohio University and the National Academy of Engineering.

The Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Takeda Pharmaceutical, and Florida Hospital are collaborating on a project to find and evaluate new therapeutics for obesity. They aim to identify genes, metabolic signatures, and pathways that could be used as biomarkers and novel drug targets for the treatment of obesity.

The Genome Institute of Singapore and the University of Maryland have designed an automated method to identify changes in the influenza virus genome. The method is available as a free software package called Graph-incompatibility based Reassortment Finder, or GiRaF.

Beginning in March, the US Food and Drug Administration will require that informed consent documents used in clinical trials for drugs, biologics, and medical devices include a statement informing participants that information from the trials will be entered into a database.

Elias Zerhouni, the former National Institutes of Health director, will run global research and development at Sanofi-Aventis, replacing Marc Cluzel, who resigned. Since leaving NIH, Zerhouni has consulted for Sanofi-Aventis and has served on the boards at Mayo Clinic and the Lasker Foundation.

Illumina announced the release of MiSeq — a new, low-cost sequencing platform. The company says MiSeq can analyze data from purified DNA samples in as few as eight hours, and can generate in excess of 1 gigabase per run in a little more than a day.

Alfred Merriweather is the new senior vice president and CFO of Celera. Merriweather was previously executive vice president and CFO at Calypso Medical Technologies. He replaces Ugo DeBlasi, who left Celera in November.

Jeremy Berg, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences director, will step down from his position in June to take up the post of associate vice chancellor for strategy and planning in the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

Roche Molecular Systems CEO and President Peter Meldrum and former Roche CEO and President Heiner Dreismann have been elected to serve as Myriad Genetics' directors for three-year terms.

Bernd Brust is leaving his post as president of Life Technologies' commercial operations to become president of molecular medicine there. Nicolas Barthelemy will replace him.

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.