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Short Reads: Mar 1, 2011

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According to Cogent Research's Genomics, Attitudes, and Trends study — a survey of 1,000 people — Americans are increasingly worried about the privacy of their genetic information. About 71 percent of respondents said they are concerned about how their genetic information will be stored and who will have access to it — an increase from 65 percent who felt that way in 2006.

An independent group says the US Department of Defense could benefit from using genomic technologies to evaluate health and performance characteristics of its military personnel. The report, developed by a group of scientists called JASON working through the nonprofit MITRE Corporation, adds that the DoD should "take a leading role" in personal genomics research.

Novartis has signed an agreement to acquire personalized diagnostics lab services firm Genoptix for approximately $470 million. Genoptix CEO Tina Nova says that the firm will become part of the Novartis Molecular Diagnostics unit.

Pfizer is closing its UK research and development facility in Sandwich, Kent. In addition, the company is shifting some of its R&D operations from its Groton, Conn., site to its Cambridge, Mass., facility.

PerkinElmer has launched a next-generation sequencing and data analysis service to be run out of its laboratory in Branford, Conn. The facility is equipped with the Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform as well as exome sequencing tools from Agilent, NimbleGen, and Illumina.

Wayne Cowens is the new chief medical officer of NanoString Technologies. Cowens was previously at Genomic Health.

Erik Holmlin is the new -president, chief executive officer, and director of BioNanomatrix. He succeeds Edward Erickson, who led the company since December 2009. Previously, Holmlin was president and CEO of GenVault Corporation.

James Carrington has been named the next president of the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Mo. Carrington currently directs the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University.

In a report, the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council says that next-generation sequencing technologies are being integrated across the biological sciences, but adds that new partnerships and bioinformatics tools are needed.

The National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust, and the African Society of Human Genetics have joined forces to create the Human Heredity and Health in Africa project, which aims to enable human genomics-based science in Africa that is of interest to and conducted by African researchers.

Expression Analysis, Agilent Technologies, and Illumina have teamed up on a cancer research grant program. Expression Analysis will conduct sequence enrichment and kinome sequencing for up to eight American Cancer Society grantees using Agilent and Illumina technologies as part of the project.

The International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project — to identify genes associated with Alzheimer's disease — has launched. The US-European joint effort plans to bring together scientists from four university research groups and create a shared resource database that includes genetic information on more than 40,000 patients.

Danaher is buying Beckman Coulter in a deal valued at $6.8 billion. Beckman Coulter is to become part of Danaher's Life Sciences and Diagnostics segment.

Eric Boerwinkle is the new assistant director of the Baylor genome center.

Sigma-Aldrich's Sigma Life Science business is collaborating with Cofactor Genomics to develop a rat genome database. Cofactor will generate and analyze rat sequence data using next-generation sequencing systems, while Sigma's SAGE lab plans to provide the samples as well as to host a new, free public database that will include genomic information and analysis tools.

In a new study, the 1,000 Genomes Consortium reports that it has started to catalog structural variation in the human genome at the population level. By sifting through genome data for nearly 200 individuals, the team turned up tens of thousands of structural variants in the human genome, including nearly 2,000 changes that affect full genes or exons.

The Coriell Personalized Medicine Institute and Ohio State University are collaborating on a study to determine how useful genomic information and genetic counseling are to doctors and patients in clinical practice and in informing patient behavior. The study will focus on congestive heart failure and hypertension and will involve up to 1,800 patients.

BGI Americas CEO Julia Dan and President Paul Tu are no longer with the company. BGI has not yet announced their replacements.

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.