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Short Reads: May 1, 2011


The US federal budget deal reached in mid-April includes a $38 billion reduction in discretionary spending, including a $260 million cut for the National Institutes of Health, a $730 million cut for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a $20 million cut for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

With funding from the European Commission, European scientists led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Germany are developing the European Sequencing and Genotyping Infrastructure. The ESGI aims to pool the efforts of European genomics and bioinformatics facilities so that researchers can easily access the latest tools.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Judy Garber is the new president of the American Association for Cancer Research. She succeeds Elizabeth Blackburn. In addition, the University of California, San Francisco's Frank McCormick is the new president-elect.

Stanford University's Axel Brunger won the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences, which honors those who create accessible and innovative developments or applications of computer technology for the life sciences.

A US Federal Circuit Court heard oral arguments from Myriad Genetics, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Department of Justice in the BRCA gene patents case. Myriad argued that its patent claims are in accord with US law, while ACLU lawyers said that human genes are a product of nature and therefore cannot be patented.

GnuBio, the Harvard University spinout, announced that that it has demonstrated proof of principle for its droplet-based sequencing method, and that it plans to start shipping alpha systems to early-access users in June.

Complete Genomics announced that it has added 29 high-coverage, complete human genome sequences to its public genomic repository, bringing the total number of genomes to 69.

Bayer CropScience is opening an expanded seed research laboratory in Singapore to support the development of new high-yield and high-quality seed varieties and hybrids.

Wayne Grody at the University of California, Los Angeles, is the new president of the American College of Medical Genetics. He succeeds Bruce Korf.

GenMark Diagnostics named Hany Massarany to be its president and CEO.

Life Technologies is appealing the US Patent and Trademark Office's recent ruling in a patent-interference case with Pacific Biosciences. The case involved Life Tech's patent on methods for real-time, single molecule sequencing and PacBio's patent on a method for sequencing by polymerase synthesis.

Roche's 454 Life Sciences launched kits for genotyping HLA genes at high- and medium-resolution. Independently, RainDance Technologies launched a kit to amplify a large panel of HLA genes using its microdroplet PCR platform and to analyze them using next-gen sequencing.

Laboratory Corporation of America signed an agreement to purchase Orchid Cellmark for $85.4 million. LabCorp will purchase 30.5 million outstanding shares of Orchid Cellmark, including options, at $2.80 per share.

University of California, San Francisco's Elad Ziv and Indiana University School of Medicine's Chunyan He won Expression Analysis' annual GWAS and Data Analysis grants competition, which was cosponsored by Illumina.

The National Institutes of Health is to fund a new DNA repository for alcoholism research and an Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Data Warehouse.

Life Technologies announced an improved sample preparation kit, called Ion Xpress, for its Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine, which the firm says shortens the time and manual labor involved in template preparation. The company also developed an emulsion PCR-free prep kit, the Ion OneTouch System, that it plans to begin shipping in June.

The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics awarded two grants totaling nearly $1.4 million for research into cancer genetics aimed at developing new knowledge and treatments. This University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic initiative supports projects at the institutions that focus on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological diseases.

Vanderbilt University was awarded a five-year, $10.3 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources to establish a resource focused on imaging mass spectrometry.

Wayne State University received a $900,000 grant from the US Department of Defense to investigate whether genomic instability might play a role in Gulf War Illness.

Robert Yates will be the new head of Roche Applied Science, replacing Manfred Baier, who is retiring.

The UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has appointed three new members: Russell Foster, Michael Goosey, and Will West. They will replace retiring members Malcolm Weir and Quintin McKellar, and fill a vacancy.

The US Patent and Trademark Office determined that all claims of two of Helicos Biosciences' patents named in an ongoing intellectual property dispute involving Pacific Biosciences are invalid.

Ambry Genetics is the first certified service provider for Ion Torrent's DNA sequencing system.

The American College of Medical Genetics has elected four new directors: Nationwide Children's Hospital's Gail Herman, Mira Irons from Children's Hospital of Boston, Emory University School of Medicine's Christa Lese Martin, and Soma Das from the University of Chicago.

The Jackson Laboratory has named JoAnne Ruh to be its new chief information officer. The current CIO, Scott McNeil, is retiring.

Jeremy Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, received the American Chemical Society's 2011
Public Service Award.

The Scan

Lung Cancer Response to Checkpoint Inhibitors Reflected in Circulating Tumor DNA

In non-small cell lung cancer patients, researchers find in JCO Precision Oncology that survival benefits after immune checkpoint blockade coincide with a dip in ctDNA levels.

Study Reviews Family, Provider Responses to Rapid Whole-Genome Sequencing Follow-up

Investigators identified in the European Journal of Human Genetics variable follow-up practices after rapid whole-genome sequencing.

BMI-Related Variants Show Age-Related Stability in UK Biobank Participants

Researchers followed body mass index variant stability with genomic structural equation modeling and genome-wide association studies of 40- to 72-year olds in PLOS Genetics.

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.