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Short Reads/Markers: Apr 1, 2005

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DOE’s Joint Genome Institute kicked off Integrated Microbial Genomes, its public online microbial genome database featuring more than 200 organisms. JGI produces nearly 25 percent of the number of microbial genome projects worldwide and expects to add another 200 genomes to the database in 2005.

 

In February the US Senate approved the genetic non-discrimination bill, which now awaits a decision from the House of Representatives. A similar bill was passed by the Senate in 2003 and never came to a vote in the House.

 

Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin, former co-directors of the NCI/FDA Clinical Proteomics Program, have further cemented the slash between their names by moving to the faculty of George Mason University. Petricoin will head to the new post at the start of this month, and Liotta’s appointment will be effective May 15.

 

Carl Barrett, director of the Center for Cancer Research at NCI, will step down to become the new global head of oncology biomarkers at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research.

 

Zach Hall has been named interim president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the funding agency for that state’s stem cell initiative.

 

It’s been a busy season for Toni Schuh, who announced at the beginning of February that he was resigning from his post as CEO of Sequenom. By early March, Arcturus Bioscience, a privately held firm that sells laser capture microdissection systems and reagents for genomic analysis of tissue samples, announced that Schuh was coming aboard as that company’s new chief executive.

 

A research project involving British, Austrian, and German biotech and academic researchers was awarded €2.5 million to find genome targets in liver cancer. The project, Parallel Optimization of New Technologies for Post-Genomics Drug Discovery — better known as PONT — will use a parallel strategy for pre-clinical drug development to shorten the time to bring a drug to trial.

 

Donald Halbert, who worked for more 13 years at Abbott Laboratories, became executive vice president of research and development at Iconix Pharmaceuticals. Most recently he was director of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics at Abbott.

 

NextGen Sciences opened a US-based operation, located in the Chicago area. Cliff Turner, who previously hung his hat at Nanosphere, is the new president of NextGen Sciences, the US subsidiary of the UK-based firm.

 

Nanogen reported losses in revenue of more than 50 percent for the fourth quarter of 2004. The company took in about $1 million, down from $2.1 million during the same quarter the year before. Meanwhile, net loss for the quarter rose to $11.2 million, up from $5.9 million the previous year.

 

In spite of a 13 percent increase in net sales and more than doubling profits for 2004, Genetix Group cut its staff by about 10 percent. The company said instrumentation sales were up 25 percent for the year, but revenue from consumables and services fell 14 percent.

 

Transgenomic completed its restructuring, which resulted in 60 job cuts and closing of R&D facilities related to its nucleic acids division, as well as two European field offices.

 

John Burcham, last seen at GE Healthcare as strategic marketing manager for proteomics, is the new senior marketing manager for TaqMan SNP genotyping assays at Applied Biosystems.

 

The University of Manchester, UK, was awarded a £6 million government grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to open a new systems biology center.

 

The University of Minnesota will use $5 million from a Microsoft antitrust settlement to fund a Consortium for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.

 

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.