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Short Reads/Markers: Jan 1, 2006

NCI and NHGRI launched the long-awaited cancer genome project, known officially as the Cancer Genome Atlas Pilot Project. The three-year pilot, funded with $100 million, will explore the molecular basis of cancer.

Invitrogen has reorganized its business, forming three new divisions out of its former BioDiscovery and BioProduction units. Starting the first of this year, Invitrogen’s new units will be called Life Sciences, Bio-Production Systems and Services, and Enabling Technologies. No announcements were made regarding whether layoffs would be part of the reorg.

The EU has launched its Yeast Systems Biology Network with a budget of €1.3 million and a mandate to create standardized methods for research and reference databases. The Technical University of Denmark’s Center of Microbial Biotechnology will head the network.

The National Center for Genome Resources appointed three senior hires: Gregory May from the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation as leader of the nutritional biology program; Jim Huntley, formerly at New Mexico Highlands University, as senior research scientist; and Steven Day, who comes from the Molecular Profiling Institute, as director of software engineering.Solexa released its first product, the Genome Analysis System, and announced plans to use the technology this year to sequence an entire human genome. The company, which will use an anonymous sample from the HapMap project, says it will make the data publicly available.

The Broad Institute received a second gift of $100 million from institute founders and philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. The total gift of $200 million will be doled out over the next decade at $20 million each year.

Sigma-Aldrich has bought a $2.5-million equity stake in Benitec and acquired the right to use the latter’s intellectual property to develop and market research reagents. In exchange for the IP license, Benitec will receive an upfront payment of $2 million and stands to receive royalties on product sales and sublicenses.

Janet Woodcock accepted the first Leadership in Personalized Medicine Award from the Personalized Medicine Coalition at the Harvard-Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics conference in Boston, MA.

Shortly after CEO John West disclosed that Solexa would require additional cash to make it through 2006, the company announced that it would sell $65 million worth of common stock and warrants to a group of institutional investors.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute issued a request for applications for collaborative research projects combining computational modeling and simulation approaches to improve understanding of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders. The NHLBI plans to award $24.3 million over the next five years to support awarded projects.

Caprion and AstraZeneca have announced a collaboration to develop new therapies for prostate cancer. Under the agreement, the pharma will evaluate prostate cancer drug targets identified by Caprion and obtain exclusive rights to develop and commercialize therapeutic applications.

The National Science Foundation awarded $1 million to a research consortium investigating the feasibility of using metabolomics to decipher the functions of plant genes. The project, led by Basil Nikolau at Iowa State University, falls under NSF’s Arabidopsis 2010 project and involves investigators from seven institutions.

Oregon State University’s Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology will redirect its priorities and curriculum, starting with a name change to the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing. The center is also hiring new faculty and adding existing OSU computer science resources to its offering.

Illumina will provide genotyping services to colorectal cancer researchers funded by Cancer Research UK. The multi-million-dollar project will focus on colorectal cancer susceptibility, genetic mutations, and the progression of the disease.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute and the Morehouse School of Medicine have started a collaboration on projects in bioinformatics, diabetes, neurogenomics, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Applera will pay Genetic Technologies an undisclosed amount to settle the companies’ ongoing patent-infringement lawsuit involving Genetic Technologies’ junk DNA gene testing technologies.

The United States District Court for the District of Delaware found that SRU Biosystems infringed a patent exclusively licensed to Corning. Patent no. 4,815,843 covers optical biosensors that enable label-independent detection of chemical, biochemical, and biological substrates in a sample.

Theodore Thomas Puck, a biologist whose pioneering work on human cell culture and genetics opened the door to genomics, died on Nov. 6th from complications following a broken hip. Puck, along with researchers at the University of Denver’s Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, which he founded, studied genome regulation and variation in mammalian cells.

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.