The NIH announced a $100 million, three-year international effort to build a complete haplotype map of the human genome. Backers say this will catapult research in complex genetic diseases and drug responses into a new and much more sophisticated era. But opponents call it make-work.
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Venture capitalists turned their backs on privately held genomics companies during the third quarter as private-equity markets sought solace among drug discoverers and developers.
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What big prospect is primed to drive science in the next decade? If you’re Michael Hunkapiller, the answer is bioinformatics. He says there is a need among individual researchers to have access to information produced by “big science.”
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New Kid on the Block
“The Chinese are clearly earnest about joining the international community and [want] to be a major player in the arena. The question really is, is the technology — the microarray platforms, the analysis, the design — at a point where it is robust and stable enough to do mass production?”
— Ralph Dean, NC State rice researcher, on China’s rice gene expression array
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Try, Try Again
Sandia National Lab has cemented a $90 million deal with Cray to build a massively parallel supercomputer for life sciences work. Dubbed “Red Storm,” the system could eventually scale up to 100 teraflops. The agreement resurrects a January 2001 project that eventually ran aground due to restructuring at partners Compaq and Celera.
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A month after WashU researcher Donald Elbert invited scientists to download his new database search program for MS/MS data, the program is no longer available. Several researchers said that Thermo Finnigan, which holds an exclusive license for a patent covering the Sequest search program, had sent a letter to Washington University; the company appears to be staking out its intellectual property claims.
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