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In Silico: Dec 1, 2002

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HAPpy Days


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.


Find “NIH Launches $100 Million Hap-Map Project” by searching: hap-map


Cold Shoulder


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.


Find “VCs Flee Genomics Shops in Q3; Bioinformatics Providers Hardest Hit” by searching: flee


Big Bioinformatics


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.”


Find “Is Bioinformatics — and Open-Source Software — in ABI’s Future?” by searching: open-source Weekly

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


Find “Ralph Dean: Rice Researchers Are Ready to Roll Their Own Arrays” by searching: Ralph Weekly

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.


Find “Sandia Storms into Biotech Armed with 40-Tflop ‘Red Storm’ Computer” by searching: Sandia Weekly

Marking Territory


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.


Find “Finnigan’s UW Patent: A Threat to MS/MS Database Search Algorithms?” by searching: Finnigan

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.