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University of North Carolina, NIH, Thermo Electron, University of Pau, Rubicon Genomics, Applied Biosystems

Research Triangle Universities Land Four NIH Roadmap Grants

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, and Duke University, in Durham, NC, have landed four grants from the National Institutes of Health Roadmap for Medical Research, according to news reports.

The University of North Carolina on Thursday received three planning grants of approximately $1.7 million over three years to start multidisciplinary centers to investigate obesity, inflammation and imaging, and developing computational techniques to understand genomic data from clinical studies and population models. (For more about UNC’s plans for the funds, please see page 6)

Huntington Willard, the director of the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy at Duke, received a five-year curriculum development award totaling over $600,000. Duke also received a grant to investigate environmental factors and genomics.

Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the UNC schools of public health and medicine, will direct UNC’s new obesity center. Balfour Sartor, professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology, will lead the imaging program, in collaboration with Etta Pisano, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering, and chief of breast imaging at UNC Hospitals. Pisano is the director of the Biomedical Research Imaging Center of UNC. Dan Reed, vice chancellor for information technology at UNC, will direct the new Carolina Center for Exploratory Genetic Analysis.


NIH Funds SNP Genotyping Center, PGX Centers

The National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health this week awarded more than $14 million over five years to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University for the development of a national center for high-throughput genotyping. The Broad Institute will offer a variety of services for the selection, discovery, and analysis of SNPs, based on three technology platforms: Sequenom’s MassArray, Illumina’s BeadLab, and Affymetrix’ GeneChip, according to Stacey Gabriel, who will be the center’s principal investigator and director.

Also, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health this week awarded the Mayo Clinic a five-year $10.2 million federal contract to study genetic susceptibility to smallpox and genomic-based risks to the smallpox vaccine, the Mayo Clinic said. Greg Poland, head of Mayo’s Vaccine Research Group, will lead the research project.

Additionally, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine this week announced a $595,000 NIH grant to create a new interdisciplinary center to study gene-drug interactions. The Human Pharmacogenomic Epidemiology centern will be overseen by Stephen Kimmel, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the medical school. The funding behind the HPE center comes from the National Center for Research Resources, part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.


Thermo and University of Pau Enter into Training Collaboration

Thermo Electron and the University of Pau, France, last week announced a collaboration to establish a center of excellence for speciated analysis techniques in cooperation with the university’s biogeochemistry, ultra trace, and isotopic analysis group. The center will train and teach elemental speciation techniques for the environmental and biomedical elemental analysis of speciated metals for environmental and biomedical applications using Thermo mass spectrometry instruments. Financial details were not disclosed.

Additionally, according to the People’s Daily Online of China, Thermo said last week that it will invest $10 million to expand a manufacturing facility in Shanghai. Thermo recently restructured its China operations by consolidating its business units into one commercial and manufacturing organization. The company plans to establish a research and development facility in Shanghai within three years, Ken Berger, president of Thermo Electron China said, according to the report.


Rubicon Genomics Grants Sigma-Aldrich Exclusive License to its PCR Amplification Technology

Rubicon Genomics of Ann Arbor, Mich., this week said Sigma-Aldrich has purchased an exclusive license to its GenomePlex whole genome DNA amplification technology for the production and sale of kits to the research market. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. The license of this PCR-based system is complementary to Sigma’s nucleic acid amplification products and the oligonucleotides offered through Sigma-Genosys, the company said.


ABI Stops Selling HTS Biosystems’ SPR Array Platform

Applied Biosystems will no longer develop, service, or distribute HTS Biosystems’ surface plasmon resonance array platform, HTS said this week. The platform, sold as the 8500 Affinity Chip Analyzer by ABI, will be marketed by HTS Biosystems as the Flexchip Kinetic Analysis System.

As a result of its ongoing business review, ABI decided to stop selling the instrument.

“Although we have had a successful relationship with Applied Biosystems, we understand their future market emphasis, and agree that the Flexchip system’s success is best served through specific market focus by HTS,” said Gregory Freitag, HTS CEO, in a company statement.

The Scan

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Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.