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UPDATE: Thornton to Replace Ashburner as EBI Research Director

This story has been updated from a previous version.  

NEW YORK, July 12 – Janet Thornton, a professor of structural biology at the University of London, has been appointed research director of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, UK.  

In addition, Nadia Rosenthal, an associate professor of molecular biology at Harvard University, has been named head of the mouse biology program at the European Mouse Mutant Archive in Monterotondo, Italy. She will replace Klaus Rajewsky.

The European Laboratory of Molecular Biology, which made the announcements, oversees both the EBI and the mouse archive. A spokesman was not immediately available to comment about the new appointments.

Thornton will replace Michael Ashburner, who will return to working full-time at the University of Cambridge. However, Ashburner, who has served as co-head of the institute along with Graham Cameron since EBI's launch five years ago, is expected to continue to support the growth of the Gene Ontology consortium. That group is trying to create an overarching vocabulary to help genomic researchers to speak and use the same language.

The appointments follow a major European Union investment in EMBL and both EBI and the Monterotondo site have received budgetary increases under a new five-year plan.

"I am very pleased to be joining the EBI at a time when Graham Cameron and the EMBL have been so successful in securing funding and making Europe aware of what they are doing," Thornton said in a statement.

Thornton said that the funding would alow EBI to develop its five major major databases as well as make them interactive. Thornton, who is also interested in expanding EBI's cheminformatics capabilities said she would also look to increase EBI's team of researchers.

As a professor of structural biology, Thornton's main interest has been in modeling protein structures and her research is the cornerstone of British-based Inpharmatica’s technology. On Thursday, Swiss biotech company Serono announced that it had entered a $20 million deal with Inpharmatica to search for novel proteins targets and antibodies.

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