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Ups and Downs with NIH Funding, Friedrich von Bohlen, Affy and ParAllele, WARF's Stem Cell Patents, and Cancer


In April 2003, Genome Technology included a news article reporting on NIH Director Elias Zerhouni's triumph — he had successfully doubled the NIH budget in five years. The celebration didn't last long. By 2004, the institute's budget increase wasn't keeping up with inflation, and as every GT reader knows, for the past couple of years the budget has been flat — an effective loss of 10 percent or more, experts say. The budget proposed for fiscal 2009 is actually less than what was issued to NIH this year when you deduct the $300 million set aside for a Global AIDS program.

Another article five years ago profiled Friedrich von Bohlen, then head of Lion Biosciences. At the end of 2003, von Bohlen stepped down from his post, and in 2006 Lion sold the bioinformatics part of its business to BioWisdom. Von Bohlen is now with Dievini, a healthcare consultancy, and he sits on the boards of companies including Apogenix, Sygnis Pharma, and CureVac.

Also in 2003, GT updated readers on ParAllele, best known for commercializing molecular inversion probes. In late 2005, Affymetrix acquired ParAllele for about $130 million in cash and stock. Late last year, Affy said it would put more effort into developing assays based on the Par-Allele technology.

In last year's edition of the magazine, GT featured its third annual special issue devoted to cancer research. We profiled some of the most innovative science done in the previous year, including work done by Alea Mills at Cold Spring Harbor Lab, Jan Karlseder at the Salk Institute, and MIT's Michael Yaffe, among others. This year our cover story turns again to the cancer research field, covering scientific highlights from the past 12 months.

Last year we also included an article from the inaugural edition of our sister publication, Biotech Transfer Week, about the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation clarifying policies to ensure researchers broad access to the embryonic stem cell lines it governed. In the time since, WARF has undergone a number of challenges to the patent portfolio covering this stem cell line. Last month, WARF announced that the US Patent and Trademark Office had upheld the validity of one of its key stem cell patents.

The Scan

And Back

The New York Times reports that missing SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences are back in a different database.

Lacks Family Hires Attorney

A lawyer for the family of Henrietta Lacks plans to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have used her cancer cells in product development, the Baltimore Sun reports.

For the Unknown

The Associated Press reports that family members are calling on the US military to use new DNA analysis techniques to identify unknown sailors and Marines who were on the USS Arizona.

PLOS Papers on Congenital Heart Disease, COVID-19 Infection Host MicroRNAs, Multiple Malformation Mutations

In PLOS this week: new genes linked to congenital heart disease, microRNAs with altered expression in COVID-19, and more.