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US National Institutes of Health, Genomatica, Accelrys, Craig Venter, Qiagen, Molecular Staging

NIGMS Issues Request for Applications For Systems Biology Research Grants

The US National Institutes of Health issued an RFA last week requesting systems biology research proposals.

According to the NIH, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences is accepting applications for a program involving the development of “research, training, and outreach programs focused on quantitative, systems level analysis of biological phenomena of biomedical importance within the [institute’s] mission.” (See page 7 for an interview with Jeremy Berg, director of NIGMS.)

Under the program, called NIGMS National Centers for Systems Biology, NIGMS said it plans to support systems biology research in areas that are central to its mission of supporting basic biomedical research and include a focus on developing new computational approaches to biomedical complexity.

Under the program, NIGMS is committing up to $7 million to fund up to three new grants in response to the RFA. Grant projects may include, but are not limited to, areas such as signaling networks and the regulatory dynamics of cellular processes; supramolecular machines; pattern formation and developmental processes in model systems; and genetic architecture of biological complexity related to inherited variation and environmental fluctuations, said the NIH.

Letters of intent from those seeking grants are due by Jan. 25, 2005. Applications are due by Feb. 25, 2005.


Genomatica Wins $750K SBIR Grant To Develop Systems Biology Software

Genomatica received a $750,000 Phase II SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grant from the US Department of Energy under its Genomics:GtL program, Genomatica said this week.

The two-year grant will be used to enhance core components of SimPheny, Genomatica’s flagship software platform for systems biology applications, the San Diego-based company said.

In the Phase I effort, Genomatica said it successfully installed SimPheny at academic laboratories engaged in computational biology research, including those at the University of Massachusetts, Penn State University, and the University of Delaware. In Phase II, Genomatica will develop enhanced functionality based on requirements gathered in Phase I and ongoing customer feedback, it said.


Accelrys Completes $21.5M Acquisition of SciTegic

Accelrys said this week that it has completed its acquisition of research workflow software firm SciTegic. in a deal worth approximately $21.5 million.

SciTegic will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Accelrys, which plans to incorporate SciTegic’s Pipeline Pilot software into its portfolio. The deal was announced earlier this month.

Both companies are based in San Diego. SciTegic said that it plans to remain there, and that Matt Hahn, co-founder and CEO of the SciTegic, will continue to manage the subsidiary’s operations while reporting to Mark Emkjer, Accelrys’ CEO.


Venter Plans to Consolidate Three Non-Profits into Single Institute

Craig Venter this week announced that he would merge three non-profit research organizations that he currently directs into a single umbrella organization called the J. Craig Venter Institute.

The three organizations that will be merged include the Center for the Advancement of Genomics, the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives, and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation Joint Technology Center. They were founded nearly three years ago and conduct basic science genomic research, high-throughput genomic sequencing, and genomic policy research.

“We did this so we could save some money and to make it easier to manage,” Venter told GenomeWeb News, BioCommerce Week’s sister publication, at TIGR’s annual GSAC meeting in Washington. TIGR, which is an affiliated organization, will continue to receive support from the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation.

According to a statement issued by Venter, the three organizations have nearly 200 employees and a budget of more than $50 million.


Qiagen Acquires Molecular Staging’s Amplification Technology for $28.5M

Qiagen this week announced $28.5 million acquisition of technology assets from Molecular Staging, including the company’s whole-genome amplification and rolling-circle amplification technologies.

Qiagen purchased the technology assets of MSI, including more than 160 applied or issued patents, for $28.5 million in cash plus potential earn-outs of up to $6.75 million.

Qiagen said it expects to incur one-time charges relating to the acquisition of around $2 million in the third quarter of 2004, and that it expects the acquisition to add approximately $6 million in net sales and $1 million in net income in 2005.

Qiagen said it plans to launch a series of kits integrating the WGA technology with its nucleic acid products in 2005.

Molecular Staging’s WGA activities will be integrated into Qiagen’s operations in Germantown, Md., and Hilden, Germany.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.