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Venter Joins Harvard as Visiting Scholar, Lucier Gets a Raise, MDRNA Names SAB, and More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — J. Craig Venter will spend the next year as a visiting scholar at Harvard University in the Origins of Life Initiative.
Venter started the one-year appointment at the beginning of March. Dimitar Sasselov, the initiative’s director, said Venter will work on “the big questions that lie beyond the horizon of the current successes in synthetic genomics and synthetic biology.”

Wafergen said this week that Kumar Kastury has been promoted from director of assay development to VP of assay development. John McEntee, the company’s director of engineering, has been promoted to associate VP of engineering.
The company also said that Terry Osborn, chief operating office, is leaving Wafergen to pursue other interests.

Invitrogen has agreed to give CEO Greg Lucier an increase in his base salary to $975,000, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The change was approved by the firm’s board of directors on Feb. 27 and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2008.

Numira Biosciences has appointed Paul Grint to its board of directors. Grint currently is chief medical officer and head of development at the drug discovery company Kalypsys, and he formerly was in senior management positions at Zephyr Sciences, Pfizer Global Research and Development, IDEC Pharmaceuticals, and Schering-Plough.

Znomics has named Stephane Berghmans to be director of drug discovery. Berghmans, who has expertise in using zebrafish in drug discovery, most recently was head of safety pharmacology at Summit. He also was a research fellow at the department of Pediatric Oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School.

Nastech Pharmaceutical has appointed three new members to the scientific advisory board at its RNAi-focused subsidiary, MDRNA.
The new SAB members include: Roger Kornberg, an RNA and DNA researcher at Stanford University and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in chemistry; Carl Novina, an assistant professor of cancer immunology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and at Harvard Medical School; and James Rothman, who is the director of Columbia University’s Judith P. Sulzberger, MD Genome Center.

Promoted? Changing jobs? GenomeWeb wants to know. E-mail [email protected] to appear in PEOPLE, a weekly roundup of industry comings and goings.

The Scan

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.