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Where Are They Now?: Apr 1, 2004

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Last year in Genome Technology, our cover story examined grid computing — fact or fiction? — and determined that while most people agree that in theory it’s a great idea, very few organizations are close to making it a reality. Not much has changed in the last year: organizations are still taking steps toward it, but, like systems biology, this seems to be a far-off ideal that will take much more progress to realize.

Our April ’03 issue also featured a Q&A with then-Lion CEO Friedrich von Bohlen. Almost presciently, GT wrote at the time, “In the current climate, there’s no telling what might happen.” Indeed, by the end of 2003 von Bohlen announced his resignation, although he expects to stay on the company’s supervisory board. He told GT at the start of this year that he plans to stay in the field somewhere, but isn’t sure if that means joining an existing company, starting up another company, or some other alternative.

Our IT Guy wrote a year ago about the hazards of using microarrays and depending on them for quality data. His fear was that scientists were growing more and more reliant on the technology, ignoring potential problems with experiment results. But if anything, GT readers seem to have grown even more confident in microarrays, according to the survey we performed earlier this year. You can find the results of that study on p. 38.

This month promises to be quieter than last April, the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA and the announcement of the completion of the human genome. In the last year, scientists have committed themselves to new genomes, and NHGRI awarded $163 million for fiscal year ’04 to five major sequencing centers. Much of that is for new organisms, but some of it will enable the sequencing of other human genomes.

In the news a year ago came word that Henry Huang of Washington University had filed suit against Applied Biosystems and Caltech, claiming that he deserved credit for invention of the DNA sequencer. The case went to court just before Christmas of last year, and by mid-February the district court judge ruled that Huang had not proven his contribution to the instrument. For a report on that story, turn to p. 14.

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.