In our cover story last July, Genome Technology took on what was starting to become a major new trend in the systems biology field: bioterror research. As we wrote last year, more and more resources for bioterrorism, as well as the pressing need for this kind of research, contributed to lead many genomics and proteomics scientists into the burgeoning field. Not much has changed in the past year, except that the money entering the sector makes it even more appealing as the flow of funding to other, more traditional sources has slowed. Opportunities still abound, particularly in detection of bioweapons and biological knowledge of these agents, as GT found out in a follow-up story that runs in this issue starting on p. 21.
The July 2003 issue also included a feature article on 14 of the newest, most innovative sequencing technologies that we came across. Several of these have continued to make strides in the field, such as the optical mapping technology pioneered by David Schwartz and licensed to Madison, Wis.-based OpGen. In the intervening months, OpGen has announced a partnership with Detroit’s Hermelin Brain Tumor Center to study a particular kind of tumor as well as completion of the maps for Aspergillus fumigatus, a fungal pathogen, and Francisella tularensis, the bacterial agent that causes tularemia. GT also looked at advances at Baylor College of Medicine; in the time since, Baylor has also released proof-of-concept work on a novel, four-laser sequencer that could one day become a portable, field-ready instrument.
In our August issue last year, GT’s cover showed our first salary survey, which has since become an annual affair. We published our second salary survey in the June 2004 magazine, but to recap, bad news was down slightly, with fewer respondents reporting that their last employer was out of business or that they had been laid off in the past year.
In news last year, we reported from the BIO conference that Francis Collins was starting to talk up the idea of a chemical genomics initiative. This June, NHGRI announced that it was launching the NIH Chemical Genomics Center in a deal worth up to $30 million using screening technology from Kalypsys. According to the announcement, NIH plans to establish a bank of as many as 1 million chemical compounds, the data on which are to be made freely available through a new entity called PubChem.