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A Year Ago: Sep 1, 2002

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GT’s September 2001 cover story explored the use of synchrotrons to help structural biologists determine protein structure at places such as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In the last year, LBNL has gone automatic, adding crystal-mounting robots and advanced software to expedite data-processing and analysis to crack the 3D-structures (in the current issue, see “Better Beamlines in Berkeley,” p. 57).

The issue also looked at Affymetrix spinoff Perlegen, which is using its exclusive access to Affy’s next-generation wafer for haplotype mapping, association studies, and whole-genome scanning. In the last year, the company has literally moved onward and upward: it relocated in December to new facilities in Mountain View, Calif., which are equipped with a wet lab for gene-phenotype association studies. Perlegen has also undergone some personnel additions, including Matthew Furst as the company’s first CFO, and Philip Sussman as VP of business development.

Our September ’01 Wild Type was Audrey Long, genomics business development manager for The Automation Partnership, who was leading her robotics company into the genomics industry. Since then, the company launched TAP Genomics to target the field, in part by engaging pharma, genomics, and academics in a series of roundtable discussions. The unit, headed by Rod Westrop, is trying to identify key areas for automation in medium-throughput technological procedures in genomics and proteomics such as genotyping, PCR, and DNA extraction.

A year after GT brought you its first salary survey and the article “How to Get a Job in Genomics,” we are now six months into our Promoter Region column, in which we examine career issues and talk to the experts for advice on genomics jobs. We’ve featured a resumé review, H-1B visa changes, and what to do when your company shifts directions. Check out the column in this issue on p. 97.

And finally, with this issue, our IT Guy Nat Goodman returns to the Bioinformatics U he envisioned last year and this time leads a tour of courses and learning material available online for people looking to brush up on their bioinformatics skills. The back-to-school article, a follow-on to last year’s roundup of university offerings, appears on p. 86.

— Dana Frisch

 

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.