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Millipore, Indiana University, SpheroSense, Novartis, MIT, Chromatin, Salk Institute, Marburg University, UMichigan, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Biotechnology Council of New Jersey/BioNJ

Millipore Donates $500K to HSCI Seed Grant Program
Millipore said last month that it has donated a $500,000 research gift to the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, a scientific collaborative within Harvard University and affiliated hospitals focused on stem cell research.
Millipore said that the gift will support the HSCI Seed Grant Program, which provides early funding for innovative projects in any field of stem cell research.
Brock Reeve, executive director of HSCI, said in a statement that Millipore is the first corporate donor to the HSCI Seed Grant Program.

IU Grants Spinout SpheroSense License to Biosensor Tech
Indiana University has granted a license to local biotech firm SpheroSense to develop market-ready biosensors, the university said last week.
The technology being licensed to SpheroSense was developed at IU’s Bloomington campus by doctoral student Dragos Amarie, chemistry professor Bogdan Dragnea, and physics professor and SpheroSense co-founder James Glazier.
One of the company’s primary goals is to produce a hand-held device that will monitor post-operative and trauma patients for early warning signs of sepsis of infection in the bloodstream, IU said.
The company has chosen headquarters for its R&D activities on Bloomington’s south side.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Novartis, MIT Partner Enter 10-Year, $65M Drug Production Partnership
Novartis and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week announced a 10-year, $65 million research collaboration aimed at changing pharmaceutical production, the Swiss drug maker said last week.
The partnership will manifest itself as the Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing, which will work to develop new technologies that could replace the conventional batch-based system in the pharmaceutical industry with continuous manufacturing processes from start to finish, Novartis said.
The initial research at the Novartis-MIT Center will be conducted primarily through PhD programs at MIT laboratories, and then transferred to Novartis for further development to industrial-scale projects.
The partners expect the work to involve seven to ten MIT faculty members, students, postdocs, and staff scientists. Novartis will commit its manufacturing and R&D resources and will pilot new manufacturing processes with one of its pharmaceutical products.

UChicago Spinout Chromatin Wins Funding from State Agencies
Chromatin, a spinout of the University of Chicago, said last week that it has received an undisclosed amount of funding from several state and university economic development and entrepreneurial agencies.
Specifically, Chromatin received funding from the Biotechnology/Bioscience Training Investment Program; the Illini-Entrepreneurship Center Network/Champaign County Economic Development Corporation; and the Internships in Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.
The funds will be used to further develop and licenses Chromatin’s gene-stacking technology, the company said.
The company currently has a partnership in place with Monsanto, and hopes that the new funding will allow it to launch additional partnerships with ag-biotech firms and non-profit entities, Chromatin said.

Salk Institute, Marburg University Join Thermo's RNAi Global Initiative
The Salk Institute for Biological Sciences and the University of Marburg have joined the RNAi Global Initiative, Thermo Fisher Scientific said last week.
Thermo Fisher described the initiative as an effort to pioneer whole-genome RNAi screening and to develop common research standards and share information to advance RNAi gene-silencing techniques.
The Salk Institute for Biological studies is expanding its genome-wide screening center, which will study cancer, metabolism, aging, basic and applied neurobiology, systems biology, and plant research, Thermo Fisher said.
A researcher at the University of Marburg will study the MYC oncogene, which plays a role in many human cancers. The Marburg research will include whole-genome siRNA screening to hunt for gene targets that may assist in developing cancer drugs.
The RNAi Global Initiative now counts 23 research institutions in 11 different nations among its members, Thermo Fisher said.

UMichigan Launches Taubman Medical Research Institute with $22M Gift
The University of Michigan last week said that it would launch a new biomedical research institute with a $22 million gift from philanthropist Alfred Taubman.
The Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute will be established at the UM Medical School. The institute will also fund research awards under the Taubman Scholar program. Awardees will receive a three-year grant worth $200,000 per year for research that “holds the potential to significantly advance the development of a cure or preventive treatment for a human disease,” UM said in a statement.
Concurrent to the announcement, the institute revealed the first five Taubman Scholars, chosen from faculty at the Medical School. The scholars are:
  • Valerie Castle, chair of the department of pediatrics and communicable diseases, for research related to causing “suicidal” cancer cells in childhood solid tumors
  • Eva Feldman, head of the UM program for neurology research and discovery and professor of neurology, for research on the use of stem cells to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • David Pinsky, chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine, professor of internal medicine, and director of the UM Cardiovascular Center, for research on proteins involved in preventing the formation of blood clots
  • Yehoash Raphael, professor of otolaryngology, for developing ways to grow stem cells into the “hair cells” necessary for human hearing implants
  • Max Wicha, founding director of the UM Comprehensive Cancer Canter and professor of oncology, for research related to the small number of cells that fuel the growth of tumors
The grants to these five researchers may be renewed at the end of three years depending on their productivity, UM said. Additional scholars may be chosen in the future as the endowment grows.

Biotech Council of NJ Changes Moniker to BioNJ
The former Biotechnology Council of New Jersey last week said that it has changed its name to BioNJ to better reflect its mission and future direction.
Specifically, BioNJ said its new name reflects the recent substantial growth of the organization and more closely aligns the organization with its national trade group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Founded in 1994, BioNJ comprises more than 220 member companies. Its primary focus is spurring the growth and prosperity of New Jersey’s biotechnology industry.
Consistent with the name change, BioNJ’s new website address is

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.