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Duke University, Heriot-Watt University, ITI Life Sciences, GLS, MHTSC, Invitrogen, Accelrys, ToxCast

$14.5M Grant Will Establish SystemsBiologyCenter at Duke
Duke University has pocketed a five-year, $14.5 million grant from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences to establish a “national” systems biology center in the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, the school said this week.
The new center will study “basic biology and human disease” through research that integrates biology, statistics, computer science, mathematics, physics, and engineering, according to a statement.
The IGSP will use the funding initially to embark on six projects “involving the study of regulatory networks controlling yeast and mammalian cell cycles, development in plant roots and embryos, and population variation in yeast and sea urchins,” Duke said.
The center will offer sabbaticals and fellowships to researchers and will involve undergraduate students who are working on a Duke research initiative underway with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The center will also add systems biology components to graduate education programs, teach several new undergraduate systems biology courses, and administer a certificate program designed for biology, mathematics, and computer science majors.

Heriot-WattUniversity Joins ITI Stem Cell Program
ITI Life Sciences this week announced that Heriot-Watt University has joined its £9.5 million ($19.3 million) stem cell technologies R&D program, which started in January 2007.
Heriot-Watt will join Glasgow and Dundee Universities and biotech firm Cellartis in the research program to develop new technologies to automate the production of high-quality human stem cells.
Heriot-Watt joins the ITI program as it advances through its second phase of development. This phase began in May 2007 and is designed to identify new compounds that induce human embryonic stem cells to differentiate into desired cell types.
Heriot-Watt will use its experience in medicinal chemistry to optimize the most promising compounds to induce, consistently and controllably, the desired changes in hES cells.

GLS and MHTSC Enter Partnership
Global Lifescience Solutions, an NSF International Company offering contract research services to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, this week announced a new partnership with the Michigan High-Throughput Screening Center. This partnership is the first in the state of Michigan to offer expanded scientific research solutions.
MHTSC is a not-for-profit, contract research laboratory that provides assay development and high-throughput screening services without licensing fees or royalties. Together, GLS and MHTSC will assist companies in identifying potential leads for drug discovery. 
New service offerings under the partnership include prescreening services, assay development, follow-up services, and high content screening.

Invitrogen’s Q2 Revenue Rises 13 Percent as Profit Doubles
Invitrogen said this week that its second-quarter revenue climbed 13 percent as R&D spending rose 11 percent and net income was up 108 percent.
Total receipts for the three months ended June 30, 2007 rose to $321.7 million from $285.4 million year over year.
Invitrogen’s Biodiscovery sales rose 10 percent to $223 million for the second quarter, while its Cell Culture Systems division saw revenue rise 20 percent to $99 million.
R&D spending increased to $28.6 million from $25.8 million year over year.
The company said net income grew to $40.9 million from $19.7 million in the year-ago period. This year's profit includes $11.5 million in income from discontinued operations compared with $678,000 for the same item in last year's second quarter.
Invitrogen said it had around $570.1 million in cash and equivalents and short-term investments as of June 30, 2006.
The company said it expects full-year revenue growth for 2007 to be in the mid-single digits.
Also this week, Invitrogen said it completed its 2006 $500 million share re-purchase program, with the purchase of 700,000 shares for $50 million within the quarter.
The company's board of directors has approved another three-year, $500 million share repurchase program.

Accelrys Q1 Revenues Flat as Loss Swings to Profit
Accelrys this week reported a half-a-percent decrease in fiscal first-quarter 2008 revenues as R&D spending was trimmed 15 percent and the company turned its quarterly loss to a profit.
Total receipts for the three months ended June 30, 2007, dipped to $20.1 million from $20.2 million year over year.
Accelrys said its revenue for the quarter was “favorably impacted” by continued growth in its scientific operating platform product line, but company CEO Mark Emkjer added that that growth in part “was offset by some continued erosion in our legacy products.”
Emkjer said the company expects the release of its Discovery Studio 2.0 and its Materials Studio 4.2 software, scheduled for this quarter, to “begin to stabilize our legacy revenue stream in the ensuing quarters ahead.”
R&D spending decreased to $4.3 million from $5.1 million year over year.
Net income was $1.4 million compared with a loss of $329,000 in the year-ago period.
Accelrys said cost controls it implemented over the past two years helped it reduce its loss for the quarter.
Accelrys said it had around $68.7 million in cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities as of June 30.

List of Chemicals for ToxCast Phase I Released
EPA's National Center for Computational Toxicology this week released a list of 340 chemicals that will be evaluated during Phase I of its ToxCast research program (see CBA News, 4/13/07).
The compounds will be examined to determine their chemical signatures in hundreds of high-throughput screening bioassays.
These chemical signatures will then be compared to known toxicity data in this proof-of-concept phase. Patterns that indicate which compounds are harmful to people and the environment are expected to emerge.
The results of Phase I are expected in 2008, and will be posted on the ToxCast web site.
Phase II will involve a larger, more diverse set of chemicals and test the predictability of patterns identified in Phase I.

In Phase III, ToxCast will expand the list to thousands of environmental chemicals, delivering an affordable, science-based system for decision-makers.

The Scan

Guidelines for Ancient DNA Work

More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.