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BETHESDA, Md.--The Directorate for Biological Sciences of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it will begin offering approximately 20 annual postdoctoral research fellowships of $50,000 per year for two or three years in biological informatics, pending availability of funds.

LONDON--Beowulf Genomics, a nonprofit initiative established in February by the Wellcome Trust, has released its first complete sequence. The project sequenced the microbial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, a major cause of diarrhea. Said to be the world s largest medical research charity, the trust established Beowulf with initial funding of 7million to coordinate efforts on sequencing microbial pathogens related to human and animal health.

NEW YORK--The Health Care Information Systems and Bioinformatics Conference held here November 12 was promoted by sponsor Punk Ziegel as the first and only investment-bank-sponsored conference for bioinformatics companies. The meeting aimed to stimulate awareness among investors and identify strategic opportunities for the industry.

WASHINGTON--President Clinton is expected to sign legislation this month to raise the number of temporary work visas available to highly skilled foreign workers employed by US companies.

DENVER--Concerns about how to handle the rush of new human genome sequence data dominated bioinformatics talk at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, held here October 27-31. Speakers contended that the influx of new DNA information is outpacing scientists ability to use it, and that bioinformatics is a weak link in the genomic sequencing community.

TRIESTE--The International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) this year celebrates 10 years of serving biologists in the developing world. BioInform spoke recently with Sandor Pongor, head of the center s Protein Structure and Function/Biocomputing Group and node manager of ICGEBnet, about the anniversary.

NEW YORK--A report on the pharmaceutical industry released by Pricewaterhouse Coopers this month said that bioinformatics technologies will be a major key to drug discovery success in the next decade.

ROCKVILLE, Md.--Celera Genomics, the new unit of Perkin-Elmer that aims to complete a sequence of the entire human genome within three years, has selected Compaq Computer to design and maintain its IT infrastructure, based on Compaq s Alpha architecture. Celera President Craig Venter has said he intends to make his company the definitive source of genomic and medical information.

LONDON--Ken Powell, CEO of Inpharmatica, a bioinformatics solutions provider launched here this year, claimed his new company will fill a niche in bioinformatics not by commercializing its proprietary tools, but by applying them in-house to pharmaceutical companies data. The strategy of the firm, which was established by University College London, the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, five leading academicians, and Unibio, a provider of venture funding, will be to offer genomics data analysis and target discovery on a contract basis.

NEW YORK--No two pharmaceutical company bioinformatics directors are likely to give the same definition for the term pharmacogenomics, but all agree on one thing: it s going to make their jobs much more complicated. I keep telling people that pharmacogenomics is what s going to keep me and a lot of people who are pretty young right now employed until retirement age, observed Douglas Bigwood, worldwide coordinator of bioinformatics at Bayer Pharmaceuticals in West Haven, Conn.

BURLINGAME, Calif.--Five proposals for biomolecular sequence analysis interface specifications were submitted for consideration at a meeting of the Life Sciences Research domain task force of the Object Management Group at a week-long meeting here this month. Eight bioinformatics companies and organizations responded to a request for proposals released by the task force, which was formed last year to establish standards that will allow interoperability among CORBA-based tools used in life sciences research.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla.--Close to 2,000 attendees are expected at the 10th International Genome Sequencing and Analysis Conference (GSAC) here September 17-20. Conference organizers said recordbreaking numbers of exhibitors, researchers, and industry representatives have been attracted by a diverse and rigorous agenda, a chance to network in a field rife with job openings and partnership opportunities, and a larger and more accessible venue. The announcement earlier this year by Craig Venter, president of conference sponsor the Institute for Genomic Research, of his ambition to sequence the human genome within three years also probably did not hurt registration numbers, organizers conceded.

RESTON, Va.--An agenda anchored by two-hour tutorials on hidden Markov models, database systems for genomic applications, and novel tools for target validation is expected to attract nearly 250 attendees to the Conference on Computational Genomics here October 31-November 3.

WOBURN, Mass.--In a deal its participants claim is one of the largest ever in bioinformatics, Compugen here has signed a three-year, multimillion-dollar-per-year agreement with the Parke-Davis division of Warner-Lambert that makes Parke-Davis the first partner for Compugen s Leads bioinformatics platform.

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Molecular Applications Group and Affymetrix announced a collaboration last week in which Affymetrix s GeneChip will be the platform that will allow the coupling of quantitative differential gene expression data with Molecular Applications data mining and visualization technologies.

NEW YORK--Last week two bioinformatics companies announced separate deals that marked the first time either firm had licensed bioinformatics tools to major life sciences companies for use in agricultural, as well as pharmaceutical, research. Spotfire, of Cambridge, Mass., and Pangea Systems, of Oakland, Calif., signed the agreements with DuPont and Monsanto, respectively.

WASHINGTON--An interim report released in August by the President s Information Technology Advisory Committee here called current levels of federal investment in information technology research dangerously inadequate and recommended spending increases of roughly a billion dollars over the next five years.

WASHINGTON--A 20 percent spending increase for the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), approved as part of a $2 billion US National Institutes of Health funding increase in the 1999 federal budget package, will go largely to support advanced technological developments that will assist the Human Genome Project. Developing strength in bioinformatics and computational biology is one of eight main goals described in the project s new five-year plan, which was published in the October 23 issue of Science.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.--As pharmaceutical, life sciences, and biotech companies struggle to fill bioinformatics slots with qualified candidates, US institutions of higher education are beginning to respond to industry s need. PhD, master s, and undergraduate degree programs in bioinformatics are cropping up at universities around the country. BioInform surveyed a few programs to learn how students are being prepared for positions in this burgeoning discipline, and what challenges face the schools training the next generation of bioinformaticists.

RESTON, Va.--The Second Annual Conference on Computational Genomics, held here October 31-November 3, attracted more attendees and a stronger industry presence than last year. David Searls, vice-president and director of bioinformatics for SmithKline Beecham, was conference cochair along with Anthony Kerlavage of Celera Genomics. The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) Science Education Foundation sponsored the event.

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