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People In The News: Oct 5, 2012

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The J. Craig Venter Institute has appointed Karen Nelson as President and Robert Friedman as chief operating officer. They will report to Craig Venter, who will continue to lead JCVI as founder, CEO, and chairman of the board of trustees.

Nelson has been at JCVI since 1996 and will continue to serve as director of the institute's offices in Rockville, Md., and leader of the Human Genomic Medicine Group. She will remain based in Rockville.

Friedman has been with the institute since 2003 and he is director of the San Diego facility and head of the JCVI Policy Group. He will keep those duties but will take on more administrative leadership responsibilities.


XDx has named Peter Maag to be its president and CEO, effective immediately, the molecular diagnostics company said this week. Maag previously was president of Novartis Diagnostics, where he ran the company's blood screening business and created a strategy for the company's investment into developing diagnostics for transplantation, infectious disease, and prenatal care. He also was country president for Novartis Pharma in Germany and held other positions at Novartis after working at McKinsey and Company.


Felix Frueh has joined Third Rock Ventures as an entrepreneur-in-residence to provide the venture capital firm with strategic guidance on personalized medicine companies, Third Rock said this week.

Frueh formerly was associate director for genomics at the US Food and Drug Administration, where he led the genomics core team at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and chaired the interdisciplinary pharmacogenomics review group.

He sits on the board of the Personalized Medicine Coalition and is an adjunct faculty member at the Institute for Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Frueh also previously was president of the Medco Research Institute, where he led research initiatives and collaborations and formed the company's personalized medicine initiatives.


Microbiologist and California Institute of Technology Professor Sarkis Masmanian has been named a 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, an accolade that carries a $500,000 award, the foundation said this week.

Mazmanian's research focuses on the interplay between and co-evolution of microbes and hosts, and the human microbiome. He has proposed that harmless bacteria induce immune tolerance by changing pathways that distinguish host from pathogen, a distinction that may be lost in cases of autoimmune disease. His lab uses genomic, microbiologic, and immunologic methods and animal models to define the molecular processes that symbiotic bacteria have evolved that mediate protection in the hosts from autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.


Ilia Ichetovkin has been named VP of lab operations at Sera Prognostics, where he will head development and deployment of the company's CLIA lab services and the commercial launch of a diagnostic test to predict preterm birth risk.

Ichetovkin formerly was head of oncology at Vela Diagnostics, director of US lab operations with LabCorp Clinical Trials, and head of clinical diagnostics and biomarker development at Abraxis Bioscience.


The UK's Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) said this week that Jane Rogers will step down as the center's director at the end of the year. Rogers has directed TGAC, which is located in the Norwich Research Park and is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, for five years.

TGAC's current head of bioinformatics, Mario Caccamo, will temporarily lead the institute until a new director is named.


Molecular biologist Leonard Lerman died on Sept. 19 in Cambridge, Mass., at the age of 87, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he had been a senior lecturer and researcher.

Lerman in the 1950s and 1960s discovered that certain chemicals insert into DNA through intercalation, which requires base pairs to separate and can lead to mutations but which also enabled innovations in manipulating DNA. Lerman also developed methods for using gel electrophoresis to detect single base changes in DNA and to separate DNA fragments by sequence that have helped to enable modern genetics and genomics research.

Over his career, Lerman held faculty posts at The University of Colorado School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, and the State University of New York at Albany.

According to The New York Times, Lerman died from complications related to a chronic neurological disease.


BD Diagnostics said this week that Paul Bourbeau has joined the company as director of North American Scientific Affairs of Diagnostic Systems. Bourbeau formerly was director of microbiology at Geisinger Medical Laboratories. In the new position, he will guide molecular diagnostics and lab automation programs from BD Diagnostics' office in Sparks, Md.


Accelrys has tapped Lief Pedersen to be senior VP of marketing, product management, and corporate development. Pedersen formerly was a VP with Siemens, where he was responsible for several global markets, and he was a VP at UGS until it was bought by Siemens.


Biomarker Strategies has appointed Jack Davis to be executive chairman. Davis will serve as both chairman of the board and as the senior strategic management adviser for the firm. Davis was a co-founder, president, CEO, chairman, and chief operating officer of Dianon Systems, and he also was division VP and GM of Abbott Diagnostics' diagnostic products unit.


Response Genetics has hired James Wynne to be VP of sales and marketing, a new position. Wynne formerly was director of sales for the UCLA Medical Center, and he recently was involved in sales and marketing at Clarient.


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