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People in the News: Aug 7, 2009

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - Francis Collins will take the reins as director of the National Institutes of Health after the US Senate today confirmed him for the post.

In a statement, Kathleen Sebelius, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, called Collins "one of our generation's great scientific leaders."

Collins was director of the National Human Genome Research Institute from 1993 to 2008 and led the international Human Genome Project.

He is credited with the discovery of several important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, a familial endocrine cancer syndrome, and genes for adult onset diabetes and the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.

Collins holds a BS in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a PhD in physical chemistry from Yale University, and an MD from the University of North Carolina.

Robert Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities, said in a statement issued today that Collins is "the leader NIH needs to pursue today's extraordinary opportunities in biomedical research."

Sharon Terry, president and CEO of Genetic Alliance, said that Collins "enables collaboration, partnerships, and innovation to create the new systems we need in the genomic era."

US President Barack Obama has named University of Chicago scientist Janet Rowley a winner of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom award.

Rowley is known as a pioneering cancer researcher who is credited with discovering an array of genetic traits associated with leukemia and lymphoma, and in showing that cancer is a genetic disease.

The National Human Genome Research Institute's Alan Guttmacher said in a statement that Rowley has "stood at the forefront of applying basic science to problems seen in the clinic," and has "helped blaze a trail for future generations of physician scientists."

Rowley will receive the award in a White House ceremony on Aug. 12.

Exact Sciences has appointed Graham Lidgard as chief scientific officer. Lidgard recently was senior VP of R&D at Nanogen, he led the R&D organization at Gen-Probe, and he was co-founder and VP of product development at Matritech, which was acquired by Inverness Medical Innovations. He also held senior positions at Ciba Corning Diagnostics.

The molecular diagnostics company SIRS-Lab has tapped Barbara Staehelin to be its CEO. Stahelin is a life sciences entrepreneur focused on the diagnostics industry who has served as a member of the global executive committee at Roche Diagnostics.

Fluorotechnics has appointed Lars Utterman to be a non-executive director. Utterman is CEO of the transporter protein measurements company IonGate Biosciences, and he is chairman of Cellectricon, Gyros, and Ludesi.

PerkinElmer has appointed Lapo Paladini to the newly created position of chief marketing officer and senior vice president. Paladini formerly was president of Asia Pacific, East Europe, Africa, and South America at PerkinElmer. He also worked with the company in its sales and service operations in Europe for its Analytical Instruments and Analytical Sciences divisions.

Sequenom has named Mary Keller to serve as VP of clinical operations. Before joining Sequenom, Keller was VP, global clinical development for Shire Pharmaceuticals and she was head of development operations and clinical trial recruitment services for Pfizer global R&D.