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People In The News: Oct 2, 2009

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – George Church has been elected to serve on Sigma-Aldrich's board of directors, the firm said today. Church is professor of genetics at the Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Computational Genetics in Cambridge, Mass. He played a key role in the Human Genome Project and is a co-founder of the start-up consumer genomics firm Knome and synthetic biology firm Codon Devices. He also has been co-developing the Polonator, a second-generation sequencing system, with Danaher.

Sigma-Aldrich also announced that it has appointed George Miller to the post of SVP, general counsel and secretary. Miller most recently served as general counsel in the New York office of Novartis.

Gail Javitt has left the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University, where she spent seven years and most recently was law and policy director, to take a position at the law firm of Sidley Austin.

In her new role, Javitt's practice will focus on US Food and Drug Administration regulation of lab developed tests and in vitro diagnostic medical devices, pharmacogenomics, genetic testing, the legal aspects of global clinical research, and biobanks regulation. Javitt plans to remain on the faculty at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University.

Olink Bioscience has appointed Patrik Dahlén, former CEO of cancer diagnostics company Dako, to be the company's chairman of the board.

Prior to his tenure at Dako, Dahlén was CEO of the Danish biotech company Biolmag. Before that, he was president of life sciences and senior vice president at PerkinElmer.

Ulf Landegren, Olink's co-founder and former chairman of the board, will continue to serve as a director, Olink Bio said.

RNA research pioneer Mahlon Hoagland died recently at his home in Vermont. In his research at Massachusetts General Hospital, Hoagland co-discovered transfer RNA with Paul Zamecnik. He conducted research for years at the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research, which was founded in part by his father, Hudson Hoagland, in 1944. He also spent a year working with Francis Crick at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. He wrote the book "The Way Life Works: The Science Lover's Illustrated Guide to How Life Grows, Develops and Reproduces, and Gets Along,"

Caris Diagnostics has appointed Chris Roberts to be VP of its Target Now oncology franchise. Before joining Caris, Roberts worked for Ventana Medical Systems, where he was involved in launching new diagnostic test kits.

This year's Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research has been awarded to the University of Michigan's Arul Chinnaiyan, Matthew Meyerson at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and David Sabatini at the Whitehead Institute. The $50,000 prize was named for Paul Marks, who was president of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Chinnaiyan received the award for his finding that more than half of all prostate cancers are the result of a specific gene fusion, which results in encoding a cancer-causing protein. Meyerson has specialized in lung cancer genomics, and has been involved in determining the role that mutations play in the epidermal growth factor receptor. David Sabatini identified the mTOR protein kinase, an important protein in regulating cell growth, proliferation, and survival, and he has continued studying the protein and its signalling pathway.

Malcolm Casadaban, an associate professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and of Microbiology at the University of Chicago, died on Sept. 13 at the age of 60. While he was a graduate student at Harvard University in the 1970s Casadaban invented gene-fusion techniques to isolate specific bacterial genes that prevented them from being expressed.

"His approach was copied and altered for new purposes and is still in use today. It introduced the idea of scanning the chromosome by gene fusions, which has since been applied to many problems, including bacterial pathogenesis," Casadaban's former mentor at Harvard Medical School, Jonathan Beckwith, said in a statement.

News reports have said that Casadaban might have died from exposure to a plague-related bacterium.

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