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Andrew von Eschenbach, David Harvey, Michael Hogan, David Julien, Jai Nagarkatti, Franklin Wicks, Jenny Graves, Sequenom, Biosoft International

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President Bush last week nominated Andrew von Eschenbach to head the US Food and Drug Administration, a potentially significant move for the pharmacogenomics community because von Eschenbach has been an outspoken supporter of genomic-related technologies in drug discovery.

The nomination was widely expected because von Eschenbach, who is director of the National Cancer Institute, has been acting-FDA commissioner since Lester Crawford resigned in September 2005. He must be confirmed by the Senate.

Von Eschenbach's background in cancer, along with recent statements he made, suggest that his tenure as FDA head may encourage the use of genomics and other molecular technologies in medicine.

For example, as head of the NCI since 2002, von Eschenbach pushed a program of translational research, and in recent comments before a Senate subcommittee hearing he announced a goal to eliminate cancer by 2015 through an understanding of the interaction of genetics and other factors.

"Scientific advances and major discoveries from areas such as genomics, nanotechnology, proteomics, immunology, and bioinformatics allow us to envision a not too-distant future when a patient's genetic, lifestyle, and environmental risk for cancer can be combined with effective prevention and early intervention strategies especially for those at high risk," von Eschenbach was quoted as saying by the Biotechnology Industry Organization in April 2005.

Von Eschenbach was named acting commissioner of the FDA in September 2005 following the resignation of Lester Crawford, and he has held that title concomitantly with his NCI job.

Prior to being named NCI chief, von Eschenbach worked as a doctor and executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for 25 years, reaching the post of executive vice president and chief academic officer.

He earned a medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1967, and worked as an instructor in urology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. From 1968 to 1971, von Eschenbach served as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Medical Corps.

Sigma-Aldrich last week announced 2005 cash bonuses for its top officials. David Harvey, the company's chairman, receives $584,000; Michael Hogan, chief financial officer, receives $260,000; David Julien, president of research specialties, receives $188,000; Sigma President and CEO Jai Nagarkatti receives $341,000; and Franklin Wicks, president of Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemicals, receives $194,000.


Jenny Graves was selected Asia-Pacific laureate of the L'oreal-Unesco 2006 awards for Women in Science, presented in Paris earlier this month.

Graves is the head of the comparative genomics research group at the Research School of Biological Sciences at the Australian National University. She is the director of the ARC Centre for Kangaroo Genomics at ANU and the University of Melbourne.

 

New Releases

Sequenom this week launched its EpiTyper quantitative methylation assay and its QGE iPlex quantitative gene expression analysis assay.

The EpiTyper quantitatively assesses methylation ratios simultaneously across multiple CpG sites and multiple samples, increasing scope and throughput, Sequenom said.

Sequenom's QGE iPlex can provide simultaneous expression results for 20 or more genes per reaction, the company said. The assay can reduce customers' reagent costs per data point, and provide more data per time interval, it said.


Biosoft International this week launched AlleleID version 2.0, which the company said can enable the design of microarrays and qPCR diagnostic assays for rapid detection of pathogens or bacteria.

Biosoft said that AlleleID aligns the sequences and analyzes species-specific regions to design probes for microarrays and primers and probes for TaqMan or molecular beacon qPCR assays. For cross-species assays, Biosoft said that AlleleID identifies conserved regions of related organisms to help study gene expression when genome draft of the organism under study is not available.

The company recommended AlleleID v 2.0 for use in applications for environmental monitoring, in prevention and control of infectious diseases, development of surveillance tests and biodiversity studies.

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