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George Washington University, Shenandoah University, Cytomyx, Ardais, Nano-Technologies, NSF, Metabolon, MGH, ParAllele, U of Iowa, Sequenom


George Washington, Shenandoah Universities to Launch Undergrad PGx Program

The George Washington University and Shenandoah University will launch an undergraduate program in pharmacogenomics in the fall semester of 2005, the schools said last week.

According to the universities, the undergraduate program will be the first of its kind in the US.

The program will begin accepting student applications this spring, the universities said. Students completing the program will receive a BS in health sciences.

The program will be located primarily at The George Washington University Virginia campus in Loudon County, the school said.

Cytomyx Buys Tissue Bank Business from Ardais for $3M

Cytomyx has bought the tissue bank business from Ardais for $3 million in cash, the Cambridge, UK-based company said this week.

Cytomyx purchased the newly formed subsidiary of Lexington, Mass.-based Ardais, called Biorepository Business. The subsidiary includes a tissue bank of more than 130,000 human tissue samples with clinical information, primarily from cancer patients. The business also offers tissue microarray and other molecular products as well as immunohistochemistry services. Last year, the business unit had $3.7 million in revenues.

Following the acquisition, Cytomyx will relocate its current US biorepository facility and key personnel from Albany, New York, to Ardais' Lexington facility. Cytomyx will also gain access to Ardais' web-searchable biospecimen management system.

Integrated Nano-Technologies Wins $500,000 NSF SBIR Grant for DNA Detection Tech

The National Science Foundation has awarded Integrated Nano-Technologies a two-year, $500,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant to further develop its DNA detection technology for biological agent detection, INT said this week.

The grant is build out INT's BioDetect platform, a portable system that integrates DNA and microelectronics to detect the presence of biological agents such as SARS, anthrax, and smallpox in as little as 20 minutes, INT said.

Metabolon, MGH Partner on Biomarker Discovery for Type I Diabetes

Metabolon and Massachusetts General Hospital hope to co-discover biomarkers for diabetic nephropathy in type I diabetes, Metabolon said this week.

The study has been funded by a two-year grant awarded to MGH's Darryl Palmer-Toy by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The amount of funding for fiscal year 2004, which began on Oct. 1, is worth $365,000.

Metabolon will test patient urine and plasma samples with its metabolomics platform to search for signatures that predict the likelihood of developing diabetic nephropathy, Metabolon said.

This is the second collaboration announced between Metabolon and MGH in the past year. In August, Metabolon and MGH announced a collaborative biomarker study for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

ParAllele and U of Iowa Partner on AMD Gene Discovery

ParAllele Bioscience is collaborating with the University of Iowa to accelerate the discovery of genes associated with age-related macular degeneration, the company said this week.

The research will be led by Gregory Hageman, a professor at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and will bring together U of Iowa's Cell Biology and Functional Genomics Laboratory, Department of Opthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Center for Macular Degeneration.

Hageman's work is funded by the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health and additional undisclosed corporate entities, ParAllele said.

Sequenom May Pay Non-Management Directors Up to $36K in 2005; Outlines Bonuses for Top Brass

By the end of 2005, Sequenom may have paid its non-management board members as much as $36,000 as the result of a compensation agreement recently signed by the company's board, according to documents filed with the SEC last week.

In the same document, Sequenom also outlined a 2005 bonus schedule for top management.

The company's board of directors approved on March 17 to pay its six non-management members $1,500 apiece for each "special" board meeting attended in person and $1,000 for each special meeting attended electronically, the SEC document said. Additionally, non-management board members will receive $1,000 for each special committee meeting attended personally or electronically, the document added.

Sequenom does not pay non-management directors to attend board meetings or committee meetings, the company said.

There is typically one special board meeting per year and as many as five special committee meeting per year, said a Sequenom spokesperson. Special committee meetings include audit committee, compensation committee, and nomination and governance committee meetings, she added.

Sequenom also said that its CEO and executive vice president of sales and marketing will receive as their 2005 bonuses 50 percent of their base salaries for the year. Bonuses for the chief financial officer and chief medical officer will be 35 percent of their total base salary; vice residents will receive 25 percent; and director-level employees 15 percent.

Sequenom's bonus program is based on "the achievement of total revenue and maximum cash burn targets and MassArray system sales and product launch milestones, completion of specified compliance objectives, and other criteria the disclosure of which would reveal confidential business information and plans of the registrant," the company said in the SEC filing.

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The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.