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NEW YORK – Purveyors of genomics research tools were lining up at last week's SynBioBeta conference in San Francisco, to sell materials and assays used to engineer and analyze microbes that could produce goods and materials in a number of global markets.

Agilent, Illumina, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Twist Bioscience were among the largest firms at this year's event, looking to engage with existing and potential customers who are trying to engineer biology — mainly microbes — to create new products in energy, materials, and agriculture.

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Kelvin Droegemeier, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is the new acting director of the US National Science Foundation.

An opinion piece at the Guardian discusses the state of SARS-CoV-2 testing in the UK.

Wired reports the University of California, Berkeley's Innovative Genomics Institute has transformed itself into a diagnostic lab to run SARS-CoV-2 tests.

In Nature this week: direct-capture Perturb-seq approach for combinatorial single-cell CRISPR screens, potential uses of genome-editing in breeding crops, and more.