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Greg Lucier, Brent Jacobs, Duncan Whitney, Andrew von Eschenbach, Lester Crawford, Douglas Throckmorton, GE Healthcare, Ambion, ABI, MDS Sciex, Sigma-Aldrich, PerkinElmer, NCI


Greg Lucier, president and CEO of Invitrogen, has been elected to the board of trustees of The Burnham Institute for Medical Research. Also elected to the board was Brent Jacobs, founder of Biocom, a life sciences industry association representing companies in San Diego and Southern California.

Duncan Whitney has joined US Genomics as vice president of research and development. Whitney will lead efforts to further develop the firm's single molecule technology. He previously held senior management positions at Exact Sciences, Molecular Geodesics, Polaroid, and PerSeptive Biosystems, which later merged with Applied Biosystems.

Andrew von Eschenbach was named acting commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, following the resignation of former commissioner Lester Crawford in September.

Von Eschenbach has been director of the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, since January 2002. Before that, he worked as a doctor and executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Douglas Throckmorton has been named deputy director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research by the FDA. Throckmorton joined the FDA in 1997 and has been acting deputy director of CDER since May 2004.

Before joining the FDA, Throckmorton practiced medicine and held academic appointments at the Medical College of Georgia and the VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.

BioCommerce Briefs

GE Healthcare to Manufacture miRNA Assays
For Ambion, Buys Health IT Firm

GE Healthcare will manufacture microRNA microarrays on its CodeLink platform for Ambion, the companies said last week.

These arrays, called mirVana miRNA microarrays, include a panel of known human, mouse, and rat miRNAs, as well as Ambion's "proprietary" and "non-published" microRNAs, called Ambi-miRs. Ambion will market the arrays, according to a company spokesperson.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Also last week, GE Healthcare said it would acquire IDX Systems, a healthcare information technology provider, for $1.3 billion in cash. GE said it would pay $44 for each share of IDX stock — a 25 percent premium over the share price the day the deal was announced.

The acquisition will combine GE Healthcare's Centricity information technology products with IDX's clinical and imaging information systems. The combined businesses have sales of nearly $1.4 billion.

ABI/MDS Sciex Sell 21 Mass Specs to CDC, State Health Labs

Applied Biosystems and its joint venture partner MDS Sciex have sold 21 mass spectrometry systems to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several state health laboratories as part of their Laboratory Response Network, a nationwide network of labs to detect biological and chemical threats, ABI said this week.

The labs will use the API 4000 LC/MS/MS systems to identify toxic chemicals in human blood or urine samples.

ABI has already supplied real-time PCR systems to the Laboratory Response Network for biological detection, according to the company.

Sigma-Aldrich Creates Biosciences Entity

Sigma-Aldrich announced this week that it has created a new entity within its Fine Chemicals (SAFC) unit, called SAFC Biosciences.

SAFC Biosciences comprises the firm's biopharmaceutical development and cell culture-related manufacturing services, including the operations of JRH Biosciences, which Sigma-Aldrich acquired earlier this year for $370 million (see BioCommerce Week 1/20/2005).

The SAFC unit has annual sales of roughly $425 million.

PerkinElmer to Sell GenEd Online Life Sciences Course

PerkinElmer will use GeneEd's custom eLearning capabilities and will resell catalog eLearning courses globally, the company said this week.

GeneEd has already developed an "atomic absorption" course for PerkinElmer, and plans to develop a course for "inductively coupled plasma and chromatography systems," GeneEd said.

In addition, PerkinElmer customers will have access to GeneEd's catalog of biopharma technology courses through PerkinElmer's website.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

NCI to Issue Two Proteomics-Based RFPs This Fall

The National Cancer Institute plans to issue a pair of RFPs this fall as part of its Clinical Proteomic Technologies Initiative.

The CPTI is an "integrated approach to develop and enhance proteomic technology capabilities to support the reliable discovery and measurement of cancer-associated proteins from readily accessible biological fluids," NCI said on its web site.

The first RFP will aim to create multiple 5-year awards to establish the Clinical Proteomic Technology Assessment Consortia through NIH U24 cooperative agreement funding mechanisms. The goal of the consortia will be "to optimize and standardize proteomic technology platforms, with an emphasis on mass spectrometry (MS)-based and affinity capture-based approaches," NCI said on its web site.

As part of the research, multidisciplinary teams will be required to address technology engineering, statistical design, and quantitative pathological assessments as applied to furthering our understanding of basic and clinical mechanisms of cancer, NCI said. A "key component" of the consortia will be to develop inter-laboratory protocols and analysis of biological samples from both mouse models and clinical specimens.

The CPTAC programs will support two overarching aims: to "develop and refine MS-based and affinity capture-based proteomic platforms to improve key factors such as experimental reproducibility, specificity, and mass accuracy, dynamic range, peptide/protein identification, individual peptide/protein quantification, sample throughput, and per sample/unit cost;" and "to develop a systematic assessment of the procedures and methodologies to minimize variability in MS and affinity capture-based measurements and data analyses," NCI said.

"Through standardizations and improvements, the CPTACs should aim to collectively identify and validate at least 1000 reproducible features of interest in cancer biospecimens by the end of the 5-year program and, at the same time, identify technologically superior platforms for MS-based and affinity capture-based proteomic analyses," NCI said.

These consortia will also "serve as critical sources of protocol development, education, and training to support standardized proteomic research platforms across the cancer research enterprise," NCI added.

The second RFP will aim to "support investigator-initiated projects in Advanced Proteomic Platforms, Analytical Methods, and Computational Sciences to overcome current barriers in protein/peptide feature detection, identification, and quantification and develop mathematical, computational, and predictive approaches for the analysis and facile exchange of large-scale proteomic data," according to NCI.

The program is intended to "improve the development of technological and computational platforms that advance the performance of proteomic detection and identification in complex biological mixtures from mouse models and clinical specimens," NCI said.

Applicants "should demonstrate strong capabilities in statistical analysis and quality assurance of data. The R01 grant mechanism will be used to support bioinformatics and computational science programs, whereas the R21 and R33 mechanisms will be used to support the proteomic technology platforms. The goals of these projects include (but are not limited to) increased instrumental resolution capabilities, development of novel or advanced peptide/protein discovery technologies, integration of data and results from different analysis platforms, validation of proteomic methods and technologies, and improvements in data mining algorithms and data exchange formats."

The CPTI will "support the development of standards, resources, and clinical proteomic platforms for cancer research by harnessing efforts to establish standard references, quality control measures, and informatics platforms capable of aggregating and comparing data," NCI said.

These funding opportunities will be open to US-based academic, nonprofit, and for-profit institutions. NCI added that foreign institutions may be invited by eligible applicants to participate as subcontractors.

The Scan

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.

Fragile X Syndrome Mutations Found With Comprehensive Testing Method

Researchers in Clinical Chemistry found fragile X syndrome expansions and other FMR1 mutations with ties to the intellectual disability condition using a long-range PCR and long-read sequencing approach.

Team Presents Strategy for Speedy Species Detection in Metagenomic Sequence Data

A computational approach presented in PLOS Computational Biology produced fewer false-positive species identifications in simulated and authentic metagenomic sequences.

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.