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Compugen, Integrated Genomics and Degussa, Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative, IT.Omics and OmniViz, Gene Network Sciences and Ariadne, Neurocrine and Genedata, and NIH

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Compugen Plans Reorganization, 25 Percent Reduction in Force

Compugen said last weekend that it has begun a reorganization that will include a 25-percent cut in its workforce — which is currently around 120 people, according to news reports.

The company said in a statement that it is being reorganized into three units: a therapeutics unit, a diagnostic biomarkers unit, and a research and discovery unit.

Compugen said that the therapeutics arm's primary short-term focus is "the ongoing in vitro and in vivo validation of a large number of potential therapeutic proteins predicted by the company's initial discovery engines." This unit will be headed by Noam Shani, previously vice president of biology R&D.

The diagnostic biomarkers unit will be lead by Anat Cohen-Dayag, previously director of diagnostics within the biology R&D division, the company said, and will consolidate all of Compugen's activities in the field of diagnostic biomarkers.

The R&D unit was established to "provide new discoveries for evaluation by the therapeutic and diagnostic business units, as well as to be responsible for the creation of additional discovery engines and other platforms and technologies," Compugen said. This unit will be headed by Yossi Cohen, previously director of science and technology.

In conjunction with the reorganization, Compugen said that it will eliminate certain activities deemed to not directly support its corporate strategy. As a result, the company's headcount will be reduced by about 30 people, with an expected expenditure decrease of between $2 million to $3 million per year in 2006 and 2007, compared with 2005.


Integrated Genomics Licenses Ergo System to Degussa

Integrated Genomics said last week that it has licensed its Ergo microbial genomics database and genomic discovery system to Degussa.

According to Integrated Genomics, Degussa will use the Ergo system to optimize its production strains and find new methods of high-yield production of amino acids and other specialty chemicals.

Integrated Genomics said that the Degussa project is expected to run through 2006.

Additional terms were not disclosed.


Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative to Propose Data Standard

The Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative, an alliance of reagent provider Dharmacon and international non-profit biomedical research centers, said last week that it had determined to "identify standards that will facilitate generation of reproducible intra-laboratory results" at its first meeting.

The standards effort will be called MIARE, for Minimal Information About RNAi Experiments.

Dharmacon established the initiative in order to facilitate the use of its siArray human genome siRNA library by research institutions in order to accelerate drug discovery and development.

According to a statement Dharmacon issued last week, the first meeting "focused on developing standardized procedures for data gathering intended to accelerate the group's progress."

The initiative members plan to meet twice a year, Dharmacon added.


IT.Omics to Integrate Network-Analysis Software with OmniViz

IT.Omics of Lille, France, said last week that it would integrate its LS-Graph network-analysis software with the OmniViz visualization platform from OmniViz.

LS-Graph automates the generation of graphs from various sources.

"Enabling users of LS-Graph to seamlessly couple into the unique OmniViz visualization and mining software will expand the scope of LS-Graph and provide a framework that supports rapid and more efficient decision-making," said Emmanuel Jospin, CEO of IT.Omics, in a statement.


GNS Licenses Ariadne's PathwayStudio Software

Gene Network Sciences has licensed Ariadne Genomics' PathwayStudio Central software to interpret newly discovered gene networks, Ariadne said last week.

The software comes with ResNet database of more than 500,000 functional relationships and the MedScan tool for automatic extraction of information from scientific literature.

Financial details were not disclosed.


Neurocrine Licenses Genedata's Expressionist

Biopharmaceutical company Neurocrine Biosciences has licensed Genedata's Expressionist software for biomarker discovery, Genedata said last week.

Neurocrine will use Expressionist in a pre-clinical discovery program focusing on neurological and endocrine related diseases and disorders.

Scientists at Neurocrine have already used Expressionist to process and evaluate more than 1,500 microarrays, said Bill Wilson, Neurocrine's head of information technology, in a statement.

Financial details were not disclosed.


NIH Pilot Project Expects to Cut Grant Review Time in Half

The National Institutes of Health last week launched a pilot program designed to shorten the peer-review process for investigators applying for grants.

NIH said it expects the pilot to cut the review cycle, which currently takes more than nine months, in half.

The pilot, scheduled to start in February, will target researchers applying for their first R01 grants.

"I am particularly pleased that the pilot phase will be focused on new investigators who are the most vulnerable in times of budgetary constraints and often do not have the resources to withstand long review cycles," said NIH Director, Elias Zerhouni, in a statement.

NIH's Center for Scientific Review will initiate the pilot in 40 of its scientific review panels in February. Investigators will receive reviewer comments approximately four months earlier than the current process, allowing them to revise and resubmit their applications for the next review.

Currently CSR's grant review process takes six months and involves more than 15,000 outside scientific experts. NIH institutes and centers that fund grants typically spend another three months on a second review. Outside experts make final recommendations before the individual institute and center directors make their final funding decisions.

Toni Scarpa, director of the CSR, said in a statement that NIH will employ "new electronic and management tools" to speed the review process "while preserving the rigor and fairness of NIH peer review."

 

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