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Geospiza, Lion Bioscience, InforMax, Cytopia, Weizmann Institute of Science

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Geospiza Snags Bioinformatics Education Grant

Geospiza of Seattle has been awarded its second grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education for the development of educational materials for bioinformatics.

The $500,000 award will support the hands-on bioinformatics workshops for community college and high school faculty that Geospiza has provided since it launched in 1997. So far, the company has developed web-based tutorials for using Blast and viewing the 3D protein structures of a protein, which are available through its website, www.geospiza.com/outreach.

 

Lion Inks Deals with Pfizer, Cleveland Clinic

Lion Bioscience of Heidelberg, Germany, has signed two new licensing agreements for its software: Pfizer has purchased a worldwide license for the company’s iDEA predictive ADME simulation software, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio, has installed Lion’s integration platform.

Details of the integration project at the Cleveland Clinic were not provided. Lion is in the process of combining its SRS database integration technology with the DiscoveryCenter platform Lion gained through its acquisition of NetGenics, but the fully integrated platform is not yet commercially available. The non-profit Clinic was founded in 1921 to merge clinical and hospital care with research and education.

Pfizer purchased a license for the absorption module of iDEA, and the agreement also includes an evaluation of iDEA’s metabolism module. The software will be available to all Pfizer Research & Development sites. In addition, Lion customized the software for high-throughput use at Pfizer’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, Laboratories.

Financial terms were not disclosed for either licensing agreement.

 

InforMax Announces Flurry of Academic Software Licenses

InforMax recently signed a number of agreements with academic groups for use of its desktop bioinformatics software.

The University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky have acquired site licenses for Vector NTI and Xpression NTI, which will give both universities and 10 affiliated educational institutions access to the software.

The software purchase is supported by a three-year grant the University of Louisville received from the National Institute of Health to upgrade the bioinformatics infrastructure for the state.

In addition, InforMax signed an institutional site license agreement with Auburn University for Vector NTI. Auburn’s Cellular and Molecular Biosciences program will integrate the software into an interdisciplinary program that includes the Colleges of Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Sciences & Mathematics, and Human Sciences. Approximately 600 graduate and undergraduate university students will have access to the software through the agreement.

Both license agreements were closed in March 2002, InforMax said, and the software has now been widely implemented and training has begun at both sites.

In addition, InforMax signed a distribution agreement with United Bioinformatica of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. UBI will provide InforMax’s desktop software solutions to researchers throughout Canada. “The Canadian market represents an increasingly important segment of the world biotechnology market,” said InforMax CEO Andrew Whiteley. “Our alliance with UBI will enable us to capitalize on this trend and deliver our unique software solutions to a greater number of researchers in this emerging life science market.”

 

Cytopia Buys IBM Supercomputer for Drug Screening

Australian biotechnology company Medica Holdings said it has purchased a Linux-based IBM supercomputer for its Melbourne-based subsidiary Cytopia.

Cytopia, which is developing drugs to treat immune disease and cancer, has developed proprietary software called Chemaphore to test how well molecules bind to proteins of interest.

Details of the Linux-based supercomputer were not available, but the company said it expects to use it to increase the speed and accuracy of the program 100 fold.

Cytopia was recently awarded an Aus$243,200 grant from the country’s Biotechnology Innovation Fund to further assist in the development of the software, which it plans to make commercially available in the future.

 

Weizmann Scientists Win CAPRI Experiment

A team of scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science said last week that they had the best result in the CAPRI (Critical Assessment of Prediction of Interactions) Challenge, an international competition modeled after the CASP (Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction) experiment, in which participants submit predictions of structures of protein-protein complexes prior to experimental determination.

CAPRI participants are given the structures of three individual molecules and submit their predictions for the resulting complexes prior to the experimental structures being made public. An independent group of assessors tests and compares all the predictions.

Sixteen teams from around the world submitted possible solutions for this year’s assessment.

The Weizmann researchers took rigid, three-dimensional computer models of the unbound molecules and then placed them in different orientations to one another. For each orientation, the molecules were shifted with respect to one another. The team evaluated each contact between the molecules and gave the contacts a score, based on how well they fit together. Each contact was judged on the basis of geometric and electrostatic fit.

The team modified the program to allow for small changes that occur when the proteins approach one another.

The first CAPRI evaluation meeting is scheduled to be held in Agelonde La Londe-des-Maures, France, September 19-21, 2002.

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