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Geospiza Pens Distribution Deal with Rikei; Works with NCBI on Educational Materials

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Geospiza has signed a deal with Japan’s Rikei Corporation for non-exclusive distribution rights to Geospiza’s Finch Server in Japan.

The agreement is on an annual basis with an option for renewal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Geospiza spokesman Todd Smith said that the partnership should help the company build its presence in the Asian market. Geospiza currently has one sale in Korea, he said, and Rikei expects to sell three more Finch systems in Asia by the end of the year.

“They will act as the front line, identifying customers. We’ll be distributing through them and working with them to provide support and systems integration,” said Smith.

On another front, Geospiza recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop instructional materials for bioinformatics education in US high schools and colleges.

Sandra Porter, senior scientist at Geospiza and principal investi-gator on the grant, will train high school and college instructors to use the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s web-based bioinformatics tools. It is anticipated that students who use bioinformatics as a tool for inquiry-based research will have a better understanding of modern biology as well as new computer-based research skills.

“Having students use bioinformatics is one of the most effective strategies I’ve found for teaching concepts in biology,” Porter said.

In the first phase of the grant, which will run through December 31, 2001, with an estimated amount of $54,800, Porter will prepare activities and exercises to be evaluated by faculty members of high schools and colleges. A second phase would involve the development and preparation of educational materials such as lab manuals, software tools, or illustrative datasets.

Smith said that the company views the effort is a means of contributing to the community as well as a way to increase awareness of Geospiza’s products among future bioinformaticists.

“I see it as a branch of the company that, if it can sustain itself, is well worth the investment,” he said.

— BT

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