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India Draft Biotech Strategy, Reel Two, Microsoft, Incogen, Spotfire

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India Proposes Several 'Strategic Actions' for
Bioinformatics as Part of Draft Biotech Strategy

India's Ministry of Science and Technology has included several "strategic actions" in the area of bioinformatics under a broader national biotechnology strategy that it recently released for comment.

Posted on the Department of Biotechnology's website on March 31, the draft is open for public comments for six weeks.

According to the Ministry, the draft strategy will help focus India's current biotechnology efforts to result in annual revenues of $5 billion and the creation of a million jobs by 2010.

In a section titled, "Bioinformatics and IT-enabled Biotechnology," the document notes the importance of "having adequate leaders with expertise in both life sciences and information technology and strong institutional/program tie-up between specialists from both the fields."

Accelerating further bioinformatics development in the country will require "creation of broadband connectivity, high-performance computing facilities, virtual reality centers, availability of high quality trained manpower, interactions with bioinformatics centers in different countries, and industry-academia interactions for joint database and software creation," the document noted.

Some specific actions that the draft document calls for include human resource development "by producing 50-100 quality PhDs, 500 M.Sc and 500 advanced diploma holders in bioinformatics every year;" infrastructure development, such as "supercomputing facilities with 10-teraflop computing capacity … to promote protein-folding and drug-design activities;" testing of public-domain and commercial databases and software; and improved inter-agency coordination.


Reel Two Acquires Rights to Gene-Searching
Software from New Zealand Biotech Firm

Biomedical text-mining firm Reel Two has acquired the rights to high-throughput gene searching technology that it developed for Genesis Research and Development, a therapeutic-development company based in New Zealand.

The software, called Cartesian, was written for in-house use at Genesis. The firms recently reached an agreement under which Reel Two owns the patents and gains the right to commercialize the software, while Genesis will be entitled to a share of the revenues.

Further financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Reel Two has worked closely with Genesis to develop the Cartesian software and is the ideal party to take the product to market," said Stephen Hall, CEO of Genesis, in a statement.

According to Genesis, the Cartesian software has been designed to perform "very fast searching of genetic sequences." The company said that in internal use, the software "reduced analysis and computation time by many orders of magnitude, reducing tasks that had previously taken many months on a large computer cluster down to hours on a single machine."

Further technical details on the software were not available by press time.


Microsoft Postpones Launch of HPC Windows Server to 2006

Microsoft plans to push back the release of a new version of Windows Server for high-performance computing until the first half of 2006, according to news reports last week.

The final release of the product, which Microsoft intends to target to the life science market, was scheduled for late this year. A first beta version was planned to be available in March or April.

The beta version of the product, called Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition, has been delayed until the second half of 2005.

According to several IT newswires, the company said it needs more time to improve the usability of the product.


Incogen Receives Second Half of NIH Funding
For $2M Cancer Diagnostic Software Project

Incogen said last week that after meeting first-year milestones, it has received the $1.2 million remaining on a $2-million National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research grant [BioInform 04-26-04].

According to Incogen, the grant will help support its research into cancer diagnostics, and involves a collaboration with researchers from the College of William and from the Eastern Virginia Medical School.

The NIH award is a Phase II follow-on to a previous grant received in 2003 [BioInform 03-10-03], Incogen said. That first grant provided funding for the development of a pilot project in the analysis of data obtained from Ciphergen's surface-enhanced laser desorption ionization (SELDI) mass spectrometry.

The Phase II work is focused on developing a clinical diagnostic software package based on Incogen's VIBE (Visual Integrated Bioinformatics Environment) software. Under the award, both academic institutions will serve as subcontractors to Incogen. The data will be produced at Eastern Virginia Medical School and analyzed at both Incogen and William & Mary.


UK Research Councils to Fund Second
Round of Systems Biology Centers

The UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have opened a second call for proposals to fund several Centers for Integrative Systems Biology.

The opportunity is open to all UK universities, but universities that received funding in the first round of the initiative, which began last June, are not expected to apply again.

Proposals may request up to £5 million ($9.4 million) from BBSRC, and an additional £1 million "is available to each center to facilitate the building of multidisciplinary teams through the engagement of physical scientists and mathematicians." EPSRC will also contribute some funding for the initiative, but the amount was not disclosed. Applicants are "advised to contact" the EPSRC before submitting their outline to BBSRC.

The councils did not provide details about how many centers they expect to fund under the initiative.

The councils said they will consider requests for start-up funding, for up to five years, towards the costs of advanced research equipment, research and support staff, and support for an initial research program.

Expressions of interest should be submitted by June 13. From these, "a small number" will be selected to prepare full bids that will be due December 1.

Further details are available here.


Two German Research Institutes License Spotfire DecisionSite

Spotfire said last week that Germany's Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried and the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg have licensed the company's software.

The research institutes are both using Spotfire's DecisionSite for Functional Genomics, an application for analyzing gene expression patterns and other biological data.

Both institutions will also use DecisionSite Posters to share analysis results across research teams, Spotfire said.

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