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NHGRI Budget, Immunetrics, Strand Genomics, Tripos, Vivisimo, NCBI PowerScripting Course

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NHGRI Slated for Slim Budget Increase in FY ‘05; Impact on Bioinformatics Unclear

President Bush’s budget request for the 2005 fiscal year includes $492.7 million for the National Human Genome Research Institute — an increase of $13.8 million and 2.9 percent over NHGRI’s final appropriation for FY 2004.

The proposed budget — if approved in its entirety by the House and Senate appropriations committees in the fall — would mark the lowest year-over-year increase for NHGRI in a decade.

The potential impact of the funding plateau on bioinformatics remains unclear, however, because NHGRI did not break down the proposed budget by scientific goal. NHGRI allocated $34.9 million — or 10.4 percent of its total budget — to bioinformatics FY ‘02, the last year for which data is available. This marked a steady increase from 7.7 percent of NHGRI’s budget in FY ‘01 and 6.8 percent of its total budget in FY ‘00.

If the bioinformatics portion of NHGRI’s budget remains at the 10 percent level, there may be up to $49 million available for bioinformatics research and database development in FY ‘05.

Funding trends in other NIH institutes point toward a positive trend. NIGMS, for example, has allocated $24 million for bioinformatics and computational biology under its National Centers for Biomedical Computing initiative — twice the level of FY ‘04 funding.

The FY 2005 request for NHGRI earmarks $359.4 million for 326 research grants — up from $344.2 million for 295 grants in FY 2004. Of its total research grant budget for FY 2005, NHGRI expects to award $134.5 million for 249 research project grants and $211.9 million for 31 research center grants.

NHGRI has cut its R&D contract budget by nearly 30 percent in FY 2005, however. In FY 2004, 10 R&D contracts were awarded, totaling $18.1 million. NHGRI said it plans to increase the number of R&D contracts awarded in FY 2005 to 20, but will curtail its available funds to $12.9 million.


Immunetrics Secures $100,000 in Penn Greenhouse Grants

The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse said last week that it has awarded Immunetrics, a University of Pittsburgh spin-off developing computer modeling software to simulate inflammatory response in preclinical and clinical trials, $100,000 in pre-seed funding.

PLSG said it awarded the funding through its affiliate, the Pittsburgh Biomedical Development Corporation.


Strand Expands Canadian Distribution Deal

Strand Genomics last week said it has expanded an existing distribution relationship with United Bioinformatica (UBI) of Calgary, for its Avadis gene expression analysis software.

Late last year, the company entered into a distribution agreement with UBI for its Acuris gene and protein annotation software [BioInform 11-17-03].

The company also has distribution agreements with Interfocus for the UK, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland; BioLabnet and Cutting Edge Scientific in the US; and Research Biolabs for Singapore and Malaysia. A company spokesperson said that Strand is “close to signing up leading distributors in Japan, Hong Kong and China.”


Bayer HealthCare Signs on for Global Use of Tripos Tools

Tripos said last week that Bayer HealthCare will deploy its Sybyl and Unity computational chemistry software packages across its drug discovery and development organization.

Bayer has acquired licenses for its R&D sites in Germany and the US.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In a statement, Alexander Hillisch, head of computational chemistry at Bayer HealthCare, called the platform’s compatibility with Linux “a critical factor in our choice.”


Vivisimo: Six Firms License ClusterMed

Vivisimo said last week that six companies have licensed its ClusterMed search engine since its launch in April [BioInform 04-05-04]

Vivisimo said that BioSynexus, Cetek, Exact Sciences, Hydra Biosciences, Neurotech, and an undisclosed firm have licensed the software, which clusters PubMed search results into hierarchical folders.


NCBI to Host ‘PowerScripting’ Course

The National Center for Biotechnology Information will host a free course called “NCBI PowerScripting” July 14-16 on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md.

The course includes lectures and computer workshops on using NCBI’s E-utilities within scripts to automate search and retrieval operations across the entire suite of 23 Entrez databases. A working knowledge of NCBI resources and Perl is required.

Further information is available at http://www.ncbi.nih.gov/Class/PowerTools/eutils/course.html.

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