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As HGP Wraps up, NHGRI Looks Forward…

Last week’s announcement of the completion of the Human Genome Project marked the end of an era for the National Human Genome Research Institute, which has spearheaded the effort since it was initiated in 1990. But, as a paper published in the April 24 issue of Nature confirms, the institute is far from obsolete now that the full sequence is in hand.

The paper, authored by Francis Collins and colleagues, illustrates NHGRI’s goals over the near and long term, and lays out particular areas of development for bioinformatics and computational biology that will be “critical to the future of genomics research.” These include ongoing research in solving biological problems, reusable software modules “to facilitate interoperability,” methods to elucidate the effects of environmental factors on human health, new ontologies, improved database technologies, and better knowledge management systems.

In addition, the paper calls for tools and technologies “analogous to the publicly accessible genomic maps and sequence databases” that can track, store, and analyze research related to the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomic research.

The paper offers a very broad view of areas NHGRI intends to work on in the coming years, and the institute said it would issue a revised program announcement as well as other grant solicitations later this year.

 

…and IT Firms Bask in the Genomics Buzz

In a big week for genomics news — which included not only the completion of the Human Genome Project, but also a flurry of projects to sequence the coronavirus linked to SARS — information technology companies were quick to jump on the bandwagon with reminders that IT is a crucial part of genomics research.

Platform Computing issued a press release trumpeting the Sanger Institute’s use of its LSF cluster management software, which “has been crucial to Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s continued success in the Human Genome Project, most recently to complete the decoding of chromosome 20.”

IBM, meanwhile, issued a reminder that scientists at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver used a Linux cluster of IBM eServer xSeries systems to help them sequence the coronavirus responsible for causing severe acute respiratory syndrome.

 

TimeLogic Sells DeCypher to JPO

The Japan Patent Office has signed a contract to implement TimeLogic’s DeCypher bioinformatics system for scanning public genetic databases and searching for prior art sequence information in patent applications, TimeLogic and its Japanese distributor InfoCom said last week.

The system is an upgrade of a previous version of DeCypher that the patent office installed in 1999. This new version, DeCypher Model XD-8G, offers a 30-fold improvement in performance over the previous system, according to the company.

 

BioDiscovery Partners with Eppendorf, UBI; Sells System to Health Canada

In a spate of announcements last week, microarray analysis software provider BioDiscovery said it had signed a development agreement with Eppendorf, a distribution deal with United Bioinformatica in Canada, and a license agreement for its GeneDirector software with Health Canada.

In the Eppendorf partnership, BioDiscovery will modify its ImaGene image analysis software and integrate Eppendorf’s statistical tools into a new software package for Eppendorf microarray products.

The distribution agreement with United Bioinformatica (UBI) gives UBI distribution rights to BioDiscovery’s CloneTracker, ImaGene, and GeneSight products in the Canadian market.

Meanwhile, Health Canada, Canada’s federal healthcare system, agreed to purchase BioDiscovery’s GeneDirector enterprise data management system for microarray data. The purchase includes hardware and software to track, analyze, and manage microarray data.

Financial terms were not disclosed for any of the agreements.

 

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