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NIH, NSF, The National Center for Genome Resources, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Institute for Genomic Research, Definiens, Altana Pharma, GATC Biotech, Strand Life Sciences, Elan Pharmaceuticals


NIH Ponies Up $56M to Fund Three New Centers for Biomedical Computing

The National Institutes of Health said last week that it is funding three new National Centers for Biomedical Computing, adding to four such centers that NIH funded last year [BioInform 10-11-04].

The new centers, supported by grants projected to total more than $56 million over five years, include the National Center for Integrative Biomedical Informatics, headed by Brian Athey at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; the National Center for Multi-Scale Analysis of Genetic and Cellular Networks (MAGNet), led by Andrea Califano at Columbia University, and the National Center for Biomedical Ontology, headed by Mark Musen at Stanford University.

An NIH database lists the 2005 award amount for the center at the University of Michigan as $3,756,966 and the Columbia award amount as $3,758,967 for 2005. The Stanford award was not yet listed in the NIH database at press time, but the University issued a separate press release stating that its total grant was $18.8 million.

Stanford said that the ontology center includes the informatics group at the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project — which supports the Gene Ontology Consortium and the Open Biomedical Ontologies library — as well as the Mayo Clinic, the University of Victoria in British Columbia, and State University of New York-Buffalo.

NSF Awards $1.7M to NCGR, CSHL, TIGR to Build Semantic Web for Plant Research

The National Center for Genome Resources said last week that it has received a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a Virtual Plant Information Network in collaboration with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Institute for Genomic Research.

According to a statement from NCGR, "the VPIN will be the first large-scale implementation of a semantic information network for biological research."

The VPIN will enable plant information websites to associate their data and services with publicly accessible ontologies, NCGR said. The project will use semantic technologies developed under the BioMoby and Semantic Moby projects, as well as the Legume Information Network, which NCGR announced earlier this month [BioInform 9-12-05].

According to an abstract for the grant in an NSF database, the network will combine data and analysis tools from TAIR (, DargonDB (, LIS (, Gramene (, TIGR's Genome Annotation ( and Medicago Gene Indices ( and the CGIAR's Generation Challenge Program via IRIS ( and IWIS (

The abstract states that the project will merge Semantic Moby and Moby services "into a single unified Semantic Web Services platform for biology."

Altana to use Definiens Cellenger Software

Definiens said last week that Altana Pharma will use Definiens Cellenger, an enterprise image analysis software package, as its "image analysis system of choice."

The company did not disclose financial terms of the agreement, not did it disclose what research applications the software would support.

"The advantage of Definiens Cellenger is the recognition and separation of objects in images of heterogeneous structure in a self learning process." said Klaus Tuch, head of pathology at Altana, in a statement.

GATC Opens Subsidiary in France, Hires Two in UK

GATC Biotech, a provider of bioinformatics software and molecular biology services based in Constance, Germany, said last week that it has established a subsidiary in Marseille, France, and that it has hired two new employees for a subsidiary in Cambridge, UK, which was founded in 2004.

"Our long-term corporate and growth targets require our presence in the French market. Therefore the foundation of the subsidiary in Marseille was the next logical step after we established the English subsidiary back in 2004," said Peter Pohl, CEO of GATC Biotech.

GATC Biotech distributes Lasergene by DNAStar, ERGO by Integrated Genomics, and Mutation Surveyor, Mutation Explorer, and GeneMarker by SoftGenetics.

The 15-year-old company has a total of 40 employees.

Strand Life Sciences to Perform In Silico Research for Elan Pharmaceuticals

Strand Life Sciences will perform in silico drug discovery research for Elan Pharmaceuticals, the Bangalore-based company said last week.

As part of the collaboration, Strand will use its predictive modeling for efficacy and ADMET, custom library design, QSAR and pharmacophore modeling, structure-based drug design, and data and visual mining technologies, as well as provide consulting.

Earlier this month, Strand Genomics changed its name to Strand Life Sciences [BioInform 09-12-05].

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