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People in the News: Dec 10, 2010 (rev. 1)

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Jeremy Berg plans to resign as director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a position he has held since November 2003, to take up the role of associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning in the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

In addition, Berg will be a faculty member in the department of computational and systems biology at the university’s school of medicine. He anticipates leaving NIGMS at the end of June 2011, at which point an acting director will be named if the search for a new director is still under way.

As NIGMS director, Berg oversees a $2 billion budget that funds research in cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology.

Prior to his appointment at NIGMS, Berg directed the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, where he also served as professor and director of the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry.

Berg received his BS and MS degrees in chemistry from Stanford University in 1980 and a PhD in chemistry from Harvard University in 1985.


This week, Selventa announced that David de Graaf will take over as president and chief executive officer of the recently renamed company, formerly known as Genstruct (BI 12/03/2010).

Prior to assuming his new position De Graaf was chief scientific officer at Selventa.

De Graaf served as vice president of biotherapeutics and integrative biology at Boehringer-Ingelheim, and also held roles at Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research before joining Selventa.

He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, in pharmacogenomics of human olfactory systems. He also has a PhD in mammalian genetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a MS degree in evolutionary genetics from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

In his new role, De Graaf will lead the Selventa team in its partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as with academic institutions.


The Association for Computing Machinery Fellows has named three researchers in the bioinformatics field among 41 computer scientists it has designated 2010 Association for Computing Machinery Fellows.

Pavel Pevzner, a professor of computer science at the University of California, San Diego, is being recognized by the ACM "for contributions to algorithms for genome rearrangements, DNA sequencing, and proteomics."

His work focuses broadly on algorithms for DNA sequencing, proteomics, and genome rearrangements.

Pevzner is the director of the NIH Center for Computational Mass Spectrometry; and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor. In addition, he has authored graduate and undergraduate textbooks on bioinformatics algorithms and is interested in new approaches to interdisciplinary computer science education.

Also included in the list of 2010 fellows are Lydia Kavraki, professor of computer science and bioengineering at Rice University and a professor in the graduate program in structural and computational biology and molecular biophysics at Baylor College of Medicine; and Fernando Pereira, research director at Google.

Kavraki was recognized for her contributions to robotic motion planning and its application to computational biology.

Her research includes developing computational tools to model protein, structure, and function; to understand biomolecular interactions; and to analyze the molecular machinery of the cell.

Pereira was recognized for contributions to machine-learning models of natural language and biological sequences.

He is currently a research director at Google and has served as chair of the computer and information science department at University of Pennsylvania.

His main research interests are in machine-learnable models of language and biological sequences and he has over 100 research publications in several areas including bioinformatics.

The ACM Fellows program, initiated in 1993, celebrates the contributions of the leading members in the computing field.


The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.