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People in the News: Ewan Birney and Helen Berman

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Ewan Birney, associate director and senior scientist at the European Bioinformatics Institute, has been appointed as interim head of the newly launched Center for Therapeutic Target Validation, a public-private research initiative between GSK, EMBL-EBI, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Birney is one of the founders of the Ensembl genome browser and other databases, and has played a key role in many large-scale genomics projects, including the Human Genome Project in 2000 and the ENCODE project. His research group currently focuses on genomic algorithms and inter-individual differences in human and other species. In his role as associate director of the EBI, he is involved in strategic oversight of its activities.


Helen Berman, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University has been selected to receive the Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences from the Bioinformatics Organization. She'll receive the award and deliver a laureate presentation at the Bio-IT World Conference and Expo in April. She is the 13th recipient of the annual prize given to an individual who has, in his or her practice, promoted free and open access to the materials and methods used in the life sciences.

In addition to her appointment at Rutgers, Berman is the director of the RCSB Protein Data Bank. She studied chemistry at Barnard College before earning a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. Before moving to Rutgers in 1989, she worked at Fox Chase Cancer Center for 20 years where she researched nucleic acid crystallography and drug nucleic acid interactions. Her work includes the study of the structures of collagen and protein-nucleic acid complexes, and she has been involved in developing structural databases and ontologies.


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