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People in the News: Heng Li, Harold Garner, Dennis Dean, and others.


Heng Li, a research scientist at the Broad Institute, has won the 2012 Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences.

Li has developed several tools for next-generation sequence data analysis, including SAMtools, the Burrows-Wheeler Aligner program, Mapping and Assembly with Quality, TreeSoft, and the TreeFam database.

His current research interests include analyzing new sequencing data, population genetics, and phylogenetics.

Li received his doctoral degree in theoretical biophysics from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the Chinese Academy of Science in 2006.

Harold 'Skip' Garner has stepped down as executive director of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, a post he has held since 2009.

Garner will now lead VBI's Medical Informatics Systems division as well as focus on scholarly research, the institute said.

Garner's current research focuses on three areas: applied computational biology; advanced instrumentation development; and genetics, genomics, and proteomics research. He is involved in projects that focus on text mining and DNA microsatellite analysis.

Garner received his PhD in plasma physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1982. He sits on several corporate advisory boards and advises government and private agencies. He also founded several biotechnology companies, including Heliotext, Xanapath, BioAutomation, and Light Biology, which was acquired by Nimblegen (now Roche Nimblegen).
Dennis Dean, who is the executive director of Virginia Tech's Fralin Life Science Institute, has been tapped as to serve as VBI's interim executive director

Biomatters said this week that it has tapped Brett Ammundsen, its former managing director, to take on the role of CEO.

In his new role, Ammundsen will be responsible for leading the company into new genomic markets including clinical and consumer applications, Biomatters said.

Cycle Computing said this week that Victor Ruotti, a computational biologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison's Morgridge Institute for Research, has won its 2011 BigScience Challenge.

Ruotti's entry described the construction of a knowledgebase indexing system for human embryonic stem cells and their derivatives, a process that requires significant amounts of computational power in order to generate a genetic profile of the cell type of interest.

Ruotti will receive $10,000 worth of computation time, which Cycle said is the equivalent of eight hours on a 30,000-core cluster. He will also receive $2,500 of credit from Amazon Web Service.

Ruotti plans to use his compute time to classify stem cell types, including human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. He will do this by analyzing and comparing transcript profiles from each cell type by aligning billions of sequencing reads in combinatorial pair-wise steps.

MolecularHealth said this week that Larry Lesko, the former director of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Clinical Pharmacology, will serve as a scientific advisor for the company.

While he was at the FDA, Lesko chaired the clinical pharmacology section of the medical policy coordinating committee and was the co-chair of the biopharmaceutics coordinating committee of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

He also served as the FDA’s associate director of research, where he was responsible for managing the product quality research program in the office of generic drugs.

Prior to working at the FDA, Lesko was the vice president of PharmaKinetics Laboratories and held an appointment in the neuroscience laboratory at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Aging. He was also a faculty member at the medical center at the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.

Lesko is currently a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy and leads the university’s Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology initiative.

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