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People in the News: Janet Thornton, Rajeev Pany, and Avrum Spira

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Janet Thornton, the director of the European Bioinformatics Institute, has been made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her contribution to bioinformatics.

Thornton's lab at the EBI develops and uses computational methods to study enzyme structure and function and to derive principles of protein structure. It is also involved in functional annotation of genomes as well as using structural data to annotate proteins. Finally, the group is involved in as functional genomics analysis in the context of aging.

Among other accomplishments, Thornton helped develop the CATH Protein Structure Classification system, which is a semi-automatic, hierarchical classification of protein domains. Of late, she has been involved in coordinating the preparatory phase of European Life Science Infrastructure for Biological Information, or ELIXIR.

Thornton has been EBI's director since 2001. She received her bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Nottingham, a master's degree in biophysics from King's College London, and a PhD in Biophysics from the National Institute for Medical Research in London.


Genelex has hired Rajeev Pany to serve as its healthcare software development manager.

In his new role, Pany’s primary focus will be technology and software engineering for Genelex as well as bringing pharmacogenetic tools to market.

Pany comes to Genelex with 15 years of experience developing large-scale enterprise software applications in healthcare IT.


Allegro Diagnostics has tapped Avrum Spira to serve on its clinical and scientific advisory board.

Spira is an associate professor in the departments of medicine, pathology, and bioinformatics as well as chief of the computational biomedicine division at Boston University School of Medicine.

He is also an attending physician in BUMC's medical intensive care unit; and the director of bioinformatics in the pulmonary center and director of translational bioinformatics in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Boston University.

His research focuses on applying high-throughput genomic and bioinformatics tools to the study of lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease.

Spira has a master's degree in bioinformatics from Boston University and a medical degree from McGill University.


The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.