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


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

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.