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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

Team Tracks Down Potential Blood Plasma Markers Linked to Heart Failure in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Researchers in BMC Genomics found 10 differentially expressed proteins or metabolites that marked atrial fibrillation with heart failure cases.

Study Points to Synonymous Mutation Effects on E. Coli Enzyme Activity

Researchers in Nature Chemistry saw signs of enzyme activity shifts in the presence of synonymous mutations in a multiscale modeling analysis of three Escherichia coli genes.

Team Outlines Paternal Sample-Free Single-Gene Approach for Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening

With data for nearly 9,200 pregnant individuals, researchers in Genetics in Medicine demonstrate the feasibility of their carrier screening and reflex single-gene non-invasive prenatal screening approach.

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.