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John Wareham, Peter Leddy, Shaf Yousaf, David Julien, Gilles Cottier, Frank Wicks, Douglas Liu, GE, Roche, Thermo, Beckman, Waters, European Commission, Assay Designs, Stressgen Bioreagents


John Wareham, who retired from his position as chairman and CEO of Beckman Coulter in February, entered into a retirement and consulting agreement with the company on June 30, according to an 8-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Wareham will serve as a consultant for three years.

The agreement stipulates that he provide up to 45 days of consulting services in the first year of the contract, up to 25 days in the second year, and up to 20 days in the third year. Wareham will receive an annual retainer of $330,000 for the first year, $210,000 for the second year, and $170,000 for the third year of the agreement's term.

Wareham was succeeded as CEO earlier this year by Scott Garrett.

Peter Leddy, who joined Invitrogen as senior vice president of human resources last week, will receive a base salary of $320,000 and is entitled to receive an annual bonus pursuant to the firm's incentive compensation plan, according to an 8-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Leddy also is entitled to receive a one-time signing bonus of $250,000, refundable to the company on a pro rata basis if he voluntarily terminates his employment or is terminated for cause during the first years of employment. If he is still employed by the firm at the time of his one-year anniversary of employment, he also is entitled to receive a one-time bonus of $100,000.

In addition, Leddy received options to purchase 50,000 shares of the firm's common stock, as well as 20,000 restricted stock units.

Sigma-Aldrich announced promotions this week in connection with its reorganization (see article in this week's issue). Shaf Yousaf, vice president of corporate R&D and biotech marketing, will become president of the firm's Biotech unit. David Julien, most recently president of Sigma's biotechnology business, was named president of the Specialties unit. Gilles Cottier, vice president of sales at Sigma, was appointed president of the Essentials unit. The firm's SAFC will continue to be led by Frank Wicks, who has served as the unit's president since January 2003.

Each unit president will report to Sigma President and COO Jai Nagarkatti.

Douglas Liu has joined Qiagen as vice president of global operations. He will oversee all of Qiagen's operations, including manufacturing, quality, logistics and infrastructure, and will serve on the firm's executive committee. Liu will be based at Qiagen's headquarters in Hilden, Germany, and will report to CEO Peer Schatz.

Liu joined Qiagen from Bayer Healthcare, where he served as head of operations for nucleic acid diagnostics in the US and strategic planning and consulting at Bayer's headquarters in Germany. Previous to working at Bayer, he held positions at Abbott Diagnostics and Chiron Diagnostics.

BioCommerce Briefs

GE, Roche Partner on Alzheimer's Drug Response Study

GE Healthcare and Roche will collaborate on a personalized approach to treating Alzheimer's disease, the companies said this week.

The companies will partner on controlled clinical trials in which patients taking a Roche anti-amyloid drug candidate for Alzheimer's disease will be monitored for drug response using GE's positron emission tomography diagnostic imaging agent.

This PET-based technology is able to monitor levels of beta-amyloid, a form of brain plaque believed to cause memory loss in Alzheimer's disease patients. The companies said that this plaque could previously only be confirmed during autopsy.

Roche and GE Healthcare said they will independently analyze patient data and share information to validate the efficacy of the therapeutic product and the PET-based diagnostic tool.

This data will enable Roche and GE to submit "necessary and comprehensive data to regulatory authorities for approvals," the companies said.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Thermo Obtains $209M Revolving Credit Facility;
Partners with Diagnostic Products Corp.

Thermo Electron has obtained a revolving €175 million ($209 million) credit facility, the company said in an SEC filing last week.

The five-year facility, sealed on June 30, was made with ABN AMRO Bank, Barclays Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Trust Company, JPMorgan ChaseBank, Banca Intesa, Bank Austria Creditanstalt, BNP Paribas, and Key Bank, Thermo said in the filing.

Thermo also entered into a co-development pact with Diagnostic Products Corp. for a new, high-throughput clinical chemistry platform. The new instrument will integrate with DPC's future immunochemistry platforms and will be targeted to the medium and large-volume laboratories in the hospital and private laboratory segments.

DPC will exclusively distribute the platform worldwide except in certain European countries, where Thermo will continue to sell its clinical chemistry and automation products.

Also this week, Thermo's shares were upgraded by J.P. Morgan to overweight from neutral. The bank cited "improving macro trends in the life science and industrial markets and potentially positive second-quarter results" as reasons for the upgrade. The company "also appears poised for a strong second-half 2005 and 2006, with a solid pipeline of new products and recent acquisitions for the process control and equipment maker," J.P. Morgan analysts said.

Beckman upgrades DNAPrint's Genotyping Instrument

Beckman Coulter has upgraded DNAPrint's SNPstream genotyping instrument from 12-plex to 48-plex, DNAPrint said this week.

The upgrade allows for an approximate four-fold increase in genotyping throughput, DNAPrint said. The upgrade in capability does not require labor increases; therefore, DNAPrint expects to see a significant reduction in price per genotype, it said.

Waters to Accrue Q3 Tax Liability

Waters disclosed in an 8-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week that it would accrue a tax liability of approximately $22 million to $28 million in its third quarter related to repatriation of earnings.

The firm noted that legislation was passed in late 2004 that "provided an elective 85 percent dividends received deduction, which permits US corporations to repatriate earnings of foreign subsidiaries at an effective federal tax rate of 5.25 percent versus 35 percent before consideration of foreign tax credits."

Waters' board of directors adopted resolutions earlier this week to repatriate roughly $500 million as a qualified distribution in accordance with the new law.

The company's third quarter ends on Sept. 30.

European Commission Issues €383M Call for Proposals

The European Commission has launched a call for proposals under its Sixth Framework funding program that address a variety of topics in the life sciences, genomics and biotechnology fields.

Topics for proposals include gene expression and proteomics, structural genomics, comparative genomics and population genetics, bioinformatics, pharmacogenomics, diagnostics, and in vitro tests to replace animal experimentation. Conditions to be addressed include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, brain and nervous system diseases, aging, and resistance to antibiotics and other drugs.

The total budget for this call for proposals is €382.6 million ($456.6 million).

The deadline for submitting proposals is Sept. 11.

Assay Designs Acquires Stressgen Bioreagents

Assay Designs said this week that it has acquired Stressgen Bioreagents for an undisclosed amount.

Assay Designs will take on Stressgen's employees, bringing the company's total number of workers to 85, Russell Hart, Assay Designs' co-founder and president, said in a statement.

Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Stressgen develops and markets antibodies, proteins, and related kits to life sciences researchers. Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Assay Designs develops and manufactures immunoassay kits, luminescent reagents, antibodies, and proteins for the life sciences market.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.