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Short Reads: Mar 27, 2009

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The advocacy group Autism Speaks gave a $5 million grant to support two studies on genetics and the environment and on neuroimaging. One is the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation, a project led by researchers at Drexel University; the other is the Infant Brain Imaging Study, which will be headed up by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Andrew von Eschenbach, who recently stepped down as commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, joined the healthcare consulting firm Greenleaf Health as a senior advisor. Eschenbach, an oncologist, was previously director of the National Cancer Institute.

The US Department of Agriculture doled out $11 million in funding to universities and research centers in 15 states for livestock genomics research projects and technology development. USDA said the money will support research, education, and outreach in animal genomics that will protect livestock and make the food supply safer.

Mari Baker has left her post as CEO and president of Navigenics, where she served since the company started in 2007, to head up an entertainment and video game company called Playfirst. Baker will continue to serve as a Navigenics board member.

A panel of experts at the US Human Proteome Organization annual meeting told attendees that until instruments used for proteomics research become cheaper and more user-friendly, proteomics may always play second fiddle to genomic technologies in the clinical setting. Ruedi Aebersold said that a fundamental problem is that proteomics continues to "operate in a perpetual-discovery mode" when a more targeted approach would provide greater benefits.

The Medical College of Georgia won a five-year, $10 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to continue a long-term study of newborns in Georgia and Florida aimed at determining how genetics and the environment can cause Type 1 diabetes. The funding will go toward enrolling 200 more newborns in the program.

StemCells signed an agreement to acquire Stem Cell Sciences in a deal worth around $4.8 million. The transaction will provide StemCells, which focuses on developing tissue-derived cellular products for therapeutic uses, with cell-based drug discovery technologies.

The Canadian government gave C$3 million to Genome Atlantic to study a developmental problem in Atlantic cod.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, and the China Pharmaceutical University have demonstrated high levels of bacterial diversity within and between individuals' saliva microbiomes. The paper reporting these findings was published in Genome Research.

Cathy Wu was named the Edward G. Jefferson Chair of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Delaware. In the job, she will serve in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

BG Medicine hired Doug White to be executive VP and general manager. White was previously senior VP of sales and marketing at Qiagen.

Flourotechnics has appointed James Walker to take over the CEO job from Duncan Veal, who will take over the post of chief technology officer.

PerkinElmer opened a second Center of Excellence in Singapore with a focus on life science research. The center, located at the A*Star Biopolis research complex, will have the company's instruments, software, and reagents for use by biotech, pharmaceutical, and academic customers.

Mort Minaee has taken the post of head of regulatory affairs at 454 Life Sciences, part of Roche. Minaee was formerly director of regulatory and clinical affairs at Abbott Molecular Diagnostics, and previously worked with Siemens Medical Solutions.

Genetic testing company DNAPrint Genomics shut down its operations earlier this year. The cash-strapped firm had inked a deal a year ago to be acquired by Nanobac Pharmaceuticals, but the deal fell apart when Nanobac was unable to raise additional funds.

IO Informatics has added four new members to its Working Group on Informatics for Personalized Medicine: Uwe Christians, Dan Crowther, Herbert Fritsche, and Kathy Gibson.

Eric Issacs will be the next director of the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. Issacs is a physicist at the University of Chicago and a senior administrator at Argonne. He will replace Robert Rosner.

Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center will begin genetic testing of lung cancer patients, and eventually all new cancer patients. Molecular profiling will be done on 110 gene mutations linked to the growth of various malignant tumors.

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.