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Industry Briefs: Jan 2, 2009

Bruker Execs Take Salary Cuts
A few of Bruker’s top executives will take pay cuts in the range of 10 percent to 25 percent in 2009, the firm reported in a filing last month with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
The 2009 salary for Bruker Chairman, President, and CEO Frank Laukien will decrease 25 percent to $318,750 from his 2008 salary of $425,000.
CFO and Treasurer William Knight will receive a 2009 salary of $288,000, down 10 percent from his 2008 salary of $320,000. Brian Monahan, corporate controller and executive vice president of Bruker Daltonics, will receive a 2009 salary of $180,000, down 10 percent from his 2008 salary of $200,000.
The firm said in the filing that the salary reductions were temporary, but it didn’t provide any other details. At the end of October, Bruker reported flat third-quarter revenue growth. During the company’s third-quarter conference call Laukien noted that beginning this past summer the firm began taking steps to reduce its operating and interest expense and reduce its exposure to currency fluctuations.
“We expect that our cost-cutting initiatives will already have noticeable positive effects in the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009, and that by the middle of 2009 we will see annualized reductions in our overall costs of greater than $12 million,” he said.

Pressure BioSciences Licenses Battelle Technology
Pressure BioSciences last month announced it has licensed technology from the Battelle Memorial Institute relating to a method for improving the analysis of protein samples.
Battelle applied for a patent in July on the technology, which includes a method and system for improving protein sample analysis though an automated, in-line system using pressure and a pre-selected agent to obtain a predigested sample in “significantly” shorter times than is available with current methods, “while maintaining the integrity of the sample throughout the preparatory process,” PBI said in a statement.
It added that the technology will build upon and broaden its own IP position. Combined with PBI’s pressure cycling technology, Battelle’s technology “offers the possibility of a straightforward approach to the automation of sample-preparation techniques,” PBI said. The combination may lead to the potential development of instruments that can be directly integrated with HPLC and mass spectrometry for the complete processing of proteins, from sample preparation to final result, the company added.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Obama Appointments Could Benefit NIH Funding, According to Leerink Swann
Leerink Swann Research said last month that new appointments to president-elect Barack Obama’s science and technology team could signal favorable NIH funding increases [See Movers & Shakers, this issue].
In a research note, analyst Isaac Ro noted the appointment of Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, as co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology: During his years as director of the National Institutes of Health under Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1999, the NIH budget grew from $9.9 billion to $15 billion, Ro wrote.
Consultants that Ro spoke with also noted that Varmus’ success at growing NIH’s budget at a double-digit clip annually “continued past his tenure and through to the ’03 time frame,” Ro said.
In addition to Varmus’ appointment, Eric Lander’s appointment as the co-chair of PCAST should benefit genomics research, Ro said. “We think increased funding in favor of high density genotyping and next-generation sequencing is now more likely [to] continue under the Obama Administration, thanks to these appointments,” he said.

The Scan

Expanded Genetic Testing Uncovers Hereditary Cancer Risk in Significant Subset of Cancer Patients

In Genome Medicine, researchers found pathogenic or likely pathogenic hereditary cancer risk variants in close to 17 percent of the 17,523 patients profiled with expanded germline genetic testing.

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Embryos Appear Largely Normal in Single-Cell 'Omics Analyses

Embryos produced with spindle transfer-based mitochondrial replacement had delayed demethylation, but typical aneuploidy and transcriptome features in a PLOS Biology study.

Cancer Patients Report Quality of Life Benefits for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy was linked in JAMA Network Open to enhanced quality of life compared to other treatment types in cancer patients.

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.