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John McKinley, Sara Cunningham, Ray Whitten, Joseph Horn, Tony Hunter, Tony Pawson, and Alexander Levitzki

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Benitec announced this week that John McKinley has resigned as chairman and CEO of the company. He will remain as a non-executive director, Benitec said.

According to the company, COO Sara Cunningham has become acting CEO. She joined Benitec in 2004 when it acquired Avocel, an RNAi company she co-founded. Prior to starting up Avocel, Cunningham was senior manager of business development at B-Bridge International. Before this, she served as strategic and international marketing manager at BD Biosciences Clontech.

Benitec also said this week that board member Ray Whitten has become chairman of the company’s board. Whitten was formerly the chairman of Queensland Opals, a publicly traded Australian mining company that acquired Benitec in 2002. Following the acquisition, the company began operating as Benitec.


AVI BioPharma said this week that it has appointed Joseph Horn vice president of cardiology.

Horn joins AVI from Cook, where he served as vice president of international sales and clinical services. Prior to working for Cook, Horn was president and CEO of Global Therapeutics, a medical device firm that was later acquired by Cook.


Tony Hunter, Tony Pawson, and Alexander Levitzki have been jointly awarded the 2005 Wolf Prize in Medicine for their research in cancer development and treatment, the Wolf Foundation said last week. They will equally share the $100,000 prize, which will be presented to them in Jerusalem on May 22.

Hunter, a professor of biology at the Salk Institute, is recognized for discovering tyrosine protein kinases. He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK.

Pawson, a senior scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and a professor at the University of Toronto, is cited for discovering protein domains essential for mediating protein-protein interactions in cell signaling. He holds a PhD in molecular biology from London University and a BA in biochemistry from Cambridge University.

Levitzki is recognized for developing tyrosine kinase inhibitors to treat cancer, paving the way for drugs such as Gleevec. He is a professor of biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Levitzki holds a PhD in biochemistry and biophysics from Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The Scan

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Sandwich Sampling

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Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.