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John Rossi, Craig Venter

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Benitec said last week that it has named John Rossi as chairman of its scientific advisory board.

Rossi is currently director of the Department of Molecular Biology and dean of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences of the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope Cancer Center. He received his PhD and conducted his post-doctoral studies at Brown University Medical School.

“Dr. Rossi has great depth of knowledge in those areas of greatest interest to Benitec,” John McKinley, Benitec’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

According to the Australian company, Rossi’s work has included the design of catalytic RNAs/ribozymes to inhibit HIV infection, and clinical testing of ribozyme genes transduced into hematopoietic stem cells for autologous transplant in HIV-infected patients. His current work involves enhancing the intracellular efficacy of ribozymes and RNA decoys via RNA trafficking and target localization approaches.

Craig Venter announced at the Genome Sequencing Analysis Conference a $500,000 Genomic Technology Prize to be awarded by the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation to a person or organization that develops technology "to significantly advance" automated DNA sequencing toward making the $1,000 genome a reality.

The prize is to be awarded one time only. The foundation will announce the complete rules and procedures for prize applications in late December 2003.

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