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Xavier Becerra Confirmed

Xavier Becerra has been confirmed as the new secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Washington Post reports.

President Joe Biden nominated Becerra, the former attorney general of California who also represented Los Angeles in the House of Representatives, to the post in December.

The Post notes that with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Becerra will have his hands full leading the department, which encompasses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, among other agencies. According to CNBC, Becerra said at a Senate confirmation hearing last month that he recognized "the enormous challenges before us."

The confirmation vote was close at 50 to 49, largely along party lines with one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, voting to confirm, the Post adds. Republicans opposing Becerra said he lacked experience and criticized his support of a "Medicare for All" program and abortion rights, according to NBC News.

The Scan

Suicidal Ideation-Linked Loci Identified Using Million Veteran Program Data

Researchers in PLOS Genetics identify risk variants within and across ancestry groups with a genome-wide association study involving veterans with or without a history of suicidal ideation.

Algorithm Teases Out Genetic Ancestry in Individuals at Biobank Scale

Researchers develop an algorithm known as Rye to tease apart ancestry fractions in admixed individuals at a biobank-scale, applying it to 488,221 UK Biobank participants in Nucleic Acids Research.

Multi-Ancestry Analysis Highlights Comparable Common Variants at Complex Trait-Linked Loci

Researchers in Nature Genetics examine common variants implicated in more than three dozen conditions, estimating genetic effect similarities across ancestry tracts in admixed individuals.

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.