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CSHL, JGI, HHMI, GenoLogics, Illumina, Medical Solutions, Geneservice, CLC Bio, SD Genomics, Beijing Genomics Institute, Microcheck, Franek Technologies

CSHL Lands $25M Gift to Create Psychiatric GenomicsCenter
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will establish a center to study the genetic causes of common psychiatric disorders using a $25 million endowment from Theodore and Vada Stanley, CSHL said this week.
CSHL will use the money from the Stanley Medical Research Institute — one of the largest gifts in its history — to create the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Genomics on its campus on Long Island, NY.
CSHL said its primary goal is to “unambiguously diagnose patients with psychiatric disorders based on their DNA sequence in 10 years time.”
The center plans to use genome sequencing along with a database it created to analyze symptoms of psychiatric disorder, and to link genes to the disorders.
CSHL president Bruce Stillman said the endowment will both strengthen the lab’s neuroscience program “and help us find the genes related to these disorders so that proper diagnosis and effective treatments can be pursued."
While acknowledging that "the causes of these disorders are complex,” CSHL noted in a statement that “the greatest contributing factor is the alteration in the DNA sequence of the genes.”
Because rare gene variants seem to be involved in complex psychiatric disorders, “researchers must study as many patients as possible at the level of the individual base pairs of DNA.”

JGI Extends Walnut Creek Lease by Five Years, Expands Footprint by 18K Square Feet
The Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute said this week that it has extended by five years the lease for its University of California lab in Walnut Creek, Calif.
The new lease also gives JGI an extra 18,000 square feet in a vacant building that will be renovated and opened in the first quarter of 2008. The additional space will bring JGI’s total footprint to 80,000 square feet.
JGI said the additional space will allow the institute to consolidate its administrative and informatics staffs and will include an education and outreach lab.
The new lease will run through 2013 and includes an option to run through 2018. JGI said it now has a staff of 240 at the University of California.
JGI Director Eddy Rubin said the institute has “grown considerably over the last 10 years as we have transitioned from determining the DNA code for the human genome to a national user facility for the DNA sequencing of many different important organisms.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

HHMI Grants $3M to Support Genomics-Based Education for Pre-College Students
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded 31 new grants for pre-college science education programs to research facilities around the country, including some focused on genomics and molecular biology-related sciences.
The grants, issued under the Pre-college Science Education Initiative for Biomedical Research Institutions, total $22.5 million and average between $530,000 and $750,000.
Genomics-based education received around $3 million:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory received $750,000 over five years for science programs that will “add six genetics and biotechnology experiments to the curriculum of 820 New York public school teachers,” CSHL said.
The Institute for Systems Biology received a five-year, $721,000 grant for a collaboration with a school system in Renton, Wash., to train kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers in “the systems approach to science.”
Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center also received grants of $750,000 each.
A complete listing of the awards can be found here. 

GenoLogics Joins Illumina Software Program
GenoLogics said last week that it has joined IlluminaConnect, a partnership program that Illumina launched last month for third-party bioinformatics providers.
GenoLogics said that it will integrate its Geneus software with Illumina’s BeadArray technology and software for both gene expression and genotyping applications.
A company spokesperson told In Sequence via e-mail that the company plans to support Illumina’s Genome Analyzer sequencing instrument as well.
Other participants in the IlluminaConnect program include Biocomputing Platforms, GeneSifter, Golden Helix, Ingenuity Systems, Partek Genomics, Rosetta BioSoftware, Sapio Sciences, SAS, and Stratagene.

Medical Solutions Offers to Buy Geneservice for $7.6M
Medical Solutions, a provider of histopathology and cytology services and products, said earlier this month that it plans to buy UK genomics services firm Geneservice for ₤3.9 million ($7.6 million).  
Geneservice, a 2005 spinout of the UK’s Medical Research Council, provides genomics services, such as DNA sequencing, genotyping, gene expression profiling, and qPCR, to academic and corporate clients.
Medical Solutions said it is looking to expand its diagnostic and prognostic tests, and said it believes qPCR will be “the favored technology” for many diagnostics in five to 10 years.
Medical Solutions said it stands to benefit through “direct access to the technologies and expertise which Geneservice provides,” and Geneservice will “gain clinical expertise and credibility in the healthcare and pharmaceutical communities.”
The company said it is still working out the details on moving Geneservice from Cambridge to Nottingham, UK. Geneservice has a staff of 35 at its Cambridge facility.
Medical Solutions said Geneservice’s revenue for the 11-month period ended Feb. 28 was ₤2.4 million, an increase of 35 percent year-over-year.
In a statement posted on the Geneservice website, CEO Tom Weaver said that the acquisition is “an extremely exciting and important new development” for the company “because it not only helps us strengthen our current business working with academic and clinical researchers, but will enable rapid expansion into healthcare and pharma/biotech markets where we intend to apply our technology and know-how towards emerging pharmacogenomic and diagnostic applications.”

CLC Bio, SD Genomics, Beijing Genomics Institute Partner on Bioinformatics Development
CLC Bio said this week that it has formed a partnership with the Beijing Genomics Institute and SD Genomics, a genomics service provider based in Aarhus, Denmark, to collaborate on the development of bioinformatics and genomics tools and plug-ins for use with CLC Bio’s bioinformatics platform.
CLC Bio said the companies will develop tools to manage and interpret data being generated by genomics research in biotech and pharmaceutical companies and in academic research.
In particular, CLC Bio cited “the vast volume of data” from new sequencing technologies from 454 Life Sciences, Illumina, Applied Biosystems, and Helicos as driving an “urgent need for new and innovative IT solutions for handling and interpreting such data in an efficient and value adding way.”
The collaborators will develop plug-ins for use with CLC Bio’s Workbench platform, and will also integrate several tools from the Beijing Genomics Institute with CLC Bio’s software.

Report Pegs European PCR Reagents Market at $350M for 2006
According to market research firm Frost & Sullivan, the market for PCR reagents in Europe was worth $349.9 million in 2006 and is expected to reach $642.6 million in 2013.
In a recent report, “European PCR Reagents Market,” Frost & Sullivan notes that the PCR reagent market is growing due to increased use in forensic medicine, paternity testing, and DNA sequencing.
“However, the stability of reagents presents a major challenge to end users since PCR reagents are highly temperature-sensitive and even mild moderations can affect their nature,” Frost & Sullivan said in a statement.
The research firm added that there are many “new participants” in the PCR reagents market that “have a niche clientele and threaten to capture market share from incumbents.”

Microcheck Installs Franek System to Ensure Power for ABI Sequencer
Franek Technologies said this week that microbial identification lab Microcheck has installed a Franek power protection system with battery back-up to protect its Applied Biosystems Prism 3130xl Genetic Analyzer.
Microcheck is an FDA-regulated and A2LA-certified laboratory that specializes in bacterial, fungal, yeast, and actinomycete identification; environmental monitoring; and microbiology testing.
Microcheck estimated that a power outage could result in a loss of $5,000 in damage to the lasers in the Genetic Analyzer alone.

Financial terms of the agreement were not provided. 

The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.