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Paired Ends: Dec 23, 2008

Darren Platt has left 23andMe, where he was senior director of research, to join Amyris Biotechnologies, where he has been named a principal scientist. Until the fall of 2007, Platt was head of bioinformatics at the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute.

President-elect Barack Obama has selected Broad Institute Founding Director Eric Lander and former NIH Director Harold Varmus to serve as co-chairs for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
The two appointees were named along with two other high-ranking members of Obama’s science and technology team.
John Holdren, the director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, has agreed to serve as assistant to the president for science and technology and to be director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Holdren also is a former president and chairman of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Obama also nominated Jane Lubchenco to serve as administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lubchenco is a past-president of the International Council for Science and a former president of AAAS.

Sarah Imbach has been hired as chief operating officer of 23andMe, where she will start in January. She comes to the consumer genomics firm from LinkedIn, where she was vice president of revenue and customer operations. Previously, she was senior vice president of customer service operations and fraud at PayPal.
Larry Tesler recently joined 23andMe as product fellow. Most recently, he was vice president of user experience and design and a research fellow at Yahoo. Previously, he was vice president of shopping experience at, president of Stagecast, and vice president and chief scientist at Apple.

Daphne Bell and Eliott Margulies are two of 12 NIH-supported researchers who have received the 2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Both are researchers at the National Human Genome Institute and received the award for their contributions to human genomics. The 12 scientists were honored at a ceremony at the White House last week.

Helicos BioSciences said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this month that the compensation committee of its board of directors has approved a program “to retain certain key executive officers in connection with the realignment of the company.”
Part of the program is a severance plan, under which the following company officers will obtain benefits “in the event that their employment with the company is terminated without cause prior to a change in control”: Bill Efcavitch, senior vice president and chief technology officer, and Marc Levine, senior vice president of R&D, will each receive six months of base pay in severance payment and six months of healthcare benefits; and Stephen Hall, senior vice president and CFO, will receive four months of base pay in severance, and four months in healthcare benefits.

The Scan

Unique Germline Variants Found Among Black Prostate Cancer Patients

Through an exome sequencing study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers have found unique pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants within a cohort of Black prostate cancer patients.

Analysis of Endogenous Parvoviral Elements Found Within Animal Genomes

Researchers at PLOS Biology have examined the coevolution of endogenous parvoviral elements and animal genomes to gain insight into using the viruses as gene therapy vectors.

Saliva Testing Can Reveal Mosaic CNVs Important in Intellectual Disability

An Australian team has compared the yield of chromosomal microarray testing of both blood and saliva samples for syndromic intellectual disability in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.