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NCRR, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, University of Maryland, Mount Sinai, Agilent Technologies, Stratagene, Transgenomic, OSI Pharmaceuticals, Gene-IT, Malaysian Genome Resource Center

NCRR Awards Cold Spring Harbor Lab $473K for 454 Sequencer
The National Center for Research Resources has awarded Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory $473,927 to purchase a genome sequencer from 454 Life Sciences, according to a National Institutes of Health database.
Dick McCombie is the principal investigator on the grant, which will “permit many new high-throughput applications that are not practical with conventional sequencing methods,” according to the grant abstract.
A number of investigators at CSHL have already been using the 454 technology “through collaborations and through a commercial sequencing service offered by the company,” the abstract stated.
According to the abstract, CSHL will use the new sequencer for several applications, including comparative genomics, sequencing patient samples to identify mutations in disease candidate genes, sequencing of gene classes in patient samples, determining the small RNA content of samples, and genome-wide measurements of protein-nucleic acid interactions.

Fraser-Liggett to Start New Genomics Institute at University of Maryland
Claire Fraser-Liggett will start and lead a new genomics institute at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, the university said last week.
The school said Fraser-Liggett, who recently resigned from her post as president and director of the Institute for Genomic Research, will run the Institute of Genome Sciences, which will be located at the University of Maryland Baltimore BioPark.
Fraser-Liggett “is expected to bring a team of scientists and staff members with her,” E. Albert Reece, dean of the UM School of Medicine, said in a statement.
Reece called the arrival of the other TIGR staffers “a major recruitment initiative,” saying they will “fuel the expansion of genomics research” at the institute. 
The school said Fraser-Liggett will “build on her impressive body of work” in microbial and viral genomics, which has “provided a strong foundation for the development of new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.”
Faculty at the institute will have opportunities to use the med school’s resources, including the Center for Vaccine Development and the Institute of Human Virology for clinical research, said Bruce Jarrell, the medical school’s vice dean for research and academic affairs.
Fraser-Liggett is scheduled to remain at TIGR until April 20.

Mount Sinai to Start Personalized Medicine Institute with $12.5M Seed Grant
The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York said this week that it will use a $12.5 million donation from a regional foundation to establish a research center to study personalized medicine.
Mount Sinai will use the funds, which will be given by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies over 10 years, to start the Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine.
The hospital said it plans to use the gift to create an institution-wide biobank and a translational biomedical informatics center.
The Institute will “bridge the gap between genomics research and clinical patient care in the area of personalized medicine,” said Dennis Charney, who is dean of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at the medical center.

Agilent to Buy Stratagene for $246M; Stratagene CEO Plans Molecular Dx Spin-Off
Agilent Technologies plans to acquire Stratagene for around $246 million in cash, the companies said last week.
Separately, Stratagene CEO Joseph Sorge said he plans to form a new company that will pay $6.6 million for some of Stratagene’s molecular diagnostics assets.
Nick Roelofs, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Life Sciences Solutions segment, said Stratagene’s products and its experience are “highly complementary to Agilent’s life sciences portfolio,” and said it also was lured by Stratagene’s “excellent presence in important academic and government markets.”
Agilent will pay $10.94 a share for Stratagene, a 28-percent premium above Stratagene’s closing price of $8.51 on April 5, the day before the acquisition was announced.
Stratagene said holders of 59 percent of its stock have voted in favor of the deal, and both companies expect the deal to close in around 90 days. The acquisition must still obtain regulatory review and approval from remaining shareholders.

Transgenomic to Analyze Cancer Genetic Mutations for OSI
Transgenomic this week said it will analyze cancer pathway genes for OSI Pharmaceuticals using a high-throughput methodology it developed for characterizing gene variants in malignant tumors.
Transgenomic said it has developed a high-throughput, high-sensitivity methodology for characterizing genetic variants implicated in malignant neoplasia that is based on high-throughput genome scanning with proprietary endonucleases, forward and reverse Sanger sequencing, and variant annotation.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Gene-IT Changes Name to GenomeQuest
Sequence search software firm Gene-IT said this week that it is changing its name to GenomeQuest — the name of its flagship IP search software product.
Ronald Ranauro, president and CEO of GenomeQuest, said in a statement that the new name better communicates the company’s mission, “which is to enable researchers to use search technology to organize and render the world's genetic sequence data and make it easy to access for a broad range of end-users."

Malaysian Genome Resource Center, Regional University Pen Bioinformatics-Training Alliance
The Malaysian Genome Resource Center and a state-owned university in the region will form a bioinformatics research initiative aimed at enhancing the school’s bioinformatics programs, the MGRC said this week.
Under the collaboration, the MGRC will work with Selangor-based Unisel so that its SynaBase software can support the school’s Bachelor of Bioinformatics program.

The Scan

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.