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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon Betty Moore Foundation have selected 15 plant scientists to join a new initiative to accelerate basic research in plant science.

Rob Martienssen, who leads the plant biology group at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, was selected for his work in plant epigenetics. He has published several papers about the link between RNA interference, histone modification, and chromatin structure.

Additionally, he has also led projects to improve sequencing technology and to sequence the genomes of food crops and potential biofuel crops. He holds a BA in natural sciences from Cambridge University, and a PhD from the Plant Breeding Institute and Cambridge University.

Joseph Ecker, professor and director of the Genomic Analysis Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has also been selected for his work in plant genomics. He was instrumental in the genome sequencing and mapping of Arabidopsis thaliana, the first flowering plant to have its genome sequenced and now considered an important model organism. Ecker holds a PhD in microbiology from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.


David Haussler, professor of biomedical engineering at the Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been chosen to receive the 2011 Weldon Memorial Prize from the University of Oxford for contributions to the development of mathematical or statistical methods applied to biology problems.

Haussler is also a Howard Hughes Medical investigator and a leader in the field of bioinformatics. His group has been involved in data analysis for the Cancer Genome Atlas, and has developed a Cancer Genomics Browser to help researchers find patterns in large sets of clinical and genomic data from cancer studies. Haussler is also a founder of the Genome 10K project to sequence and assemble the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species. He is UCSC director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences.


BioNanomatrix has named Todd Dickinson to vice president of product development and Xing Yang to vice president of system integration, as part of an expansion that included opening up a San Diego office (see story, this issue).

Dickinson joined BioNanomatrix from Illumina, where he most recently served as director of product development for Illumina's DNA sequencing business. During his 12 years at Illumina, he held a number of positions including global segment sales director and product marketing director. Prior to Illumina, he was a research associate at Tufts University. He holds a PhD from Tufts University in analytical chemistry.

Yang joined BioNanomatrix from San Diego-based Epic Sciences, which he co-founded and served as vice president of technology, developing genomic assays to study biomarkers in circulating tumor cells. Previously, he was president of research for Helixis, a real-time PCR instrumentation company acquired by Illumina in 2010. Yang also previously served as senior director of systems development for BD Diagnostics-GeneOhm and as a staff scientist at the California Institute of Technology. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering from CalTech.

The Scan

Comfort of Home

The Guardian reports that AstraZeneca is to run more clinical trials from people's homes with the aim of increasing participant diversity.

Keep Under Control

Genetic technologies are among the tools suggested to manage invasive species and feral animals in Australia, Newsweek says.

Just Make It

The New York Times writes that there is increased interest in applying gene synthesis to even more applications.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on OncoDB, mBodyMap, Genomicus

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: database to analyze large cancer datasets, human body microbe database, and more.