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Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Nebraska- Lincoln
Sequencing Sales Specialist – Boston, Pacific Biosciences
Programmer Analyst I, Stowers Institute
Scientist, Illumina
Scientist/Sr. Research Associate, Avantra Biosciences Corporation

Vitamin D Receptor Binding Sites Identified

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Vitamin D seems to influence the activity of scores of genes across the genome and may influence some genes implicated in some human diseases, including some autoimmune conditions and cancers, according to a new study in which researchers mapped vitamin D receptor binding sites across the genome and gauged vitamin D-related expression patterns.

An international research team led by investigators at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics used chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with massively parallel sequencing to find nearly 3,000 vitamin D receptor binding sites in cells treated with active vitamin D. Many of these sites seemed to cluster near genes linked to human diseases and other traits through past genome-wide association studies, they noted.  The study appears in Genome Research.

Two Types of Bone Marrow Stem Cells Could Work Together to Advance Regenerative Medicine

ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2010) — A study led by a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has revealed a unique “partnership” between two types of bone marrow stem cells, which could lead to advances in regenerative medicine.  The study was led by Paul Frenette, M.D., the new director of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research at Einstein. Dr. Frenette conducted the research while at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.  The research was published in the Aug 12 issue of Nature.

Master Control Switch for Breast Cancer Oncogene Discovered

Scientists have discovered an accomplice in breast cancer — a master control switch with the power to set off a cascade of reactions orchestrated by an oncogene named Wnt1. This executive molecule and its modus operandi are reported in back-to-back papers featured on the cover of the August 15 issue of Cancer Research.

Metastasis-Associated Protein 1 Short Form Stimulates Wnt1 Pathway in Mammary Epithelial and Cancer Cells

Metastasis-Associated Protein 1 and Its Short Form Variant Stimulates Wnt1 Transcription through Promoting Its Derepression from Six3 Corepressor

New Method for Delivering Injected Material into Individual Cells

Duke University physicists have developed a way to produce sharp fluid jets with enough precision that they can inject material into a single, living cell. The technique promises a way to deliver drugs to cells one at a time, which is likely to be very valuable for research involving stem cells and other cellular-level studies. The research appears in the current issue of the APS journal Physical Review Letters.

Studying Yeast to Better Understand Male Infertility

ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2010) — Men and yeast have something in common: they use the same molecular process to ensure the integrity of their gene pool during reproduction. This is a recent finding by researchers from CNRS, Inserm and the Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, whose scientists are studying yeast in order to shed light on the numerous cases of male infertility related to the malfunction of this process during spermatogenesis.  

Over the last fifty years, male fertility has declined steadily. Men are thought to have lost half their spermatozoa in half a century, probably because of pollutants. But the fragility of the remaining spermatozoa is also responsible for this situation.   Read the research on the functional dynamics of histones in gametogenesis in Genes and Development.

Salk Institute Leads $21M HIV Research Focusing on Early Immune System Responses

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A new research consortium led by the Salk Institute of Biological Studies and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute will use a $21 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct systems biology-based studies of the earliest immune system responses to HIV infection.

The multidisciplinary research effort will include DNA sequencing, expression analysis, RNAi analysis, mass spectrometry, and other efforts aimed at discovering the cellular protein mechanisms that are the first line of defense against HIV.

Along with Salk and Sanford-Burnham, the research program will fund research at the University of California, San Francisco; Mount Sinai School of Medicine; the University of California, San Diego; Northwestern University; and the University of Pennsylvania.

“The events that occur immediately after exposure to HIV, which determines the ability of the virus to establish infection and ultimately shape the course of the disease, are very poorly understood,” Sumit Chanda, an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute, said in statement.

“This grant funds a multi-center consortium that will integrate cutting edge technologies in systems biology and next-generation sequencing, with world-leading expertise in immunology and virology to decode and model the early molecular events that occur after HIV enters the body,” Chanda added. “These projects will be fundamental towards the development of safe and effective HIV vaccines, as well as novel preventative therapies for HIV.”

The research will include next-generation sequencing focused on identifying relevant polymorphisms at Northwestern University, microarray expression analysis at Burnham and Mount Sinai, high-throughput affinity purification mass-spec approaches at UCSF, and large-scale RNAi analysis projects at Sanford-Burnham, Chanda told GenomeWeb Daily News in an e-mail.

NIH to Fund Research into Environmental Stress Biomarkers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will lead a program to give a total of $2.6 million for five or six projects over two years that seek to validate candidate biomarkers and technologies that measure biological responses to chemical toxicants and other environmental stressors.

The specific goal of this research program, which also is supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is to validate markers and technologies by using existing epidemiological studies with extensive exposure information.

Called “Validation and Field Testing of Novel Biomarkers of Response to Environmental Stressors,” this grant program will give up to $300,000 in direct costs per year over two years.

The range of biomarkers studied under these grants could include gene expression signatures, protein markers, metabolites, measures of DNA damage, or epigenetic marks, provided that they can be detected in minimally invasive samples and potentially could be scaled up for large-scale studies.

These studies could include pilot testing and validation of biomarkers of response to exposures such as chemical toxicants, primary and secondary tobacco smoke, dietary constituents and contaminants, alcohol, and physiological measures of stress.

Research approaches could include, but are not limited to verifying that the markers or signatures can be detected in multiple populations with similar exposures; evaluating performance of biomarker tools and assays with samples collected under real world conditions; testing candidate markers to understand how biomarkers change over time, and whether a subset of biomarkers represent persistent changes associated with exposure; and comparing results from novel biomarker profiles to current methodologies or existing reference measures, where they are appropriate

NAS President named to Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

By William Kearney

August 11, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Energy announced yesterday that National Academy of Sciences President Ralph J. Cicerone will serve as a member of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, representing the NAS. Also joining Cicerone are five members of the National Academy of Engineering:

Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corp.; Nicholas M. Donofrio, retired executive vice president of innovation and technology, IBM Corp.; Charles O. Holliday Jr., chairman of Bank of America and former chairman and CEO of DuPont; William J. Perry, former U.S. secretary of defense and now a professor at Stanford University; and Arthur H. Rosenfeld, a guest faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and former commissioner of the California Energy Commission. The 12-member board has been re-established to advise Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on basic and applied research, economic and national security policy, educational issues, operational issues, and other activities related to DOE’s mission. Chu himself is an NAS member

Foldit – Play A Video Game, Contribute To Medical Science

A new game, named Foldit, turns protein folding into a competitive sport. Introductory levels teach the rules, which are the same laws of physics by which protein strands curl and twist into three-dimensional shapes – key for biological mysteries ranging from Alzheimer’s to vaccines.

After about 20 minutes of training, people feel like they’re playing a video game but are actually mouse-clicking in the name of medical science.