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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


NIH Examines What Drove Its Grant Success Rate to a Record Low

Last week, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that the success rate for research grants, a closely watched indicator of how well investigators are doing in the struggle for funds, fell to an all-time low in 2011: 18%. At first glance, the drop appears to be due to increased competition, reflected in a steep rise on applications last year. But several other factors are also at play, including budget decisions made years ago, says NIH extramural research chief Sally Rockey.

The success rate is the number of funded grants divided by reviewed applications. The 18% success rate, announced by Rockey on her blog, is down 3% from 2010 and is slightly higher than a preliminary estimate last fall. It continues a decline from success rates of around 30% a decade ago when NIH's budget was growing. Part of the explanation is that the denominator is larger: investigators sent a record 49,592 research grant proposals to NIH last year, an 8% rise.

But that's not the whole story, Rockey says in a blog post today. Much of the rise is explained by a 17% increase in proposals for a specific category of funding—short-term R21 grants. The mainstay for most labs is the larger R01, NIH's individual investigator-initiated grant, for which the success rate slid from 22% in 2010 to 18% in 2011. Applications rose 3% for R01s. Another reason for success rate slippage is that NIH funded fewer R01 grants copmpeting compared with 2010. That's partly because the size of the average grant grew slightly and because NIH had less to spend overall on R01s (its budget was cut 1% last year).

But the most important factor, accounting for 1.5% of the success rate drop, is that a larger portion of R01 money than usual was tied up in already-awarded grants. Because most NIH grants last 3 to 5 years, each award creates several years of unfunded future commitments. The amount of money needed for these ongoing grants rose by $189 million in 2011, Rockey reports. "This demonstrates how carefully we need to manage our funds since funding decisions in any one year have implications for the out years," she writes. She posted a graph showing how the share of NIH's R01 money committed to ongoing grants fluctuates year to year. In 2011 it jumped to 78%, the highest level in 4 years.

A close NIH observer, Howard Garrison of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, says managing that out-year commitment is a delicate balancing act for the agency. If NIH gets a generous increase one year and doesn't fund more grants, "People like me go crazy because the money isn't going out on the streets," he says. Yet if Congress cuts NIH's budget a couple of years later and NIH's commitment has grown, "you're toast," and success rates plunge.

Rockey's bottom line: "The success rate is complicated and it's not just a single factor" that drives it, she told ScienceInsider. She adds that success rates don't necessarily reflect "the quantity of science" NIH is funding. The pool of funded investigators has remained fairly steady in recent years, she says.

Although NIH received a modest 0.8% increase in 2012, the agency appears to be girding for a period of austerity. A notice today states that continuing grants will get no inflationary increase in 2012 and new awards will not receive inflationary increases in future years.

by Jocelyn Kaiser on 20 January 2012 at

World-Class Scientists Chosen for HHMI’s First International Early Career Award

January 24, 2012

Top biomedical scientists from 12 countries will receive an important boost at a critical time in their careers from HHMI’s inaugural International Early Career Scientist (IECS) awards.

The 28 recipients, chosen from 760 applicants, represent a wide range of disciplines, from neuroscience to virology to plant science. All the awardees trained in the United States as a graduate student or a postdoctoral fellow and have published important research. “These are the people who, 10 years from now, we expect will be the scientific leaders in their countries,” HHMI President Robert Tjian says.

The countries with the most IECS awardees are China (7), Portugal (5), and Spain (5), but recipients are also based in nine other countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, India, Italy, Poland, South Africa, and South Korea. Nine of the 28 (32 percent) are women.

“We want their association with HHMI to have a significant impact on their careers,” says Jack E. Dixon, HHMI’s vice president and chief scientific officer. “It is important to have highly educated, effective scholars around the world, and we want to help those people build successful labs.”

These researchers—who have all run their own labs for less than seven years—will be integrated into HHMI’s scientific community, attending meetings and giving talks to HHMI’s investigators and early career scientists. HHMI funds 327 HHMI investigators and 48 early career scientists who direct laboratories at universities and research organizations throughout the United States. Among them are 13 Nobel Prize winners and 147 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

“This program is about building connections internationally,” says Edwin W. McCleskey, a scientific officer at HHMI who helps run the IECS program. “We have chosen talented people who we feel can build connections with our scientists.”

International programs are an important focus of the Institute, and Tjian was especially interested in strengthening ties to international labs given the worldwide connections of HHMI’s scientists. A June 2010 survey by HHMI of its investigators and early career scientists showed that 73 percent of those who responded collaborate internationally, and 62 percent have international postdoctoral students in their laboratories.

“Some young scientists really want to succeed in the scientific arena but see no opportunity to do that in their own countries,” Tjian says. “We hope this program will help change that.”

The 28 IECS awardees will each receive $650,000: $100,000 a year for five years plus $150,000 the first year for major equipment purchases and other investments (an additional supplement will go to their university or research institution). This represents a total commitment by HHMI of more than $20 million. The funding will start in February 2012.

The IECS program is the latest incarnation of HHMI’s international grants to individual researchers. Since 1991, HHMI has spent more than $145 million to fund international scientists working in specific geographic areas—including Canada, Latin America, and Eastern Europe—or in a specific field of research, such as parasitology and infectious disease.

When it came time to rethink those grants, Tjian and Dixon decided to design a program that provided support for early career scientists who would benefit most from a financial boost and the connection with HHMI’s scientific community. The research arena for early career scientists can be challenging internationally. For example, funding to help new scientists start up their labs can be quite variable, and often much less is available than in the United States.

Tjian and Dixon also decided to home in on countries where HHMI’s funding or connections could make the most difference. They thought HHMI support wouldn’t make much difference in countries where research funds are already plentiful, but they realized that not all countries make science a priority. “We chose countries that had the economic and educational infrastructure to support the level of science that we’re talking about, which is very expensive,” Tjian says.

Scientists from 18 countries were eligible to apply, and HHMI received 760 applications. A rigorous peer-review process narrowed the field to 55 semifinalists from 14 countries. For the first time, HHMI invited the semifinalists to give a 15-minute scientific presentation as part of the selection process. They delivered their talks to an international panel of scientific reviewers at a symposium in early November 2011 at HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia.

“The major criterion was really scientific excellence: what have they accomplished in their young careers; what kind of potential did they have; could they explain their science in a clear way,” Dixon says. See a bio of each awardee here.

The IECS program is just one part of HHMI’s current international efforts. In 2009, HHMI committed $60 million to build a new research institute in Durban, South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH), dedicated to studying the deadly co-epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis. The Institute also funds International Student Research Fellowships to support international graduate students doing research at U.S. universities.

Meet the International Early Career Scientists

Monday, January 23, 2012


Neuroscientists Identify a Master Controller of Memory

Newswise — When you experience a new event, your brain encodes a memory of it by altering the connections between neurons. This requires turning on many genes in those neurons. Now, MIT neuroscientists have identified what may be a master gene that controls this complex process.

The findings, described in the Dec. 23 issue of Science, not only reveal some of the molecular underpinnings of memory formation — they may also help neuroscientists pinpoint the exact locations of memories in the brain.

The research team, led by Yingxi Lin, a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, focused on the Npas4 gene, which previous studies have shown is turned on immediately following new experiences. The gene is particularly active in the hippocampus, a brain structure known to be critical in forming long-term memories.

Lin and her colleagues found that Npas4 turns on a series of other genes that modify the brain’s internal wiring by adjusting the strength of synapses, or connections between neurons. “This is a gene that can connect from experience to the eventual changing of the circuit,” says Lin, the Frederick and Carole Middleton Career Development Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

To investigate the genetic mechanisms of memory formation, the researchers studied a type of learning known as contextual fear conditioning: Mice receive a mild electric shock when they enter a specific chamber. Within minutes, the mice learn to fear the chamber, and the next time they enter it, they freeze.

The researchers showed that Npas4 is turned on very early during this conditioning. “This sets Npas4 apart from many other activity-regulated genes,” Lin says. “A lot of them are ubiquitously induced by all these different kinds of stimulations; they are not really learning-specific.”

Furthermore, Npas4 activation occurs primarily in the CA3 region of the hippocampus, which is already known to be required for fast learning.

“We think of Npas4 as the initial trigger that comes on, and then in turn, in the right spot in the brain, it activates all these other downstream targets. Eventually they’re going to modify synapses in a way that’s likely changing synaptic inhibition or some other process that we’re trying to figure out,” says Kartik Ramamoorthi, a graduate student in Lin’s lab and lead author of the paper.

Genetic regulation

So far, the researchers have identified only a few of the genes regulated by Npas4, but they suspect there could be hundreds more. Npas4 is a transcription factor, meaning it controls the copying of other genes into messenger RNA — the genetic material that carries protein-building instructions from the nucleus to the rest of the cell. The MIT experiments showed that Npas4 binds to the activation sites of specific genes and directs an enzyme called RNA polymerase II to start copying them.

“Npas4 is providing this instructive signal,” Ramamoorthi says. “It’s telling the polymerase to land at certain genes, and without it, the polymerase doesn’t know where to go. It’s just floating around in the nucleus.”

When the researchers knocked out the gene for Npas4, they found that mice could not remember their fearful conditioning. They also found that this effect could be produced by knocking out the gene just in the CA3 region of the hippocampus. Knocking it out in other parts of the hippocampus, however, had no effect. Though they focused on contextual fear conditioning, the researchers believe that Npas4 will also prove critical for other types of learning.

Gleb Shumyatsky, an assistant professor of genetics at Rutgers University, says that an important next step is to identify more of the genes controlled by Npas4, which should reveal more of its role in memory formation. “It’s definitely one of the major players,” says Shumyatsky, who was not involved in this research. “Future experiments will show how major a player it is.”

The MIT team also plans to investigate whether the same neurons that turn on Npas4 when memories are formed also turn it on when memories are retrieved. This could help them pinpoint the exact neurons that are storing particular memories.

“We’re hunting for the memory, and we think we can use Npas4 to mark where it is,” Ramamoorthi says. “That’s because it’s turned on specifically and now we can label the cells and maybe fish out where in the brain the memory is sitting.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Insight: New DNA reader to bring promise

By Sharon Begley

NEW YORK | Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:06pm EST

(Reuters) - After years of predictions that the "$1,000 genome" - a read-out of a person's complete genetic information for about the cost of a dental crown - was just around the corner, a U.S. company is announcing Tuesday that it has achieved that milestone and taken the technology several steps ahead.

The new genome-sequencing machine from Ion Torrent, a division of Life Technologies Corp., in Guilford, Connecticut, is 1,000 times more powerful than existing technology, says CEO and chairman Jonathan Rothberg.

Taking up about as much space as an office printer, it can sequence an entire genome in a single day rather than six to eight weeks required only a few years ago. The new sequencer, says cardiologist Eric Topol, chief academic officer of private California hospital and doctor network Scripps Health, "represents an exceptional advance and can change medicine."

Ion Torrent will sell the tabletop machine, called the Ion Proton Sequencer, for $99,000 to $149,000, making it affordable for large medical practices or clinics; existing sequencers cost up to $750,000. The computer chip and biochemicals to sequence a genome will cost $1,000, compared to, for example, $3,000 to test for mutations just in the BRCA genes that raise the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and $5,000 for a complete genome sequencing by Ion Torrent competitor Illumina Inc.

For a graphic on the shrinking cost of genome sequencing, see:

For now, Rothberg expects research labs to be his main customers, using Proton to obtain the complete genome sequence of people with cancer or autism, for instance, and thereby elucidate a disease's underlying genetic causes as well as possible ways to treat it. The company has signed on Baylor College of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine and the Broad Institute as its first customers.

Other scientists and physicians, however, say the long-awaited arrival of the $1,000 genome opens the door to widespread whole-genome sequencing even of people who are not ill. And that raises ethical, legal, and medical issues that experts are only beginning to grapple with.

"I'm a big proponent of bringing genetics into the clinic," says Thomas Quertermous, chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University and an expert in the genetics of heart disease. "But it has to be done in a timely way, and not before its time."

Babies might be first in line for whole-genome sequencing. Every state requires newborns to be screened for at least 29 genetic diseases.

"If the cost of whole-genome sequencing gets sufficiently low, you could sequence all the genes in a newborn" for less than the individual tests and follow-ups required when one comes back positive, says Richard Lifton, chairman of the genetics department at Yale University. "I'm increasingly confident that's going to happen. But we need to be careful how we utilize this information. Do you tell a newborn's parents his apoE status" -- that is, whether he has the form of a gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer's disease?

The cost of whole-genome sequencing will continue to plummet. Lifton foresees a "zero-dollar genome," making it likely that "we will just do it as part of routine clinical care" for children and adults. A Yale team led by Murat Gunel has already used partial genome sequencing of the 1.5 percent of the genome, called the exome, that codes for proteins to determine the cause of a mysterious and still unnamed genetic disease that results in severe brain malformations.

Because no genes had been identified as causing the malformation, it was not possible to do a standard genetic test, which reveals whether a particular gene is normal or mutated. But exome sequencing showed that a previously unknown gene on chromosome 19 is responsible, he and colleagues reported in 2010. "The new Proton instrument is a big step up," says Lifton. "It promises to markedly increase the speed and reduce the cost of genome-level sequencing."


The discovery of the mutation behind the mysterious genetic disorder demonstrated the advantage of whole-genome sequencing compared to single-gene tests, as scientists can't test for a gene they don't know exists. Beyond such uses, say experts, whole-genome sequencing might not be the medical miracle that proponents forecast.

One problem is that the costs only start with the actual sequencing. "The cost of understanding the sequence will be much, much higher," says bioethicist Hank Greely of Stanford University. He participated in a 2010 project that sequenced the full genome of Stanford bioengineer Stephen Quake. The sequencing cost $48,000.

But because it found 2.6 million DNA misspellings and 752 other genetic glitches, says Greely, "it took a few hundred thousand dollars worth of labor from Ph.D. students and faculty working 4,000 to 5,000 hours to understand what the sequence meant" -- that Quake had a higher-than-average risk of sudden cardiac death, a lower risk of Alzheimer's, and a higher risk of prostate cancer.

Another challenge is that whole-genome sequencing generates a tsunami of data. It would take a genetic counselor some five hours to explain what a typical genome means, further adding to the true cost. The United States has about 2,500 genetic counselors, not nearly enough to meet the need if whole-genome sequencing becomes widespread. Might doctors take up the slack? "Surveys show that 90 percent of patients trust their physician to explain genomics data to them," says Scripps' Topol. "And 90 percent of physicians say they don't feel comfortable with genomics data."

Although many bioethicists focus on the psychological harm patients might suffer when DNA tests show an elevated risk of cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, and other diseases, genomics information could also threaten patients' physical health if it is misconstrued. A woman whose DNA sequencing shows she does not carry BRCA mutations that raise her risk of breast cancer "might say, great, I don't need mammograms," says Stanford's Greely. "But a negative BRCA test reduces her risk of breast cancer from 12 percent to 11.96 percent. My dread is less that patients will be damaged psychologically and more that they will misunderstand (genome sequence data) and do stupid things."

Unlike tests that detect glitches in genes that a patient or physician asks to have checked (those that raise the risk of, say, colon cancer if that disease runs in the family), and unlike the dozens of genes that "personal genetics" companies test for, whole-genome sequencing reveals every bit of information the genome contains about diseases or traits.

Given the ubiquity of mutations, everyone carries genes that predispose them to more than one serious or lethal disease. Bioethicists are only beginning to study how that knowledge might affect someone's decisions, from marrying or having children to saving for retirement.

Another challenge is that although a person's genome doesn't change, its meaning will. As scientists uncover more DNA variants that protect against disease and variants that make it more likely, a genome sequence that meant one thing in 2012 will have a different meaning in 2013, not to mention 2020.

A DNA variant that was once thought to be dangerous "might turn out to be benign if countered by another," says Greely. "Whose responsibility will it be to tell you that, years later?" Today's DNA testing companies offer subscriptions that give customers regular updates like that.

Geneticists are also still struggling with the fact that most of the risk genes raise the likelihood that the person will develop the disease only slightly. "The bottom line is, the effect size is so small it's virtually insignificant clinically," says Quertermous. "So how should doctors incorporate that knowledge into their armamentarium? They won't be able to look at 6 billion data bits" - the amount in a whole-genome scan - "and evaluate what it means for patients."

Knowing a patient's whole-genome sequence, even if it raises the risk of diseases by only a few percent, might lead malpractice-wary doctors to order follow-up tests. If someone's genome suggests an elevated risk of heart disease, for instance, a physician might feel compelled to order regular cardiac CT angiograms, which cost $1,500 or more.

That would not only raise health-care costs, but might put patients through a physically and psychologically onerous ordeal unnecessarily. "There is no evidence that 'positive' (DNA) tests, based only on the screening for common genetic variations, will justify a specific medical follow-up and procure a medical benefit to individuals," argues geneticist Thierry Frebourg of University Hospital in Rouen, France in a commentary in an upcoming issue of the European Journal of Human Genetics. Instead, whole-genome sequencing might join the ranks of diagnostics, such as PSA tests for prostate cancer, that cost tens of millions of dollars a year but do not benefit patients, let alone save lives.


Full-genome sequencing could provide real benefits in determining which patients will benefit from a drug. For instance, only half the hepatitis C patients who take Pegasys, a $50,000-a-year drug from Roche Holding AG's Genentech, and half the rheumatoid arthritis patients who take $26,000-a-year Enbrel from Amgen Inc and Pfizer Inc, benefit from them, notes Scripps' Topol, who analyzes the potential benefits of genomic medicine in his upcoming book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine.

Using genomic data to identify which patients will and will not benefit could save patients and insurers tens of billions of dollars a year now spent on ineffective drugs.

If genetic information causes patients to take better care of themselves - eating more healthfully if they carry genes that raise the risk of diabetes or heart disease, for instance - they can improve health. One 2010 study found that of people who bought direct-to-consumer genetic testing by companies such as 23andme, 34 percent said the results made them more careful about their diet and 14 percent exercised more.

Others incorrectly see DNA as destiny, and interpret an increased genetic risk of, say, obesity as a license to overeat, thinking they are fated to be fat. "Good" genes might lead to equally dangerous behavior. "A patient with hypertension might be told by his doctor, 'I've looked at your DNA and you're clean!'," says Stanford's Quertermous. "He might think, great, I don't need to check my blood pressure anymore or even take my medication."

As the science advances, however, the value of whole-genome sequencing to patients will grow. The common DNA variants that have been identified "account for only a small part of the heritability of disease," says Kari Stefansson, founder, chairman, and CEO of deCode Genetics of Reykjavik, Iceland.

"The expectation is that a significant part of the missing heritability lies in rare variants, and to find those you have to do whole-genome sequencing." deCode is sequencing the complete genomes of 3,750 Icelanders, and has so far identified rare variants with large effects on the risk of ovarian cancer, glioma, gout, and heart conditions that require a pacemaker. Those discoveries would have been difficult or impossible without whole-genome sequencing.

Whole-genome sequencing also promises to address one of the most troubling problems with current DNA tests, which probe some of the 1,500 or so genes that have been associated with disease out of a total of 22,000 human genes. But scientists do not know how disease risk is raised or lowered by "moderator genes," which affect other genes. "Do we know how combinations of genes affect risk?" Stanford's Quertermous asks. "The answer is completely no." As a result, the disease risk that is calculated from current genetic tests might be inaccurate. With millions of whole-genome sequences, biologists believe, they can begin to work out those crucial combined effects.

One upcoming study shows how important gene combinations can be. In research scheduled for publication in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, scientists led by Charis Eng of the Cleveland Clinic examined the incidence of breast, thyroid, and other cancers in patients carrying a mutation in a gene called PTEN. Such mutations are typically interpreted as raising the risk of cancer. But Eng found that the presence or absence of mutations in another gene, called SDHx, can alter that risk.

"Current genetic testing, which looks at only a few genes, is like trying to forecast the stock market by looking at just 26 stocks," says Eng of the Cleveland Clinic. Such limited genetic data can be misleading.

In a separate study of 44 patients, scheduled for publication in the European Journal of Human Genetics, Eng and colleagues find that family medical history assessed the risk of breast, colon and prostate cancer more accurately than DNA sequencing. For instance, family history correctly classified eight women as being at high risk for breast cancer. But only one of the eight was so classified by DNA. "For now, family health history is a better predictor of cancer risk than genomic testing, which looks at too few genes," Eng says.

Because whole-genome sequencing is not yet being marketed to consumers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not taken a position on it. But it is concerned by existing tests that are sold directly to the public by Navigenics, Pathway Genomics and 23andme, and has invited companies that sell them to meet with agency officials to work out ways "to provide consumers with accurate, reliable kits," says FDA spokeswoman Erica Jefferson.

Until then, the companies are prohibited from marketing the tests to the public. "Manufacturers have not provided scientific evidence about the accuracy and reliability of their tests, which can lead to incorrect treatment decisions with serious health consequences," says Jefferson. "The risk of getting a disease depends on a set of complex interactions," so "even people with the same genetic make-up may have different risks of disease."

Gene-sequencing companies understand the challenges.

"Each genome has probably 24,000 mutations that we can understand," says Ion Torrent's Rothberg. "But there are probably 400 that have never been seen before" and whose significance for health is an enigma. Ion Torrent is working on algorithms to determine the medical significance of the millions of DNA glitches that will be found in every genome. Companies such as Personalis, of Palo Alto, California, have sprung up to determine the medical significance of whole-genome sequences. That will take years.

"We recognize this is just the beginning," Rothberg says.

Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Webinars

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is offering free webinars in the month of January for all members. Access the national organization at or the local chapter at Normally a $129.00 value, these programs are offered absolutely free to AWIS members as a member benefit. Here is a listing of what we are offering in January:

Friday, January 20 – Research Series: What is Research Project Management and How is it Different?
Speaker: Susan Singer, SCPM, AWIS Consultant

Monday, January 23 – Careers Outside Academia Series: A Career in Patent Law – Another Way to Use Your Science Degree
Speaker: Katherine Hamer, JD, Shareholder and Officer, TraskBritt, PC

Tuesday, January 31 – Career Development Series: Informational Interviews – Get the Inside Scoop on Your Future Career
Speaker: Dr. Allison Beal, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

For more info and to register: click here!
Questions? Email Cindy Simpson at or call 703.894.4490.

Postdoctoral Position at Duke

A post-doctoral position is available immediately in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Premont at Duke University, to study neuronal signaling pathways regulating emotional learning and memory in mice and establishing mouse models for post traumatic stress disorder and mental retardation.

The position requires a PhD in a relevant discipline (Neurobiology, Cell Biology) and experiences in behavioral research with rodents, immunohistochemistry and imaging, as well as primary neuronal cell culture.

Deadline to apply: Feb 17, 2012
Please apply by email, sending a single PDF file including a current CV, a statement of research experience and future interests, and the names of three referees.

Contact Name:
Richard T. Premont, Ph.D.
Contact Email:

Geisinger Medical Center Biostatistical Analyst Opportunities

Geisinger Health System has an immediate opening for an Advanced Biostatistical Analyst at its Center for Health Research:

Responsible for providing statistical support as a consultant or collaborator, to clinical and health service investigators within the Geisinger Health System. Responsible for managing staff of the Biostatistical unit in the Center for Health Research. Reports to the Staff Biostatistician/Epidemologist or Director, Health Research.

*Masters Degree in Statistics or closely related field required.
*Minimum of 5-8 years experience with major statistical software packages required.
*Minimum of 8 years successful experience in effectively communication quantitative information to medical and administrative personnel is necessary.
*Record of independent or collaborative publications required

Candidates should apply through the Geisinger Employment Website, Please link to "Research."

Bioinformatics Engineer at Affymetrix

Affymetrix seeks a talented and motivated individual to provide bioinformatics support for Scientific Services and microarray design in Santa Clara, CA. The main focus of the position will be support of the operations of Bioinformatics Services. Strong emphasis will be placed on the analysis, interpretation, and trouble-shooting of project-level microarray data in order to boost services stability, predictability and sample quality. Duties will also include creating chip and mask designs for commercial and custom probe arrays, which is one of the most critical steps of a probe array production.

Click here for more info & to apply!

Bioinformatics Scientist - Epigenetics and Epigenomics

Kelly Scientific Resources is currently recruiting for a highly skilled professional in the area of bioinformatics. Their client is a well known government research institution in Research Triangle Park, NC. This high-level contract position affords competitive pay along with the opportunity to work with some of the top scientists in this field. The successful candidate will be able to develop cutting edge research and technologies and be published in top scientific journals.

Partial Requirements:
- Ph. D. or equivalent graduate degree in bioinformatics, biostatistics or computational biology.
- Minimum of two to four (2-4) years post graduation experience in the field of bioinformatics.
- Demonstrated experience working with large data derived in the examination of epigenetic/epigenomic biology.

Click here for more info & to apply!


Laboratory Systems Administrator – Eastern North Carolina

Kelly Scientific Resources currently has a direct hire opportunity for a talented Laboratory Systems Administrator that is committed to working under the highest standards of integrity and ethics to produce products of excellent quality and reliability. This is a first shift, direct hire opportunity. Kelly's client is a leader in the development and manufacturing of medication delivery systems, specialty injectable pharmaceuticals, and critical care devices. This company in Eastern North Carolina is consistently involved in some of the most innovative research within the pharmaceutical industry.

Click here for more info & to apply!

Program Director Position at Cornell Center

Cornell University is seeking candidates for the position of Program Director, CU-CIRTL (Cornell Center for the Integration of Teaching, Research and Learning).

Reporting to the Dean of the Graduate School and the Director for the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Program Director will be responsible for coordinating the activities of CU-CIRTL, which includes developing and leading a comprehensive program for graduate student and postdoc professional development in teaching, as well as faculty development programming on mentoring graduate students and postdocs. The incumbent will also act as the liaison for the CIRTL program with the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and other administrative offices of both private and public institutions of higher education, especially CIRTL personnel at partner institutions.

This is a three-year term position, with renewal possible.

Click here for more info & to apply!

Senior Research Associate–Healthcare

Sanford C. Bernstein is widely recognized as Wall Street’s premier sell-side research firm. They are looking for Senior Research Associates to join the Specialty Pharmaceutical and Global Biotech teams in New York. As a Senior Research Associate, you will acquire expertise in your industry sector as well as learn the most rigorous level of fundamental company and financial analysis. You will contribute to our written product, build complex financial models, and interact with company managements as well as sales, trading, and institutional clients.

Bernstein prefers applicants for this position to have an advanced degree in life sciences (PhD or MD preferred) from a top institution and at least three years of experience in health care research, management consulting or finance. Experience in the health care sector, specifically Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals or Medical Devices, is also highly preferred for this opportunity. The ideal candidate should be a consummate team player who seeks a highly rigorous and challenging environment for their career development.

For more info or to apply: Send your resume and cover letter to Laura Burg at, including your academic grades (including overall GPA) and relevant test scores (i.e., SATs including breakdown, GMAT/GRE etc.)

Life Science Specialist in Louisville, KY

VWR International, LLC, is a global distributor of laboratory supplies and services whose reach and range focus on customer value. Headquartered in Radnor, Pa., with worldwide sales in excess of $3.6 billion in 2010, VWR delivers a world of supplies and services that accelerate science through the distribution of a highly diversified product line to most of the world's top pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as industrial, educational and governmental organizations.

Job Description:
This established position reporting to the Director of Life Science Sales, will be responsible for the daily promotion of suppliers and products within the VWR Life Science portfolio.
- Sell entire VWR Life Science product portfolio, with emphasis on bioMarket suppliers
- Close sales on more technical products, working in conjunction with generalist reps
- Identify and assist in the process of converting competitive products to items available from VWR
- Identify leads and new lab business
- Train and motivate the VWR general reps to sell target product areas
- Sell and communicate VWR program strength to VWR sales reps, customers, and potential suppliers
- Help manage Life Science portfolio in local area, and ensure effective communication to sales reps, sales managers, and area vice presidents of sales goals, trends, and performance, in support of local sales growth plans
- Assume overall territory ownership, along with VWR general sales reps and management team by attending regional meetings, strategy sessions, key account blitzes and on-site technical seminars

For more info & to apply:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Awards

The National Research Council (NRC) administers competitive graduate postdoctoral and senior research awards on behalf of 26 U.S. government research agencies and affiliated institutions with facilities at over 100 locations throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Graduate and postdoctoral awards are for 12 months with renewal for a second or third year determined by evaluation of the Associate’s progress. Research Associates receive annual stipends ranging from $42,000 to $75,000 for recent graduates and proportionally higher for Senior Associates. In addition, the NRC provides health insurance, relocation benefits and an allowance for professional travel. The host laboratory provides research facilities, equipment and funding for supplies to support the Associate’s research.

Deadline to apply: Feb 1, 2012. For more information:

2012-2013 California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships

The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2012-2013 California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships based in Sacramento.

The S&T Policy Fellowship, a unique one-year professional development opportunity, provides the selected fellows with hands-on experience working with the California Legislature to incorporate science and technology into public policy. Eligible applicants will be PhD-level (or equivalent) scientists and engineers who have a sincere interest in California current events, the state legislative process, and a strong desire to learn how policy decisions are made.

Deadline to apply: Feb 29, 2012, 5pm PST. For more info:

UPenn Short-term Neuroethics Fellowships

The Center for Neuroscience & Society at U. of Pennsylvania is now accepting applications for an intensive 2-week fellowship program designed for young neuroscientists interested in the ethical, legal, and societal implications of their field. The Penn Center for Neuroscience & Society will host 12 neuroscience postdoctoral fellows and graduate students for study and research, May 29 - June 8, 2012. Activities will include a neuroethics seminar, training in science communication and individual research projects on neuroethical issues related to the participants’ research areas. Office space and accommodations will be provided along with a $1,000 stipend.

Deadline to apply: Feb 24, 2012. For more info and to apply:

AACR Clinical and Translational Cancer Research Fellowships

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Clinical and Translational Cancer Research Fellowships are open to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows working at an academic, medical or research institution who will be in the first five years of their postdoctoral training at the start of the grant term. Proposed research projects may be in any area of clinical and/or translational cancer research. The fellowships provide a one-year $45,000 grant to support the salary and benefits of the fellow while working on a mentored clinical and/or translational cancer research project. A partial amount of funds may be designated for research/laboratory supplies and equipment. It is anticipated that at least two fellowships will be funded.

Deadline to apply: Jan 11, 2012, 12pm EST. For more info & to apply:

AACR-Genentech BioOncology Fellowship for Cancer Research

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Genentech BioOncology Fellowship for Cancer Research on the HER Family Pathway represents a joint effort to encourage and support postdoctoral and clinical research fellows who are in the first five years of their fellowship training (at the start of the grant term) to conduct cancer research on the HER family pathway and establish successful career paths in this field. Proposed research projects are restricted to basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological projects that substantially advance the field of cancer research on the HER family pathway. The fellowship provides $90,000 over two-years ($45,000 per year) to support the salary and benefits of the Fellow while working on a mentored cancer research project. A partial amount of funds may be designated for research/laboratory supplies and equipment.

Deadline to apply: Jan 10, 2012, 12pm EST. For more info & to apply:

Postdoc Positions in Melanoma Signal Transduction

The Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has postdoctoral fellowship positions available in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew E. Aplin. The research focuses on signaling pathways in melanoma and resistance to RAF inhibitors. The laboratory is funded by NIH/NCI, American Cancer Society and the Department of Defense. It is part of a NCI-designated Cancer Center with access to outstanding core facilities. The Cancer Center is located in downtown Philadelphia.

Candidates with a recent PhD and expertise in molecular and cellular biology are encouraged to apply.

Applicants should submit a resume and the names of references to:
Andrew E. Aplin, Ph.D.
Department of Cancer Biology,
Kimmel Cancer Center
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Postdoc Fellowship in Neuroscience

Thomas Jefferson University Medical College in Philadelphia has a postdoctoral fellowship position available immediately for an individual with an interest in examining the role of astrocyte functions such as glutamate transport in animal models of spinal cord injury (SCI) and the neurodegenerative disorder, ALS. The candidate should also have an interest in stem cell biology and gene therapy, both for understanding disease etiology and developing therapeutics via strategies such as transplantation.

Requirements: Candidates should have a Ph.D. in Neuroscience or related discipline (or M.D. with extensive Neuroscience research experience), 0-3 years of post-doctoral experience, a strong publication record, written and spoken English proficiency, and importantly a willingness to work collaboratively in an extremely friendly environment.

For more info & to apply:

Postdoc Position at Duke, Gastroenterology

A postdoctoral position is available immediately in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Premont at Duke University, to study signaling pathways regulating fear and anxiety behavior ( ). The ideal candidate has a doctoral degree in a relevant discipline (Neurobiology, Pharmacology), and experience in behavioral research using genetically modified mice and in molecular neuroscience (particularly primary neuron culture and brain immunohistochemistry).

Deadline to apply: Wed Feb 1, 2012
To apply: Send a single PDF file including a current CV, a statement of research experience and future interests, and the names of three referees to:
Richard T. Premont, PhD
Department of Medicine
Duke University Medical Center
Box 3083 DUHS
Durham, NC 27710 USA or by email to

Associate Director, Inducible Gene Expression Systems, Intrexon, Germantown MD

The Associate Director of Inducible Gene Expression Systems will work with members of the Applied Research Unit to coordinate the design and testing of gene network architectures, DNA and RNA-encoded transcription and translation regulatory elements, proteins, and small molecules for the purpose of developing inducible gene expression systems. This position will assume a leading role in understanding the global perspective on all internal technology efforts related to gene transcription and translation control, and external technologies and opportunities with the potential to expand the scope of Intrexon’s core technology and therapeutic programs.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
- Plan, implement, manage and report as scientific lead on current and future technology development projects related to Intrexon’s RheoSwitch Inducible Transcription Technology
-- Design studies and interact with internal and external wet labs for study execution
-- Interact with other subject matter expert scientists, direct a project team.
- Search primary literature and online databases to identify candidate transcription and translation control technologies.
- Prepare technology analysis reports for CSO and business development teams.
- Direct the planning, monitoring, analysis, and reporting of information which identifies gene/transcription technologies of competing and/or potential value to Intrexon’s current and future core and therapeutic programs

Education and Experience
- PhD in Genetics, Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology or related field with Five (5) or more years of post-graduate experience.

Desired Key Competencies
* Experience developing transcription and/or translation control systems in stable cell lines or transgenic animals.
* Experience in management of CROs is preferred
* Experience in Program/Project design and management is strongly preferred
* Demonstrates the highest ethical standards and trustworthiness
* Possess a high degree of personal responsibility
* Ability to achieve in a milestone-driven, rapidly changing research environment
* Ability to work collaboratively in a team environment with scientists of different backgrounds and experience levels
* Excellent written and oral communication skills
* Skills in work and time management under project multitasking conditions
* Planning, organization and execution skills

For more info & to apply:

Sunday, January 1, 2012


2012 NIH Budget --- A Suprise Increase!

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – With the signing of a large spending bill late last week, the Obama Administration has enacted a budget for this fiscal year that includes a 1 percent funding increase for the National Institutes of Health.

The budget, which was passed by Congress a week earlier, provides $30.7 billion to NIH for FY 2012, a $300 million increase over funding for 2011. It also includes $576.5 million to fund the new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), as well as $513.8 million to fund the National Human Genome Research Institute.

The arrival of NCATS this year will result in the departure of the National Center for Research Resources, although the programs and initiatives NCRR managed will continue to exist in other institutes, several at NCATS. The push to create a new institute that will focus on advancing translational research projects and moving basic research findings into applied innovations was led and championed primarily by NIH Director Francis Collins, who said in a statement on Friday that the center "marks a major milestone in mobilizing the community effort required to revolutionize the science of translation."

"Patients suffering from debilitating and life-threatening diseases do not have the luxury to wait the 13 years it currently takes to translate new scientific discoveries into treatments that could save or improve the quality of their lives. The entire community must work together to forge a new paradigm, and NCATS aims to catalyze this effort," Collins added.

According to the Office of the Director, NIH currently is conducting a reorganization effort of its preclinical and translational science capabilities and is seeking a director to run the new center. Until a director is named, NCATs will be led by Acting Director Thomas Insel, who currently is director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Acting Deputy Director Kathy Hudson, who is NIH's deputy director for science, outreach, and policy.

The largest program at NCATS will be the Clinical and Translational Science Awards, which fund a national consortium of medical research institutions and will receive $487.8 million of the new institute's budget.

NCATS also will be home to several other programs including the Cures Acceleration Network; components of the Molecular Libraries program, an initiative that provides access to the large-scale screening capacity for identifying new compounds for use as probes to validate new therapeutic targets; the Office of Rare Diseases Research; the Food and Drug Administration – NIH Regulatory Science program, which seeks to accelerate the development of better tools, standards, and approaches for evaluatimg diagnostic and therapeutic products; and the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases initiative, among others.

The funding levels for other NIH agencies in the spending bill include $5.1 billion for the National Cancer Institute; $338.9 million for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering; $4.5 billion for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and $2.4 billion to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The Obama Administration had sought a budget of $32 billion for NIH, and in testimony in May Collins urged Congress to consider NIH's appropriation in light of recent biomedical advances, such as the initial efforts to use genome sequencing in the clinic to treat patients, and to view NIH funding as a way of supporting US jobs, including 488,000 jobs in research and spin-off employment in 2010.

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

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