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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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July 9, 2005

Summer Hours

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Posted by Derek

Just wanted to let everyone know that posting will be light to nonexistent this week. I'll pop up if something big happens, but otherwise I'm going to be taking it easy for a few days. The regular schedule of fist-waving and table-pounding will resume a week from Monday, though, never fear.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


1. Shawn on July 13, 2005 8:18 PM writes...

We'll be up in toes to get this back to a fist-waving-table-pounding session. :)

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2. Ann Kellett on July 17, 2005 2:19 PM writes...

This is big:

Research grant to fund gene institute
Lexicon-A&M center will create new jobs, house stem-cell library
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Gov. Rick Perry on Saturday announced a $50 million state grant for the creation of the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, a public-private partnership expected to create 5,000 new jobs over the next decade and make Texas the epicenter of biotechnology.

The Woodlands-based Lexicon Genetics — one of the state's largest biotechnology companies — and the Texas A&M University System will partner in forming the nonprofit institute, a project that's been in the making for nearly two years.
The institute's mission is to pioneer breakthroughs that will help prevent and cure diseases such as diabetes, cancer, obesity and Alzheimer's. The discoveries will be made through mouse genome research using Lexicon's patent technology called "gene knockout."
Ninety-nine percent of human genes have a counterpart in a mouse's gene, making it an almost-perfect model to interpret the human genome, said Arthur Sands, co-founder and president of Lexicon.
Gene knockout is a process in which an embryonic stem-cell line is created with a specific gene deleted. Thus, a gene's function can be determined by virtue of its absence.
The grant is the largest single expenditure from the $295 million Texas Enterprise Fund, set up by the state to spur economic growth. It is allocated at the governor's discretion.
''It was a wise investment for the taxpayers because the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine will leverage the talents and resources of public and private sectors to yield tremendous benefits for the entire state," Perry told a crowd of more than 100 people at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology at Texas A&M University Health Science Center in Houston.
Besides the jobs it anticipates generating, the institute is expected to create spinoff biotech companies, pull business from other states and attract venture capital and grant funding to Texas, he said.
About a third of the new jobs created by the institute will be associated with Lexicon and two-thirds will be associated with Texas A&M and its spinoff companies, said Phil Wilson, Perry's deputy chief of staff.
A major highlight of the institute will be its OmniBank library of 350,000 "knockout" mouse embryonic stem-cell lines that will be kept at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology. A duplicate set will be kept at Texas A&M in College Station. The library will be the world's largest OmniBank library, officials said.

New gene libraries
Lexicon, which has its own library of 270,000 mouse embryonic stem-cell lines, will create the library using "gene-trapping" technology.

The stem-cell lines at the new library and at Lexicon's library will be available to researchers nationwide to explore new drug therapies, said Richard Finnell, director of IBT and interim director of the library.
Lexicon will receive $35 million of the grant to establish the new library, and Texas A&M will get the remaining $15 million to retrofit space at IBT for a library and to construct a new building for the library in College Station.
Lexicon Genetics was co-founded in 1995 at Baylor College of Medicine by Allan Bradley, a professor of human and molecular genetics, and Sands, a postdoctoral candidate in his lab. Bradley left Lexicon Genetics in 2000 to direct the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, the largest European contributor to the Human Genome Project, leaving Sands to run the company.
The company, which focuses on developing new drugs for human diseases, has grown substantially since going public in 2000, going from 125 employees to 730 employees.
The company has studied the function of 2,000 genes using its knockout technology and has harvested 60 drug discoveries in six areas: obesity, diabetes, oncology, immunology, ophthalmology, and cardiology.
''If we genetically block the function of a gene, it means the potential to model how all potential drugs work," said Sands during a preview presentation Friday at Lexicon.
The inclusion of A&M in the initiative was a surprise because the public university has little expertise in working with genetically engineered mice, whereas Baylor College of Medicine is a world leader.
Baylor keeps more than 250,000 genetically engineered mice, many created with technology developed by the college, in a facility designed to provide the kind of care required for research. Those mice represent hundreds of disease models — mice in which human disease genes are inserted so scientists can study the development of health problems.
A&M's significant work with genomics was its assistance to Baylor in sequencing the genetic code of the cow. A&M did analysis to increase beef and milk production and improve animal health.

'The next step'
Sands said Texas A&M was invited to participate in the initiative because it is a leader in understanding the function of not only human physiology but also animal physiology.

''The next phase of the Human Genome Project is really focused on the physiology controlled by each gene," he said. ''We studied our potential partners in the state and identified Texas A&M as being in a prime position to take the next step in the human genome."
He said Baylor's strength is in sequencing the human genome, the exploratory phase of human genome project. He said the next phase of the project is defining the function of genes.
The institute, with its tools and technology, is in a position to be the pioneer in a new frontier of the human genome, accelerating the pace of medical discoveries, he said.
''The goal is to create a knockout for every gene and be the leader in that endeavor," Sands said. "That will create the value of economic development and transform health care to another level."
Texas A&M Chancellor Robert McTeer said the partnership will make Texas a national and international player in biotechnology and praised Perry for recognizing the state's potential.
Chronicle reporter Todd Ackerman contributed to this story.

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