Biozona Weekly: Arizona’s computing-genomics hub; ASU links hormone to memory loss; biofuels research in Arizona

November 10, 2011

By hammersmith

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IO awarded cloud-computing contract
11/9/2011 | Arizona Republic | Betty Beard

Phoenix data center company IO has been awarded a contract to provide cloud-computing services for what is being billed as the largest health-care data center in the world. The contract, for an undisclosed amount of money, was awarded with the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced health, NantWorks LLC and National LambdaRail, all in Phoenix.

Fulton gives $2.5M gift for Lou Gehrig’s disease research
11/8/2011 | Phoenix Business Journal | Patrick O’Grady

Local home builder Ira Fulton has donated $2.5 million to the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center    in Phoenix to create a clinic devoted to research and treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The ALS and Neuromuscular Disorder Clinic and accompanying research center will be led by Robert Browser, one of the world’s top ALS scientists. The new lab will be the cornerstone of the comprehensive ALS center, which will be adjacent to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center on the St. Joseph’s campus.

Making Strides Toward $1K Genome, ASU Team Aims for Nanopore Sequencing Device by 2015
11/8/2011 | GenomeWeb – In Sequence | Monica Heger

Under the National Human Genome Research Institute “$1,000 Genome” program, Stuart Lindsay’s group at Arizona State University has made significant strides in nanopore sequencing and expects to have a prototype by the end of 2012 and a demonstration device by 2015. Lindsay’s group in August received a $4.1 million, four-year NHGRI grant to support further development of the technology, one of nine grants totaling $14.5 million that the agency awarded in the latest round of funding under the $1,000 Genome program.

UA researchers fine-tune crops for biofuels
11/06/2011 | Green Valley News | Paul M. Ingram

Donald Slack and fellow UA researchers are trying to make ethanol from sweet sorghum at the Red Rock Agricultural Center about 35 miles north of Tucson. Researchers and technicians started harvesting in early October — the culmination of six years of research and 120 days of plant growth. Like similar efforts with algae and switchgrass, this research project is taking advantage of Arizona’s hot, sunny weather to drive a new economic boom in the desert and help meet America’s energy needs.

Rent-a-tech: AZ Core Labs offers equipment, expertise
11/6/2011 | Arizona Daily Sun | Joe Ferguson

The long road from a back-of-the-napkin sketch to a production-ready prototype is littered with expensive decisions that often require even the most well-funded companies to choose between various pieces of hardware that they may only use once and only for a few months. AZ Core Labs, a division of the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, has been created to give businesses another option: Rent the technology as well as the technicians.

Student led study links birth control hormone to memory loss
11/01/2011 | State Press | Brennan Smith

A student-directed ASU study conducted on the birth-control shot Depo Provera suggests that the shot may be linked to long-term memory loss. The two-part study, led by psychology graduate student Blair Braden and psychology professor Heather Bimonte-Nelson, demonstrated the link between medroxyprogesterone acetate and memory impairment in rodents.  Part one of the study was published in January 2010, and part two was published May 2011.

Arizona universities drive innovation in algae-biofuels production
10/26/2011 | Cronkite News | Victoria Pelham

Each morning at the University of Arizona’s Agriculture Experiment Station, pumps push water into shallow basins where the sun can better warm algae growing in it. Each night, the water returns to a canal where the limited surface area helps retain heat. The production system is intended to maintain the right temperatures for cultivating algae containing oil used to produce biofuels. Randy Ryan, a UA researcher who developed the process with a partner, said this is an example of universities helping make algae a commercial viable crop for Arizona.

Farming for Energy Starts to Gain Ground
10/26/2011 | New York Times | Sonya Kolesnkov-Jessop

There are two ways to farm algae for biofuel, each with advantages and drawbacks. A closed system, top, allows for more intensive production. An open system, above, is less costly to build and run. Dan Simon, chief executive of Arizona-based Heliae, said the industry’s two challenges were to reduce capital expenditures and increase production rates, to make it attractive to investors.

A Conversation With Bruce Rittmann, Sustainability Scientist
10/25/2011 | The Atlantic | Nicholas Jackson

Bruce Rittmann is working as the director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, and trying to find replacements for the fossil fuels we’re quickly running out of. A leader in managing microbial communities (more on that later), Rittmann is also working to treat water and clean up pollution.