PHARMACY

SBRI receives $30.6 million contract; Amgen’s Randy Hassler to head finance, operations

BY Drew Buono

SEATTLE The Seattle Biomedical Research Institute has been awarded a $30.6 million federal contract by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to create a new infectious disease research center, according to published reports.

The new center, the Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease, will be housed at SBRI and operated through partnerships with three other local research entities, including the University of Washington. Most of the new contract will be spent on personnel, materials for experiments and some equipment.

The new center’s goal will be determining the structure of proteins in deadly diseases and then make its findings available to the “worldwide scientific community.” Information published by the new center could serve as a blueprint for new vaccines, drugs and diagnostics.

The institute also announced the hiring of former Amgen vice president Randy Hassler as its new vice president of finance and operations. Hassler replaces former chief operating officer Jim Gore who was asked to resign in May over ineffective leadership. Hassler will oversee facilities, information technology, finance and human resources for SBRI when he starts work on Jan. 7.

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LG debuts home health-monitoring in a cell phone

BY Drew Buono

CALGARY, Canada The Home Health Monitoring Solution is a new handheld device developed by LG Electronics allows patients with chronic illnesses to send such information as their pulse, blood pressure and glucose levels to their physician wirelessly, according to published reports.

The goal is eventually to add the technology to cellphones, the same way photography and music capabilities have been added. The product is designed to help patients with illnesses that need constant monitoring. It could also be useful for seniors with limited mobility and for patients who live in rural areas. By constantly keeping track of someone’s medical data it would provide a greater help to the patient and physician monitoring the illness.

The first stage of tests for the three-year project will begin next month. It will involve monitoring blood pressure, pulse and temperature. Down the road, glucose levels and other blood chemistry markers will be added as features.

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Senate votes to extend current SCHIP legislation through March 2009

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill unanimously that will extend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program through March 2009, according to reports. The House of Representatives plans to look at the issue before the end of the year.

This extension will end a battle for now with President Bush, who had twice vetoed the bill, including the most recent veto last week. Bush vetoed the program the second time because he felt the second version was too similar to the first and would cost too much money as well as shift children from the private marketplace to government run programs.

The bill also would stop a scheduled 10 percent pay cut for Medicare doctors for six months and provide a 0.5 percent increase instead. The health legislation costs about $6 billion, but was paid for by savings in other health programs.

The program currently covers about 6.6 million poor children.

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