Improving Food Safety through DNA

DNA mapping may help reduce outbreaks of salmonella and listeria

DNA mapping may help reduce outbreaks of salmonella and listeria

Agilent is helping to create a genomic database of 100,000 types of common foodborne pathogens.  The initiative could reduce food-related illnesses and deaths, trace food poisoning outbreaks more quickly, and even detect food fraud by marketers.

The Genome Trakr Network is a collaboration between Agilent, the University of California, Davis, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The technology maps the entire DNA sequence of a microbe, enabling scientists to distinguish one strain from another.  To date, more than 9,900 Salmonella isolates and 2,600 Listeria isolates have been sequenced.  An open-source database will be available online at no charge for researchers and public health officials through the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, foodborne diseases affect one in six Americans every year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.  In a recent study by Oceana, one third of seafood samples sold in American from around the world were mislabeled.  Only seven out of 120 red snapper samples were honestly labeled; while 84 percent of white tuna samples were actually escolar, which can cause digestive issues.

Agilent is one of the world’s leading providers of solutions for ensuring food safety and food authenticity.

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Agilent Launches Innovative Molecular Cloning Kit

SureVector is part of Agilent’s synthetic biology product line

SureVector is part of Agilent’s synthetic biology product line

Agilent is one of the few companies that offer a set of products that address the entire workflow for molecular and synthetic biology.

Agilent has just introduced SureVector, the world’s first modular vector kit for researchers involved in molecular cloning and DNA assembly.  “Vectors” are small DNA molecules within cells that can replicate independently.

SureVector provides a synthetic biology-based approach to creating vectors from small fragments of DNA that include the features to make these vectors functional in a variety of cell types.

“Labs will be able to design, create and use a new custom vector in less than a day, rather than the two weeks it often takes today,” says Agilent’s Jacob Thaysen.

“SureVector enables biologists to quickly, efficiently and reliably construct customized vectors from standard components.  It will change the way people think about and do molecular cloning.”

This new product is part of Agilent’s cutting-edge synthetic biology product line, which includes both the highest-fidelity DNA synthesis platform and advanced measurement instruments such as mass spectrometry systems.

For Research Use only.  Not for use in Diagnostic Procedures.

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An Alarming Challenge for Young Scientists

Many young  scientists are leaving American academic research

Many young scientists are leaving American academic research

Young researchers in the U.S. are increasingly prevented from starting their own laboratories, pursuing their own research or establishing a career in science.  As a result, many young scientists are leaving American academic research and going to other industries or countries.

Eleven years ago, the National Academy of Sciences reported a disturbing trend: the median age when American PhDs received their first research grant was rising.  In other words, young researchers had to wait longer before they could begin to do independent research.

This was especially troubling given the increasing importance of biomedical research, which constantly requires new ideas and approaches.  “The time for action is now,” the NAS concluded.  “Every year of delay in implementing change affects tens of thousands of scientists already pursuing biomedical careers and an untold number of those who might have pursued such a career.”

But over the past decade, the situation has only gotten worse, says a recent study by Johns Hopkins University.  In 1980, a U.S. medical researcher received his or her first R01 grant at the average age of 38.  (An R01 is the leading research grant from the National Institutes of Health.)  Today, the average age is 45.

Similarly, more than twice as many R01s are awarded to researchers older than 65 than to researchers younger than 36.

At the same time, other countries are increasing their investments in science education.  Singapore, for example, awards $1 million each to its top 1,000 science students.

“An enduring solution to this problem will require enduring attention from a range of stakeholders,” says Johns Hopkins’ Ronald Daniels in the latest report, “including the Congress, the NIH and other federal agencies, institutional sponsors, and private industry.

“Our next generation of scientists, and indeed our next generation of science, demands nothing less.”

Agilent promotes and encourages academic research, recognizing its importance to the world.  The company has several programs that specifically support young scientists.

The Agilent New Professor Program provides start-up support for newly appointed professors in numerous regions around the world.  The program includes free extended warranties, discounts and free teaching tools.

The Agilent Early Career Professor Award provides unrestricted research awards to leading professors early in their careers.  The 2015 award will focus on “contribution to the understanding and use of CRISPR/Cas or other RNA-based technologies for genome editing, control and other applications.”  Nominations are currently being accepted through April 24, 2015.

“In addition to programs that support faculty early in their careers, Agilent maintains a broad portfolio of ongoing research collaborations,” says Agilent’s Jack Wenstrand.  “These are open to faculty of all career stages.

“University research programs headed by senior principal investigators frequently provide significant support to junior faculty.  And they provide opportunities for Agilent to meet and work with the next generation of academic leaders.”

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