Short items

  • Anders Nordstr?m has become acting director general of the World Health Organization following the sudden death of Lee Jong-wook, WHO director general since 2003. Lee, a national of the Republic of Korea, had worked for WHO for 23 years, at country and regional levels, and at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. 
  • The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) is to authorise the marketing of a transgenic anti-thrombosis  drug, ATryn. The drug, from Genzyme Europe, contains a recombinant-DNA human anti-clotting blood protein, antithrombin alfa, and is recommended for use in deep-vein thrombosis and related conditions. Approval was originally rejected in February 2006, but further expert advice led EMEA to conclude that the benefits of ATryn outweigh risks. 
  • Bruce Merrifield, biochemist and winner of the Nobel prize in chemistry, 1984, has died aged 84. Merrifield spent most of his career at Rockefeller University, New York, US, where he worked on peptide and protein chemistry. Merrifield’s solid-phase peptide synthesis  method for making peptides and proteins was said to be simple but ingenious, and proved to be important in the development of new drugs and in gene technology. 
  • The Low Carbon and Fuel Cells Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) has been formally launched by the government chief scientific adviser, Sir David King. The KTN plans to provide information and events to support the UK low carbon and fuel cell industries. 
  • The first synchrotron light has been observed at the newly-built Diamond light source, Harwell, UK. In early May, the first beam of electrons completed a full orbit of the 561.6m storage ring, 400 turns were achieved soon after, followed by a stored beam. Diamond’s accelerator team subsequently observed the first synchrotron light. Diamond is due to open in January 2007.