Proteomics Pioneers to Leave Government

Two federal scientists who blazed a new path in proteomics, then drew censure from Congress for their consulting deals, are leaving the government for academia. Lance Liotta of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Emanuel Petricoin of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon head a new center at nearby George Mason University (GMU).

A few years ago, Liotta and Petricoin developed a new method for detecting cancer by analyzing patterns of proteins found in blood. The method drew widespread attention (Science, 11 April 2003, 236) and led to a new NCI-FDA clinical proteomics program, although questions have recently been raised about its accuracy.

Meanwhile, Liotta and Petricoin were called before a Congressional committee last May because they had consulted for a competitor to a firm they were working with through an NCI collaborative agreement (Science, 28 May 2004, p. 1222). The case was among several possible ethics problems involving National Institutes of Health scientists that led NIH director Elias Zerhouni to issue a blanket ban on all consulting by NIH staff last month (ScienceNOW 1 February, 2005).

According to an announcement today by GMU, Petricoin and Liotta will join the molecular medicine department at the university, a new and fast-growing institution in northern Virginia. Petricoin starts on 1 April, and Liotta begins on 15 May. Neither Liotta nor Petricoin were available for comment. Liotta told NCI colleagues in a 7 March email that he has "been greatly privileged" to work at NIH, but "could not pass up the exciting opportunity offered by GMU," where he and Petricoin will co-direct a new center for proteomics and molecular medicine.

Related site
NCI/FDA Clinical Proteomics Program