A Medical Device Daily

SRA International (Fairfax, Virginia), provider of information technology (IT) services and solutions to federal government organizations, said that it has been awarded a task order to assist the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in managing and monitoring the development, implementation, operation, maintenance, technical support, and enhancement of the expanded Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS).

The task order, awarded under the Chief Information Officer Solutions and Partners 2 Innovations (CIO-SP2i) contract, has an estimated value of $59.9 million over five years if all options are exercised.

Since 1996, SRA has provided program management and operations support to FPLS, which is managed by the DHHS Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). Data in the FPLS repository are used by state and local child support agencies to locate non-custodial parents who are delinquent in child care payments.

The data also are used by authorized federal agencies to assist in fraud prevention and the recoupment of erroneous payments. In 2003, FPLS systems helped to collect more than $20 billion in child support payments and contributed to the Department of Education's collection of more than $1.14 billion on defaulted education loans and grant overpayments.

Under this new contract, the SRA team will provide a broad range of program management, technical monitoring, and technical and operational support for the FPLS program.

SRA President and CEO Renny DiPentima said, “Over the past nine years, we have developed a deep understanding of the complex issues facing the FPLS. We are pleased to be part of a program that benefits the nation and its children.“

Vala Sciences (La Jolla, California) reported that it has established itself as a provider of cell image-based reagents and analysis software tools to academic, biotech and pharmaceutical scientists.

Vala reports that it has obtained $3.5 million in grants and angel investments, including two National Institutes of Health (NIH; Bethesda, Maryland) Small Business Innovation Research grants: one for assay development, the other for cell image-based software analysis. The company also has obtained funding from the California Technology Investment Partnership Program (CALTIP) and private individual investors.

Vala was founded in 2004 to develop cell imaging analysis tools and assays that enable information-rich, high-throughput measurements for obtaining new insights into cell function and screening for new pharmaceutical agents. Vala said that, since March 2004, it has been developing cell image-based reagent systems and software programs enabling the high throughput, quantitative analysis of images generated on any fluorescence microscope or high throughput cellular imaging system.

Vala said its technology converts labor-intensive observations of cell images into measurements delivered in minutes. Its core scientific and engineering team hails from Q3DM (San Diego), a developer of high throughput image analysis instrumentation and software that was acquired by Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, California) in December 2003.

Jeffrey Price, PhD, founder, chairman and CEO of Vala, said, “We founded Vala Sciences to automate what now takes researchers weeks of time to accomplish. We took our experience developing the Q3DM microscopy system and software and are now applying that knowledge to create a platform-independent software suite that can quickly and quantitatively analyze one or thousands of microscopy images per experiment.“

Vala reports having collaborations with the Chemical Genomics Research Consortium of the Gulf Coast Consortia and with The Burnham Institute (La Jolla, California) to develop a variety of assays in several areas of research.