Appeals are usually heard by a panel of three judges selected at random from the court. The court has agreed to also allow United States (represented by the Justice Department) to participate in the oral arguments and to extend the time allowed for each side to 30 minutes.
A motion was filed asking the chief judge to recuse himself if he is selected to hear this case. At two conferences last year, he is reported to have interacted with presenters who have been involved with the case being appealed and reportedly made public comments suggesting disagreement with the way the case was decided. www.patentlyo.com/recusalmotion.pdf
I expect that the court will issue their opinion in a few months. I think the court would then agree to a petition to rehear this case before the full court.
A panel of three judges has been assigned to decide the gene patent appeal. Two of the judges come to this biotechnology case with a post-graduate technical education.
Circuit Judge Alan D. Lourie "received his Bachelor's degree from Harvard University (1956), his Master's degree in organic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin (1958), and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania (1965)."
Circuit Judge Kimberly A. Moore "received her B.S.E.E. in 1990, M.S. in 1991, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided that gene patents are valid. All three judges on the panel wrote separate opinions. But, none of these judges agreed with the lower court's finding that isolated genes are products of nature that cannot be patented.
This case was heard by a panel that included only three of the court's judges. I expect that the ACLU will now ask to argue this case in front of all of the court's judges [except for any that recuse themselves].