The Ray C. Anderson Foundation has awarded grants in the first two quarters of 2013 totaling more than $600,000 in support of environmental initiatives and sustainability research. The grants are awarded and paid in keeping with the organization’s desire to advance the legacy of Ray C. Anderson (1934-2011), beloved founder and chairman of Interface, Inc. and globally recognized “pioneer for the environment.”
In February 2013, the Foundation issued a public request for proposals (RFP) to environmental nonprofit organizations, and an invitation only RFP was sent to more than 70 colleges and universities, mainly within the Southeast.
GRA along with Clark Atlanta University, Emory University, Georgia State University, and Georgia Tech have all received support this year.
“The response was overwhelming,” said John Lanier, the Foundation’s Director. “I think it opened our eyes to just how many organizations are doing outstanding work across the country. We certainly saw a great need in our own region for funding, and going forward we hope to advance the cause of sustainability in our corner of the world in particular.”
Center for Behavioral Neuroscience Receives $3.4M Grant to Study How Brain Expresses Positive Emotions
The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, led by Georgia State University, has received a $3.4 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation (www.templeton.org) to investigate the neurobiology behind the evolution of positive emotions and prosocial behaviors, such as empathy, compassion and cooperation. Such insight is fundamental to understanding how complex human emotions and social interactions are expressed.
“This funding from the Templeton Foundation represents one of the largest single investments into research on how the human brain evolved the ability to express these positive attributes and emotions,” said Dr. Elliott Albers, director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN), a consortium of scientists from seven Atlanta higher education institutions.
The research will build on advances that have been made in the understanding of the neural basis of positive emotions and will employ state-of-the-art new technologies to investigate the neural mechanisms responsible for prosocial capabilities in the human brain.
“This funding will support the longstanding inter-institutional, multidisciplinary research program of the CBN,” said Michael Cassidy, president of the Georgia Research Alliance, “and the ability to obtain such funding is indicative of the strength of Georgia research universities in the area of brain research.”
The project will be a collaborative endeavor, involving a team of researchers from Georgia State, Emory University, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Zoo Atlanta. The project’s primary goal will be to determine if human forms of prosocial emotion and behavior, which are controlled by neural circuits in the brain, are unique to humans or are present in other nonhuman primates.
By comparing the structure and function of the neural mechanisms regulating prosocial behavior in human and nonhuman primates, it will be possible to define the nature and evolutionary development of characteristics such as empathy, compassion and cooperation.
The research team will work to determine if oxytocin, a chemical signal in the brain, acts uniquely within the human brain to aid human prosocial emotion and behavior or if it acts similarly in nonhuman primates as well.
The funding will support an exhibit at Zoo Atlanta designed to develop wider public awareness of neuroscience research. The interactive exhibit will include educational activities that will allow zoo visitors to learn more about emotional and behavioral similarities and differences between humans and nonhuman primates.
“We are excited about the opportunity to continue our longstanding relationship with CBN scientists to bring the most recent discoveries about the brain and behavior to zoo visitors,” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta.
The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience was established in 1999 with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Georgia Research Alliance.
Inc. Magazine has released its annual ranking of the fastest- growing companies in the nation. The Inc. 500|5000 ranks companies by overall revenue growth over a three-year period. This year, two GRA Venture companies have made the list: Innovolt (#38) and Reach Health (#3099).
Innovolt’s Intelligent Asset Management (IAM) platform combines patented protection technology with comprehensive monitoring and analytics software to help companies safeguard and optimize the performance, productivity, and usable life of the electronics that power today’s digital world.
REACH Health technology powers many of the nation’s largest, fastest growing and most successful telemedicine networks, helping health systems and accountable care organizations achieve measurable improvements in their clinical, operational and financial performance.
On July 10 in Washington D.C., the Georgia Research Alliance and the Georgia Department of Economic Development honored U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss at the “Impact of Discovery” event highlighting breakthroughs and start-ups emerging from Georgia’s research universities. Chambliss was given the first “Legacy Award” for his continued support of the state’s research universities. Members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, leaders and board members of GRA, the Department of Economic Development and the presidents of Georgia’s major research universities were also in attendance.
“I am honored to receive this award, but we should also be honoring all the men and women in the room here tonight. It doesn’t matter if it is medical, defense, or agriculture: Research is the heart and soul of our economy. The research we are doing today may not pay off in a year or two years, but ensures that 20 years from now the United States of America remains the greatest nation in the world.
“GRA and the Department of Economic Development have fostered relationships between our top-rated research universities, governments, and private organizations, which allow us not to just coexist, but to be the envy of the world when it comes to research.
“You look around the room tonight and it is full of Democrats and Republicans, because this is a bipartisan issue everyone can truly rally around. It’s another reason why Georgia is the model for every other state when it comes to public-private research partnerships.
“This makes me very proud not only as a Georgian, but as representative of Georgia to the United States Senate.”
Click here to see more photos from the event >
Since 2003, nearly 425,000 newborns have been screened as part of an international initiative to determine how genetics and environment cause type 1 diabetes. From these, some 9,000 children identified as at-risk for the disease have been followed in a study titled “The Environmental Determinates of Diabetes in the Young” — or TEDDY — to enable scientists to understand which genetic mutations correlate with progression or lack of progression of the disease.
GRA Eminent Scholar Jin-Xiong She at Georgia Regents University leads the TEDDY project in Georgia and Florida and has received a $10 million dollar National Institutes of Health grant to continue the study for another 5 years. TEDDY has clinical centers in Colorado, Washington, Finland, Sweden and Germany as well.
“We are using the information we collect to correlate the progression or lack of progression of the disease with different molecular markers and environmental triggers to understand all the factors contributing to the development of type 1 diabetes as well as what factors can provide protection from disease progression,” She said. “We are watching it unfold at all levels. We are finding the real players. This is going to allow us to predict better which children will develop type 1 diabetes, and, ultimately, what we can do to prevent or better manage this disease.”
The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) are pleased to announce that they have received industry recognition for their pilot program, “The Future Files – Inventing Tomorrow in Georgia Today.” Showcasing how top researchers at Georgia universities are addressing some of the most challenging problems facing humankind, “The Future Files” pilot first aired in November 2012 highlighting the progress that Georgia scientists have made in battling influenza.
Click here to see the press release.
“The Future Files” is now streaming at gpb.org. Watch it now >
After ten years since its formation, GRA’s VentureLab has shown success and opportunities to enhance its program. Recently discussed at the June 3 board meeting, GRA plans to release some new developments for its commercialization program.
Audit: Public-Private VC has good record
June 7, 2013
Atlanta Business Chronicle Print Edition
Maria Saporta, Contributing Writer
After launching its venture capital effort — VentureLab — a decade ago, the Georgia Research Alliance and the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts have concluded that the track record is quite good.
About 71 percent of the companies that have participated in GRA’s VentureLab since 2002 are still doing business in Georgia, while 29 percent are inactive. The survival rate of 133 VentureLab companies compares favorably to the survival rate of startup companies nationally, according to the Georgia Department of Audits.
As of September 2012, 87 percent of VentureLab companies survived to a second year compared with 67 percent … Read full Atlanta Business Chronicle article>