Posts filed under ‘News’
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>
Researchers at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and collaborators at Georgia Tech have been awarded a $4 million grant to establish the Health and Exposome Research Center: Understanding Lifetime Exposure (HERCULES Center) at Emory University. The four-year grant is the first of it kind awarded in the United States.
The exposome – a relatively new concept — incorporates all of the exposures encountered by humans. Suggested as the environmental equivalent of the human genome, the exposome includes lifetime exposures to environmental pollutants in food, water, physical activity, medications, homes and daily stressors. GRA Eminent Scholar Eberhard Voit at Georgia Tech will head the Systems Biology Core of the HERCULES Center. A key component of the project, the Systems Biology Core will provide expertise in computational approaches used to analyze and integrate the large data sets that exposome research produces. Read more here>
Using genetically engineered mice, GRA Eminent Scholar Lin Mei and colleagues at Georgia Regents University (GRU) found that overexpression of a gene associated with schizophrenia causes classic symptoms of the disorder that are reversed when the gene expression returns to normal.
With elevated levels of the gene neuregulin-1, the mice exhibited schizophrenia-like behavior, becoming hyperactive, unable to remember what they had just learned or to ignore distracting background noise. “This shows that high levels of neuregulin-1 are a cause of schizophrenia, at least in mice, because when you turn them down, the behavior deficit disappears,” said Mei, who directs the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics at the Medical College of Georgia at GRU.
Neuregulin-1, essential for heart development as well as formation of myelin (the insulation around nerves), is among approximately 100 schizophrenia-related genes. Read more here>
The Georgia Research Alliance, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute, Georgia Bio and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia have joined forces to present the second annual Clinical Research in Georgia Conference. To be held December 4, 2013, at the Academy of Medicine in Atlanta, the conference will spotlight innovations that can make clinical trials faster, more efficient and more compliant. The event will also showcase Georgia assets that facilitate effective clinical research initiatives, including:
- diverse research participant populations
- an array of clinical trials expertise and experience
- access to public/private research facilities
- collaboration with skilled project teams
For detailed conference information, see www.georgiaclinicaltrials.com .
A team of researchers at the Emory Vaccine Center have shown that IL-21, an immune regulatory molecule, is essential for long-lasting antibody response against viral infections. According to the study’s authors, the findings highlight how IL-21 could be important in the development of antiviral vaccines, potentially designing future vaccines to incorporate IL-21 directly or to use the ability to stimulate IL-21 as a gauge of vaccine activity.
For the study, mice engineered to lack the gene for the IL-21 receptor were exposed to three different viral infections. The scientists found that, when infected with the three viruses separately, the mice started to produce antibodies, but the antibody levels faded over time.
Since 1996, the Georgia Research Alliance has invested in the development and work of the Emory Vaccine Center, which supports five GRA Eminent Scholars, including Rafi Ahmed, its founding director. Read more here>
Studying a set of computer-generated/artificial proteins and comparing them to natural proteins, GRA Eminent Scholar Jeff Skolnik and collaborator Mu Gao at Georgia Tech have found that there may be no more than about 500 unique protein pocket configurations that serve as binding sites for small molecule pharmaceutical compounds. Their conclusion: drug side effects may be impossible to avoid since the likelihood that a molecule intended for one protein (the drug’s target) will also bind with an unintended target is significant.
“Our study provides a rationalization for why a lot of drugs have significant side effects,” Skolnik, who directs the Georgia Tech Center for the Study of Systems Biology, said. “The idea that a small molecule [drug] could have just one protein target is not supported.”
The researchers also examined the role of physics vs. evolution on protein binding activity. “The basic physics of the system provides the mechanism for molecules to bind to proteins,” Skolnik said. “You don’t need evolution to have a system that works on at least at a low level. This has a lot of implications for the biochemical component of the origins of life.” Read more here>
GRA’s “The Future Files” pilot episode, produced in partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting, has been nominated for five Southeast EMMY® Awards. The nominees are:
- News & Program Specialty- Health/Science - Robert Brienza, Joshua Seftel, Jesse Sweet
- Crafts Achievement Graphic Arts - Jawad Metni
- Crafts Achievement Editor (Animations) – Daniel Sousa
- Crafts Achievement Musical Composition/Arrangement - Fred Story
- Crafts Achievement Photographer - Jesse Sweet
The series premiered in November on all GPB stations across the state. It showcases how top researchers at Georgia universities are addressing some of the most challenging problems facing humankind. The threat of influenza – and the inventive work of Georgia scientists to stop it – are the focus of the nominated pilot episode.
The winners will be announced on Saturday, June 8, 2013.
“The Future Files” is now streaming at gpb.org Watch it now >
The Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine presented its Zoetis Award for Excellence in Research to GRA Distinguished Investigator Don Harn at its annual induction ceremony May 13.
Recruited to UGA in 2009 as part of GRA’s next-generation vaccines initiative, Harn was recognized for his research into schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever, a devastating parasitic disease primarily affecting developing countries. His work in testing novel HIV-1 vaccine candidates and in developing novel therapies for various autoimmune disorders, including psoriasis, autoimmune encephalomyelitis and diabetes, was also citied.
Phi Zeta recognizes and promotes scholarship and research in matters pertaining to the welfare and diseases of animals. The Xi chapter of Phi Zeta was established at the University of Georgia in 1959.
GRA Eminent Scholar David Sholl will become the new chair of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech on July 1, 2013.
Ranked among the nation’s top 10 undergraduate and graduate programs of its kind, the school includes more than 1,000 students and more than 40 faculty in 20 interdisciplinary research centers.
“Our school has a phenomenal group of faculty, students and alumni. I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with all of them,” Sholl said. “Our discipline is in the middle of a renaissance in the U.S., and Georgia Tech is poised to play a key role in technology development and industrial practice as this trend continues.”
Sholl was recruited to Georgia Tech from Carnegie Mellon University as the GRA Eminent Scholar in Energy Sustainability in 2008. Currently, he also holds the Michael E. Tennenbaum Family Chair and serves as associate director of Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute. Read more here>
Amanda Schroeder has joined the Georgia Research Alliance as director of public relations. In this role, she will manage all media, industry and constituent relations. In particular, she will develop brand and message strategy, build GRA’s social media presence and manage event coordination and execution.
“We are excited to have Amanda on the GRA team,” said Mike Cassidy, GRA’s president and CEO. “She has extensive experience working with start-ups and entrepreneurs as well as building out marketing and public relations strategies and programs. With this experience and her deep understanding of our organization, Amanda will help communicate and promote the important role GRA plays in Georgia’s overall economic development.”
Prior to joining GRA, Schroeder served as vice president of marketing for BLiNQ Media, a leading technology and media company providing social engagement advertising solutions to agencies and brands. While there, she was a member of the senior management team that led BLiNQ to become acquired by The Gannett Company in August 2012. With more than 10 years of marketing experience in the private sector, Schroeder also has served as senior marketing manager for Cox Enterprises’ AutoTrader.com and director of global marketing for EyeWonder, LLC, an interactive digital advertising company. At EyeWonder, Schroeder led marketing strategy and operations efforts in the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Australia.
Schroeder earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Georgia State University and an MBA an emphasis on strategy, marketing and business development, from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.