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ATLANTA – (Sept. 15) – What’s in a name? When it comes to telling the full story of the missions of its 35 colleges and universities, plenty, according to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG). The board approved today a request from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) to change its name to Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU).
“The new name more accurately reflects and encompasses the broad and growing health sciences teaching and research mission we have, not just in Augusta, but statewide,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr.
Board Chair Willis Potts said, “Georgia Health Sciences University truly indicates the institution’s status as a comprehensive health sciences university that benefits the citizens of this state and nation as a whole and the board’s approval is a testament to our commitment to its mission.”
The name change will take effect February 1, 2011.
The regents’ action today, while changing the name of the broader institution, will allow MCG President Ricardo Azziz to retain the historic name Medical College of Georgia for the university’s School of Medicine. MCG’s other four schools will change their designations to colleges.
“Georgia Health Sciences University better defines our institution as what it is – a comprehensive health sciences university and a modern academic health center,” said Azziz. “In this competitive world of rankings and reputation, we believe the new change will allow us to achieve the national prominence and recognition that this university community so richly deserves.”
The name change will not affect the MCG Health System or MCG Health. Both entities will retain their names, a reflection of their strong connection to the university’s medical school.
The board’s action today follows three independent studies conducted since 2007, all of which supported the renaming. Earlier this year, the possibility of a name change resurfaced during a MCG Health System retreat. Azziz and other MCG officials have engaged the university’s many constituent groups, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, corporate and community leaders, in the dialogue leading up to today’s board approval.
Founded in 1828 as the Medical Academy of Georgia, the university has been renamed five times in its 182-year history. It was first named Medical College of Georgia in 1833 and has been called MCG continuously since 1950.
A website featuring frequently asked questions is available at: http://name.mcg.edu
In 2001 when University of Georgia graduate student James Atwood began working with professors Ron Orlando and Rick Tarleton on a research project, he had no inkling that just eight years later he would be the General Manager of U.S. operations for an Australian biotech company.
The project focused on unraveling the proteomics of Chagas, a tropical parasitic disease that can cause serious stomach and heart problems. “The research generated lots of data, but we didn’t know what to do with it,” said Atwood. The solution: hiring computer professional Brent Weatherly, who helped to develop software to analyze the data. This led to a publication in 2005 in Science and a starring role at the publisher’s 100th anniversary news conference.
What followed was a suggestion from the UGA technology transfer office to form a company to refine and market the software. With the agreement of Dr. Orlando and Dr. Tarleton, and the expert advice of Margaret Wagner Dahl, director of the Georgia Research Alliance VentureLab program at UGA, BioInquire was formed.
“With Phase Ia and Phase Ib VentureLab grants totaling $50,000, we were able to develop a prototype and do some market research,” said Atwood. “Phase II grants allowed us to go from prototype to marketing and selling our product, ProteoIQ software, which catalogues, analyzes and mines the products of mass spectrometric analysis”
The company’s first sale was to a researcher at the University of North Carolina, and 75% of its market remains academic researchers.
Then, in 2009, BioInquire caught the eye of NuSep, an Australian bioseparations products company. “NuSep markets the devices to separate proteins; we have the software to analyze the data,” said Atwood. In December that year, NuSep signed a letter of intent to acquire BioInquire for more than $3 million in three phases over the next 18 months. “We strongly believe that sales for the ProteomeSep MF10 [bioseparations instrument] will be boosted by providing a complete solution to our mass spectrometry customers,” said NuSep Managing Director and CEO Hari Nair.
The rest of the good news: NuSep intends to grow operations in Athens, has established its U.S. headquarters in Lawrenceville and has named Atwood its General Manager.
“The whole process has changed my life – and those of many of us involved with BioInquire. GRA VentureLab put us on the fast track. They wanted us to succeed,” Atwood said.