Archive for November, 2010

Georgia’s Top Ten Medical Innovations of 2010

“Georgia is a source of significant medical innovation,” according to Lee Herron, VP of Commercialization for the Georgia Research Alliance. “Not surprisingly, much of it grows out of university or academic medical centers.” 

Speaking at the Spectrum of Technology Symposium in Rome, GA yesterday, Dr. Herron identified his assessment of the top 10 medical innovations in Georgia in 2010.  They are (no particular order):

#1        Implanted wireless cardiac device for monitoring heart failure — from CardioMems, a company based on technology developed at Georgia Tech

#2        First therapeutic cancer vaccine approved for use by the FDA – from Dendreon, which has located one of its three manufacturing facilities in Georgia

#3        Microneedle technology for vaccine delivery – based on a collaboration between Georgia Tech and Emory

#4        New diagnostic tests for improved diagnosis of congenital disorders; condense the number blood samples and time formerly needed for diagnosis, a key platform for the future of predictive health – from the Emory University Genetics Laboratory

#5        First U.S. stem cell clinical trials:  a) potential breakthrough treatment for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) at Emory in January 2010 and b) repair of spinal cord at Shepherd Center in October 2010

#6        Advances in telehealth diagnosis and monitoring of stroke patients – from REACH Call, a company that grew out of the Medical College of Georgia technology

#7        Launch of clinical trial of potential therapeutic vaccine for HIV – from GeoVax Labs, based on technology from the Emory Vaccine Center

#8        Improved treatment for stroke patients with antibiotic minocycline – based on studies at the Medical College of Georgia

#9        Potentially highly accurate diagnostic test for ovarian cancer; initial studies of new blood test identified disease in 100% of patients; validation and clinical trials to follow  – from Ovarian Cancer Institute/Georgia Tech

#10     SpectroPen to assist surgeons in identifying tumor margins during surgery; based on fluorescent dyes and light from gold nanoparticles – from the Emory/Georgia Tech NIH Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence

November 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

New research center to study effects of radiation during space travel

NASA has awarded $7.6 million to a new joint Emory-Medical College of Georgia center to study how high energy charged particles (a component of radiation) may induce lung cancer.

Ya Wang, professor of radiation oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Center, will direct the NASA Specialized Center of Research with Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Bill Dynan at Medical College of Georgia serving as associate director.

The information generated by the project is expected to be critical for estimating the risks and establishing countermeasures for cancers associated with long term space travel as well as providing new insights into radiation-caused cancers found on earth.

According to Dr. Dynan, the leading-edge nanomedicine tools at Georgia’s research universities, which allow real-time visualization of particle radiation, were a distinguishing feature in winning the center.

November 10, 2010 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

GRA VentureLab shines at SEBIO Investor Forum

GRA VentureLab was front and center at the 2010 SEBIO Investors Forum in Atlanta, November 3-5.

NRG Biotechnology, which became a GRA VentureLab project earlier this year, was the winner of Southeast BIO’s “BIO/Plan Competition.”  

Built on technology developed in the laboratory of Dr. Byron Ford at Morehouse School of Medicine, NRG Biotechnology is exploring the therapeutic and market dimensions of a protein that has shown potential as a solution for the devastating inflammation associated with neurological attacks including stroke, traumatic brain injury and exposure to neurotoxins.

The competition, sponsored by Southeast BIO, is a year-long program to foster new, venture-attractive life sciences companies based in the Southeast.  Three of the four finalists this year are GRA VentureLab investments.  Joining NRG Biotechnology in the final four were Spectropath Medical and Reactive Diagnostics (RDI).  Spectropath, part of GRA VentureLab at Emory University, is developing technology to visually assess the presence of malignant tissue; RDI, drawing on technology developed at Georgia Tech, is commercializing detection probes for use in research and clinical settings.

Also recognized were two VentureLab companies:  InVasc, winner of the SEBIO Best Initial Financing Award, and NeurOp, which participated in the early stage company event.  InVasc, spun out of Emory University, is developing drugs to reduce multiple risk factors of the cardiovascular system.  NeurOp also got its start in the laboratories of Emory University; the company is developing medicines for the treatment of central nervous system disorders.   

GRA VentureLab is the Georgia Research Alliance program that works with an array of research universities to commercialize promising technologies developed in their laboratories.

“We congratulate all of the companies presenting at the SEBIO Investor Forum,” said C. Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance.  “The range and potential of the lifesaving technologies these companies are developing is moving the Southeast to the forefront of the biotechnology industry.”

November 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm 1 comment

Bernie Marcus cites collaboration as key to recruiting Marcus Autism Center’s new chief

For the past 20 years, Bernie and Billi Marcus have had a commitment to improving the lives of children with autism.  Last week, Marcus, speaking at the Georgia Life Sciences Summit, praised the collaborative efforts of many that brought one of the world’s leading researchers and practioners in autism spectrum disorders, Dr. Ami Klin, to the state as Chief of the Marcus Autism Cemter and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar.  The full text of the press release announcing the appointment is below.

Press Release 

Marcus Autism Center Appoints First Chief

Former Yale Autism Program Director, Ami Klin, Ph.D., to Help Transform Autism in State of Georgia

ATLANTA, Oct. 13, 2010 – Marcus Autism Center, a wholly owned subsidiary of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, has appointed Ami Klin, Ph.D., as its first chief of autism and related disorders. Dr. Klin will also be a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar at Emory University and director of the Division of Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. 

Dr. Klin is an internationally recognized psychologist and researcher. He comes from the Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine, where he was the Harris Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and directed the Yale Autism Program.

While at Yale, Dr. Klin’s primary research activities focused on the social mind and brain, and aspects of autism from infancy through adulthood. In his most noted work, Dr. Klin used eye-tracking technology to visualize and measure social engagement, allowing him to monitor infants who potentially have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The world-renowned leader has significant academic research funding accomplishments. In 2007, the Yale Autism Program, with Dr. Klin as the principal investigator, was awarded the Autism Center of Excellence status by the National Institutes of Health. This highly competitive and prestigious award included $7.5 million of direct funding.

As a Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Eminent Scholar, Dr. Klin joins other world-renowned scientists recruited to Georgia by the GRA and its partner academic research universities. These scientists serve as a key catalyst for advancing research in Georgia through dozens of centers of research excellence – university-based enterprises that serve as magnets for scientists and federal research dollars.

“The efforts of Dr. Klin and his team will lead Georgia into the forefront of research into autism spectrum disorders. Their work can potentially transform the lives of countless children and their families worldwide,” said Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance.

Dr. Klin’s appointment concludes the Marcus Autism Center’s nationwide search for a leader who will transform its efforts in diagnosis, treatment, research and advocacy for children with autism and related disorders. The appointment coincides with the 20th anniversary of founder Bernie Marcus’s commitment to improving the lives of children with autism and related disorders.   

“Autism is no longer a rare disorder,” said Marcus. “Dr. Klin has the breathtaking ability to think about this disorder in terms of a system of care and change the future for the next generation of children affected with autism and related disorders.”

ASDs are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States, affecting one in 110 children nationally. In Georgia, that number is even higher. It is estimated that more than 20,000 Georgia children – or roughly one in 98 – have an ASD.

“I am very excited to join Marcus Autism Center–the largest and most comprehensive center in the Southeast providing treatment for children with autism and related disorders,” said Dr. Klin.  “We look forward to advancing this comprehensive center by bringing experts and advocates from key academic and statewide organizations together to solve the puzzles and challenges associated with autism spectrum disorders.”

Dr. Klin’s new role is crucial, as the number of children with these conditions continues to rise. Dr. Klin and his team will play an instrumental role in the autism community, working collaboratively with experts at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Autism Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Atlanta Autism Consortium. He will join Marcus Autism Center and Emory at the beginning of 2011, along with other experts from Yale University.

“We have a unique opportunity in Atlanta to impact the future for children on the autism spectrum,” said Don Mueller, executive director, Marcus Autism Center. “Dr. Klin’s recruitment illustrates the commitment the Atlanta community has to building a world-class autism center in our neighborhood. His team will work closely with members of the Atlanta Autism Consortium to transform care for children with ASDs in Georgia and around the world.”

“There are very few recruitments that we consider transformative. The recruitment of Dr. Klin and his colleagues will transform our programs in autism and social neuroscience and have an impact far beyond Georgia,” said Barbara Stoll, M.D., George W. Brumley Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and chief academic officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

A native of Brazil, Dr. Klin lived in Israel for many years, receiving his bachelor’s degree from Hebrew University. He earned his doctorate in cognitive psychology at the University of London. Dr. Klin was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale before he joined the faculty in 1992. He was honored for his medical contributions by the Autism Society of America Foundation, the Asperger’s Association of New England and the Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center, among others. He is a member of the International Society for Autism Research.


Marcus Autism Center is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities, treating more than 4,000 children a year. Marcus Autism Center offers services with generous philanthropic support from community leaders and funding from local and state governments. The Marcus Autism Center staff of highly trained pediatric professionals is supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Marcus Autism Center is committed to helping children realize their greatest potential.


November 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm 1 comment