Archive for August, 2012

GRA Eminent Scholar Bill Dynan joins Emory and Winship

GRA Eminent Scholar Bill Dynan, a leading molecular biologist, has joined the Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute.  As a Professor of Radiation Oncology and Biochemistry, Dynan will continue to focus his work on repairing double-strand breaks that occur in DNA from ionizing radiation, which has applications in cancer treatment and gene correction for sickle cell disease.

Dynan, who comes to Emory from Georgia Health Sciences University, has also been working with scientists at Emory on NASA-funded research to explore whether specific radiation encountered among space and high-altitude air travelers — including frequent flyers —  increases their cancer risk.  Read more here>

August 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

Clinical trials conference set for November 2012

The Georgia Research Alliance is a founding  partner in presenting the first “Clinical Trials in Georgia” conference November 2, 2012, in Atlanta.  The conference is designed to spotlight innovations that can make clinical trials faster, more efficient and more compliant.  Spearheaded by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s Bioscience Leadership Council, the conference will also showcase resources in Georgia that facilitate effective clinical trials research initiatives.

In addition to GRA and the Metro Chamber, conference founding partners include the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Read more here>

August 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

Glaucoma and cardiovascular expert new GRA Eminent Scholar

C. Ross Ethier has been named the new Georgia Research Alliance Lawrence L. Gellerstedt, Jr. Eminent Scholar in Bioengineering in the Georgia Tech and Emory University Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering.  Internationally known for his work in the area of biomechanics and mechanobiology, he is considered one of the world’s leading researchers in glaucoma, arterial disease and osteoarthritis.

Ethier comes to Georgia from Imperial College London, where he was Professor and Head of the Department of Bioengineering.  His glaucoma research has the potential to create new approaches to treating the disease, the second most common cause of blindness.

“Dr. Ethier’s strengths in applying his expertise in biomechanics to the understanding of glaucoma, arterial disease  and osteoarthritis are world-class,” said Michael Cassidy, GRA’s president and CEO. “We anticipate that his work will lead to new treatments for these conditions that affect so many worldwide.”  Read more here>

August 28, 2012 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

$31 million grant renewal goes to Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded nearly $31 million over the next five years to the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI)  to renew the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award initially funded in 2007.

Led by Emory University, with Morehouse School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology as primary academic partners, the ACTSI is focused on transforming the quality and value of clinical research and translating research results into better outcomes for patients.  The Georgia Research Alliance is among ACTSI’s other science partners.  See details here>

August 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

GRA Distinguished Cancer Scientists receives NSF CAREER Award

Natarajan Kannan, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia, has received a $969,822 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award.  With it over the next five years he will focus on gaining an in-depth understanding of the evolution of kinases, a protein that controls cell signaling pathways.  Since ineffective communication between cells can trigger disease and sometimes death, Kannan hopes that the results of his studies will lead to new approaches for treating a variety of diseases.

The NSF CAREER Award program offers the organization’s most prestigious award to help young faculty members develop projects that effectively integrate research and education within their university.  Read more about Kannan here>

August 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

Bill Gates and GRA Eminent Scholar Steve Stice review poultry project

It is rare for researchers to be able to present their work-in-progress to the leader of the foundation that is supporting it.  It is rarer still when that leader is Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But that is just what the Georgia Research Alliance was able to arrange recently, bringing together Gates and GRA Eminent Scholar Steve Stice and his research team.

Armed with a $1.6 million dollar grant from the Gates Foundation, University of Georgia colleagues Stice, Franklin West, Yangqing Lu and Poultry Science faculty are collaborating with Claudio Afonso of the USDA Agricultural Research Service Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory to create disease resistant poultry.  Using a new technology – called cellular adaptive resistance (CAR) – that Stice and West developed, the initial focus is on breeding chickens resistant to Newcastle virus. According to Stice, the potential of the technology extends beyond poultry to other livestock.  “We want to provide a new way to create animals with natural resistance to specific diseases,” Stice said. “Disease and death in livestock are serious problems, particularly in underdeveloped countries.”

In the meeting with Gates, who was in Atlanta to address the Education Commission of the States, Stice presented the progress of the researchers to date and described the long-range potential of the research for improving livestock health and creating improved breeding stock, an area in which the Gates Foundation is hoping to spur transformational changes.  The economic impact of such improvements, particularly in targeted areas of Africa and India, is estimated to exceed billions of dollars annually.

Wanting to add a bit of pizazz to his slide presentation, in advance of the meeting in an Atlanta hotel, Stice, West and Lu set up a microscope to provide a live demonstration of the actual insertion of stem cells into an avian embryo.  Following Stice’s briefing, Gates peppered the researchers with questions about Newcastle Disease Virus and its spread, stem cells, the CAR technology,  and a wide range of other aspects of the project.

It was gratifying to discuss our project with Bill Gates.  The entire UGA team is highly motivated to advance our science because it offers a possible solution to a dire animal health problem that impacts Africa’s poorer farmers, many of whom are women,” commented Stice.

The Georgia Research Alliance has invested in Stice’s research since his recruitment as a GRA Eminent Scholar in 1998, including the recent acquisition of laboratory equipment key to project with the Gates foundation.  Through its VentureLab program, GRA is also working with Stice and the biotechnology company he founded to explore the development of the several technologies for use by the livestock producers.

Dr.  Stice’s dedication to improving animal and human health and his ability to help to move his research from the laboratory to industry use are extraordinary,” said GRA President Mike Cassidy.   “His work in developing Newcastle Disease-resistant chickens has vast potential impact not only in developing nations but close to home for the poultry industry so vital to Georgia’s economy.

Read more about the project here>


August 13, 2012 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

Wireless systems for patient monitoring being tested at Ft. Gordon

GRA Eminent Max Stachura, director of the Georgia Health Sciences University Center for Telehealth, is collaborating with U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center and the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center (DDEAMC) at Ft. Gordon, GA in evaluating new wireless urine and temperature management systems developed by Future Path Medical Holding Company.

According to Major Christopher Colombo, medical director of the ICU at DDEMAC, the care of soldiers [with spinal cord injuries and other wounds] is complicated and requires the development and implementation of new technologies for ongoing health maintenance. 

“The opportunity for enhanced care of our soldiers with new and innovative technology such as Future Path’s systems is critical to explore and document,” Stachura said. “The study will provide data and experience applicable to the civilian health care sector as well.”  Read more here>

August 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm Leave a comment