Posts filed under ‘GRA Eminent Scholars’

First U.S. human exposome center grant awarded

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>

June 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

Controlling gene expression levels reverses schizophrenia symptoms

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>

June 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

IL-21 signals key to long-lasting antibody responses

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>

June 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

Study concludes drug side effects inevitable

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>

June 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm Leave a comment

Sholl to chair Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

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>

May 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

Duke University to honor Max Cooper

GRA Eminent Scholar Max Cooper will be awarded an honorary degree from Duke University at its May 12 Commencement.  Dr. Cooper was recruited to Emory University in 2008, where he is the GRA Eminent Scholar in Immunology.  A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, he was the first to identify the two arms of the immune system — T cells and B cells — a cornerstone for understanding and marshalling its power.  Read more here>

February 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm Leave a comment

Comcast picks Lancope for network visibility, security

A recent news brief in CED, an electronic magazine focused on broadband communications, Comcast has selected Lancope to “give it deeper insight into data center issues and block network attacks.”

Using Lancope’s StealthWatch, Comcast will perform traffic analysis on its backbone, enable distributed denial-of-service detection at its service delivery layer, and troubleshoot at its data center and enterprise layers.  According to Comcast, StealthWatch scaled better than competitive tools by a 10-to-1 ratio and allows data center issue resolution time to be reduced from days or weeks to a few hours.

GRA Eminent Scholar John Copeland at Georgia Tech founded Lancope in 2000.  The company’s StealthWatch system is now the most widely used solution for “network behavior analysis” and has received wide acclaim in the computer security industry, having captured multiple awards since its first release in 2001.  Read more here>

January 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

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