Posts filed under ‘News’

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

2nd annual clinical research conference to be held December 4

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 .

June 4, 2013 at 2:52 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

GPB Nominated for Five Southeast EMMY® Awards for GRA’s “The Future Files”

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:

  1. News & Program Specialty-  Health/Science –  Robert Brienza, Joshua Seftel, Jesse Sweet
  2. Crafts Achievement Graphic Arts –  Jawad Metni
  3. Crafts AchievemenEditor (Animations) –  Daniel Sousa
  4. Crafts Achievement Musical Composition/Arrangement –  Fred Story
  5. 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 Watch it now >

Future Files Logo FINAL

May 20, 2013 at 4:31 pm Leave a comment

UGA College of Veterinary Medicine honors Don Harn

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.

May 14, 2013 at 10:19 am Leave a comment

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