Nov/Dec Notes from the Georgia Research Alliance
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UGA recruits expert on infectious disease as GRA Eminent Scholar

One of the world’s leading experts on malaria and parasitic diseases is GRA’s newest Eminent Scholar. Recruited from the University of South Florida, Dennis Kyle joins the University of Georgia on January 3. Kyle was part of an international team that identified a new antimalarial drug, ELQ-300. This promising drug not only serves as a therapeutic for the illness, but also prevents malaria from being transmitted by mosquitoes to humans. Kyle’s research on what causes parasitic diseases to resist drugs is fueling his discovery of potent new medicines that are desperately needed around the world. • Meet Dennis Kyle >

Magazine: Research at Georgia's universities is now a big – and collaborative – enterprise

If you missed the November issue of Georgia Trend Magazine, check out the article that examines the extraordinary growth of university research in Georgia. Research is now a $2 billion enterprise, and the state ranks 12th in the nation in university research expenditures. The article, "On the Cutting Edge," credits the Georgia Research Alliance for fostering greater collaboration among the state's universities. It also looks at the diversity of scientific areas being explored, such as the exploration of metastatic cancer being conducted by Emory University’s Adam Marcus: “Cures and advances don’t happen by magic," Marcus says. "They require blood, sweat, tears – and dollars.” • Read the article > 

GRA Venture Fund adds solar canopy maker Quest Renewables to its investment portfolio

When the U.S. Department of Energy launched its SunShot initiative in 2010, Georgia Tech researchers rose to the challenge and developed a wealth of new solar technologies. One of their innovations was a solar parking canopy that requires only half the steel as similar structures and can be constructed in a third of the time. Their invention launched a company, Quest Renewables, which this fall received investment from GRA Venture Fund, LLC. The fast-growing company is already bringing affordable solar power installations to businesses all over Georgia. Above: Quest Renewables' QuadPod solar energy canopy atop the parking deck at Agnes Scott College in DecaturA mini-feature on Quest >

Why do some cells in the body harbor fat? GRA Eminent Scholar pursues the answer

When it comes to losing weight to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other ailments, the best prescription has been a combination of diet and exercise. But GRA Eminent Scholar Neal Weintraub at Augusta University is pursuing a supplemental approach — getting the body’s fat cells to function better. “What actually happens as you gain weight is the fat cells get bigger and they become dysfunctional,” Weintraub says. “Once they become dysfunctional, that is when you get diabetes.” Weintraub is exploring why this happens: He and colleagues recently received a $1.8 million NIH grant to learn more about a protein that factors into calories being stored in fat cells instead of other cells. Pictured above: Weintraub (left) with Augusta U grad student Nicole Yiew.More on their work >  • Watch a video on Augusta’s new Vascular Biology Center >

Academy of GRA Eminent Scholars convenes

Dozens of the state's top scientists converged on Atlanta in November for the annual meeting of the Academy of GRA Eminent Scholars. The event featured both poster sessions (above) and short presentations on topics ranging from the mechanisms of ebola (Chris Basler) to designing longer-lasting vaccines (Ted Ross) to the challenges of modern-day power-grid parity (Deepak Divan). A panel discussion led by Amy Moore, GRA’s director of research programs, explored cluster hiring and the “spillover effects” that star scientists have, which include a greater yield of knowledge, more collaboration and role modeling. Panelists Robin Morris of Georgia State, Jerry Thursby of Georgia Tech and Sue Wessler of UC-Riverside shared their perspectives; and earlier in the day, Wessler gave a keynote speech on “Transposing from the Research Lab to the Undergraduate Classroom.” • See photos on Facebook >

Neurotrack nets $500K in J&J competition

Johnson & Johnson has named GRA Ventures graduate Neurotrack as one of the two winners of its latest QuickFire Challenge, which brings a $500,000 prize and the offer of free incubator space. The Challenge recognizes novel technologies that represent a blend of pharma, medical device and consumer science and have the potential to improve a major health need. Neurotrack, which uses eye-tracking technology to identify cognitive decline — years before symptoms appear — was launched out of the Emory University lab of Stuart Zola. Neurotrack was also featured in a TechCrunch article this month. • See the TechCrunch article >  • Read about the J&J competition >

GRA earns national award for tech-based economic development  

November brought national recognition of GRA as the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) presented the Alliance with an Excellence in Technology-Based Economic Development Award. GRA Venture Fund, LLC was celebrated for creating prosperity through entrepreneurship and capital. “It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by our peers all over the country,” said GRA President and CEO Mike Cassidy, “and it’s an affirmation that GRA makes a real impact on Georgia’s economy, to a degree that it impresses economic development professionals in other states.” The honor marks the third time SSTI has bestowed a national award to GRA. Above: GRA VP of Venture Development Lee Herron (left) accepts the SSTI award from Bob Coy, president and CEO of CincyTech, a 2014 Excellence in TBED winner. • More about the honors >

Pete McTier medals in service to Emory

Our heartfelt congratulations to retired GRA Trustee Charles “Pete” McTier for having been awarded Emory University’s highest alumni honor, the Emory Medal. McTier is also an emeritus trustee at Emory and led the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation for many years. Emory Medal recipients are recognized for their depth and breadth of service to the university and to the community. Pictured above: McTier (left) with fellow Emory Medal recipient S. Perry Brickman (right) and Emory President Claire E. Sterk.Read the news release > 

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