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April 2017 Notes from the Georgia Research Alliance
 
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UGA spotlights value of GRA partnership, Eminent Scholars


GRA’s partnership with Georgia’s research universities brings big dividends, as evidenced by a new University of Georgia article on GRA Eminent Scholars. The article — which features UGA’s two newest Eminent Scholars, Dennis Kyle and Karen Norris — notes that the five scholars recruited since 2015 have fueled a 20 percent increase in research expenditures at UGA the past two fiscal years. “The strong partnership between [ GRA and UGA ] is producing tremendous benefits to individuals and communities across our state, nation and world," said President Jere W. Morehead. Above: GRA Eminent Scholar Steve Dalton of UGA.Meet UGA’s 17 GRA Eminent Scholars >
 

New NIH-funded research at Georgia State
will explore diabetes-related heart condition  

A heart condition with no available treatment is at the center of a new four-year research effort being launched at Georgia State University. GRA Eminent Scholar Ming-Hui Zou (above) and colleague Zhonglin Xie are exploring why energy is not produced inside some cardiac muscle cells — and whether this deficiency is key to causing the condition diabetic cardiomyopathy. It’s known that diabetes factors into the likelihood that a person will suffer from cardiomyopathy, which can lead to irregular heartbeats of even heart failure. Exactly how is a mystery, which is why no treatment exists for the condition. NIH is providing $2.8 million in funding for the project. • Read Georgia State’s release >

One to watch: Young Georgia Tech scientist captures attention — and $1M — from NSF


Baratunde “Bara” Cola of Georgia Tech is one of two early-career scientists named to receive a prestigious National Science Foundation award that includes a $1 million, five-year research grant in his chosen field of study. The Alan T. Waterman Award honors outstanding researchers age 35 or younger in NSF-supported fields of science and engineering. An associate professor of mechanical engineering, Cola led a team that converts light into electrical current more efficiently than today’s technology. His invention led to the launch of Carbice, a GRA Ventures company that accelerates the testing of computer chips while lowering the cost of evaluation. • Read Georgia Tech's coverage > • More on the NSF award >

Emory: Testing for activated T cell in patients with lung cancer may predict shrinking tumor 


Another discovery out of Emory University this month brought medicine a step closer to understanding the power and potential of certain immunotherapy drugs on lung cancer. Scientists at the Emory Vaccine Center, led by GRA Eminent Scholar Rafi Ahmed, found that testing to determine if a T cell called CD8 was activated through the drugs could help predict whether a tumor would shrink. Investigators at Emory's Winship Cancer Institute teamed up with Ahmed's group; the results of their findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Lung cancer is the second most-diagnosed cancer among both men and women in Georgia, accounting for 14 percent of all cancer diagnoses. Above: Dr. Rathi Pillai (left), co-senior author of the study, with Winship patient Danny Foshee.Details about the Emory study >

'Sugar scientists' gather at state symposium


Any conference of professionals that includes a session titled, “Bacterial Glycosphingolipids Modulate Host Intestinal Homeostasis” is clearly for a specialized audience. And so it was for the Georgia Glycoscience Symposium, held April 25 at UGA’s renowned Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. For 150 leading scientific minds in glycoscience — the study of biological sugars and how they function — the 11th symposium was an excellent opportunity to gain new insights into how these complex carbohydrates factor into infectious diseases and immunology. Seven GRA Eminent Scholars from Georgia State University and UGA participated, several of them as speakers, and the Georgia Research Alliance served as one of the symposium’s sponsors.
 
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