September 2019 Notes from the Georgia Research Alliance
View this email in your browser

Gov. Kemp meets with GRA Trustees, signals support for Alliance 

Noting parallels between GRA’s work and his administration’s priorities, Gov. Brian Kemp told GRA’s Board of Trustees this month that “you have a governor who is willing to partner with you.” Appearing at the Trustees’ September meeting, Gov. Kemp referenced his Georgians First program, which aims to grow the state’s small businesses, and his emphasis on strengthening the economies of rural areas. Both priorities, he noted, have ties to GRA’s work in accelerating entrepreneurship and expanding university research. “We need innovation to better provide for our citizens,” Gov. Kemp said. “This [GRA] model does that every single day, and I know we can do more of it.” The governor also called GRA “worth funding” and affirmed that “you have my commitment” to sharing the story of the Alliance’s value. • Download a synopsis of GRA’s value >

Business Chronicle spotlights GRA Venture Fund

In a front-page story,The Atlanta Business Chronicle spotlights the 10th anniversary of GRA Venture Fund, the public-private investment fund that strengthens high-potential, research-based startups in Georgia. The article notes that the Fund is “punching well above its weight,” particularly in its contributions to economic development in Georgia. The Business Chronicle also added the Fund to its “First Look” video series, with correspondent Dave Williams (above) sharing metrics of the fund’s growth and job creation. • Read the article >Watch the video brief >

Emory’s Max Cooper wins monumental award 

One of the world’s greatest honors for medical research will be awarded to GRA Eminent Scholar Max Cooper for his historic immunology work conducted more than a half-century ago. Cooper and onetime colleague Jacques Miller are the 2019 recipients of the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, which brings a $250,000 prize. In the 1960s, the scientists identified T and B cells as the body's two major defenses against disease and illness — a breakthrough the Lasker Foundation describes as “a monumental achievement that launched the course of modern immunology.” Cooper is the first scientist from a Georgia university to win a Lasker Award, and dating back to 1946, nearly half of the winners in this category of the Lasker Award have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize for Medicine. • Great story about Cooper’s award >Watch GRA’s 2-minute video on Cooper’s breakthrough >

GSU: Protein may unlock Ebola defense

At a time when the deadly Ebola virus is surging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia State University offers some encouraging news. GRA Eminent Scholar Chris Basler and his Georgia State team discovered this month that creating mutations in just one of Ebola’s proteins can activate an immune response against the virus. The protein, VP35, allows Ebola to block an immune response, but by altering its DNA in non-human primates, Basler saw that the primates were actually protected against the virus. The team’s findings were widely reported in news outlets, and the scientists now aim to see if the same approach can protect humans. • Some details on the discovery >See Discover magazine's blog entry about Basler's work >

More rural, minority Georgians will access
cancer trials because of grant to Augusta U

Cutting-edge cancer treatments will be more available to Georgia’s underserved populations thanks to a $6 million National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant awarded to the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University (above). Headed by GRA Eminent Scholar Jorge Cortes, the center will use the funds to forge and strengthen partnerships with healthcare providers across the state and recruit more rural and minority patients to cancer clinical trials. In the first five-year NCI grant to Augusta U, nearly 50% of patients enrolling in clinical trials were minorities — compared to 5% minority participation in such trials nationwide. Along with the grant, NCI also authorized the $11 million renewal of a program called GA NCORP, which brings cancer clinical research closer to people in their own communities. • More about the grant >

Scholar to deepen exploration of Alzheimer’s

Mild cognitive impairment brings a hard question: Will it progress into Alzheimer’s disease? GRA Eminent Scholar Vince Calhoun and colleague Jingyu Liu are working to answer that question by using machine learning. In September, NIH announced it was awarding Calhoun a five-year, $3.3 million grant to advance his work. “Alzheimer’s does not always present in the same way in every patient,” Calhoun says. “People might have similar symptoms, but the brain changes are different.” Calhoun, who holds a joint appointment at Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Emory, will combine imaging and genomic data from patients with Alzheimer’s and related disorders. The combined information will allow them to search for what they describe as a “multimodal fingerprint” for subtypes of the disease. • Read about the research >

Ga. Tech team investigates microbial mystery

In recent decades, the study of bacteria has expanded beyond individual microbes to entire communities. Exploring how bacteria interact in these communities has deepened understanding of how they affect the body. In September, GRA Eminent Scholar Marvin Whiteley and colleagues published an article showing that the oral pathogen that causes the gum disease periodontitis thrives better when paired with bacteria outside the mouth versus inside. That surprised the research team because the pathogen — known as Aa (for Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans) — has evolved when living with other microbes in the mouth. In studying the interactions between Aa and other microbes, the team first manipulated nearly all of the pathogen’s 2,100 genes, making the study massive in size. The results of their work, Whiteley says, shed new light on how different microbes alter the growth of bacterial infections. Above: Georgia Tech research assistant Kelly Michie, co-author of the study, holds up a dish with a bacteria culture. • More about Whiteley’s work >

GRA's Website
Copyright © 2019 Georgia Research Alliance, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list