March 2019 Notes from the Georgia Research Alliance
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Universities meet to strengthen cooperative use of facilities, tools

Early last year, we reported on a historic agreement among GRA universities to share lab equipment and facilities. That agreement took center stage this month at “Core Day,” which brought together university scientists to deepen their collaboration in technology. GRA President and CEO Russell Allen delivered the keynote, which emphasized the value of universities cooperating on the use of high-tech infrastructure. And GRA Director of Public Relations Amanda Schroeder introduced GRA Core Exchange, a new online resource to help scientists search for equipment across the universities. Leading the event was Emory University’s Michael Zwick, the architect of the agreement, who facilitated a series of dialogues among the attending scientists.

GRA-backed startup will accelerate work on promising therapies, thanks to investment

Gene therapy is a fast-rising area of medicine, partly because of young companies like Guide Therapeutics, or GuideRx. Launched out of Georgia Tech around the pioneering work of James Dahlman (above), GuideRx has technology that can screen tens of thousands of nanoparticles for their ability to deliver drugs exactly where they’re needed — while avoiding where they’re not. In March, GreatPoint Ventures in San Francisco closed on an investment round in GuideRx, which will help the young company accelerate the development of potential therapies. GRA provided a grant to GuideRx last year. • Here’s the announcement >

AKESOgen joins GRA Venture Fund portfolio

The latest addition to the portfolio of GRA Venture Fund is AKESOgen, a fast-growing provider of genetic testing and analysis. Launched out of Emory University in 2010, AKESOgen conducts hundreds of thousands of tests each year for clients ranging from academic researchers to consumer product companies to clinical trial providers. The State of Georgia named AKESOgen one of its “Small Business Rock Stars” in 2018. • Learn more about AKESOgen >

Feature: Young company draws top talent

What kinds of high-value jobs are created at young companies supported by GRA and GRA Venture Fund? For an answer, look no further than Axion BioSystems. The startup out of Georgia Tech is on an upward trajectory with its product development and now employs nearly 70 professionals in its Atlanta office. In a new feature on, three of these professionals — Mike Clements, LeBraun Ford and Heather Hayes (above) — share their perspectives on working for a hot company in the biotech space. Axion develops systems that collect rich data about the electrical activities of cells. Scientists who use Axion’s systems can re-create physical activity, such as heartbeats and seizures, in a dish, then quickly apply tests and learn from them. • Get to know Axion >


Could more energy be in store for capacitors?

Building a better battery is the aim of many research scientists. But another device that stores electrical charges is now getting more attention: Capacitors. GRA Eminent Scholar Rampi Ramprasad of Georgia Tech, recruited in 2017, is working to solve one of the limitations of capacitors, namely, their low capacity for storing energy. He and colleagues are using machine learning to analyze — at the atomic level — the electronic structure of materials used to make some capacitors. Their technique is far faster than the current method of using quantum mechanics for the same kind of analysis; that added speed can accelerate the development of new and better materials. Ramprasad’s exploration is backed by the U.S. Office of Naval Research. Above: Aluminum in the hands of Rampi Ramprasad. He used machine learning to analyze its electronic structure — a much faster way to unearth clues about the material's potential to store energy. News about Ramprasad’s work >

Eminent Scholar Marilyn Wolf to be honored 

A society of top computer science researchers and analysts is bestowing one of its most prestigious awards to GRA Eminent Scholar Marilyn Wolf of Georgia Tech. According to the March announcement, the IEEE Computer Society named Wolf as this year’s recipient of the Harry H. Goode Award for her “contributions to embedded, hardware software co-design and real-time computer vision systems.” Wolf was recruited to Georgia Tech in 2007 from Princeton University. She is an expert in embedded computing, the hardware and software that perform a specific function inside a device. Wolf will receive the honor this June. • More on Wolf’s award >

What’s new in medtech? Find out at SEMDA 

It’s not too late to register for SEMDA Medtech 2019, the premier medical technology conference. Held April 8-10 at The Hotel at Avalon in Alpharetta (above), SEMDA Medtech fosters business and educational opportunities for those in medical devices, diagnostics, digital health and other areas of the medtech industry. GRA is proud to serve as sponsor of Monday’s early-stage pitch rounds. • See the full conference agenda >

Emory salutes Antios, Covanos and others

Our congratulations to two GRA-supported startups that were celebrated by Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer in March. Emory OTT’s “Deal of the Year” award went to Covanos, a medical diagnostic company that analyzes the significance of blood vessel obstructions. Antios Therapeutics, a GRA Venture Fund portfolio company, was honored as “Significant Event of the Year” for its successful license agreement and Series A financing round. Antios develops drugs to fight Hepatitis B and other viral diseases. Emory startups have received $1 billion in private investment capital over the years.• See all of Emory OTT’s award winners >
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