May 2015 E-News Wrap-up from the Georgia Research Alliance

Top researcher in cystic fibrosis coming to Emory

GRA, Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta have teamed up to recruit a doctor and top researcher in cystic fibrosis as the newest GRA Eminent Scholar. Eric Sorscher, M.D. joins Emory in a new professorship named for GRA Chair Doug Hertz, a longtime supporter of the Alliance and CHOA. Sorscher headed the nation’s first academic center devoted to cystic fibrosis research at the University of Alabama-Birmingham; his exploration of the genetic underpinnings of CF have moved science closer to new drug treatments. • More >

Trustee meeting brings review of GRA's impact over time  

Anniversaries typically bring reflections of the past, but the marking of GRA’s 25th anniversary at the May 21 Board of Trustees meeting was just as much about the organization’s present and future.
The first showing of a new video — featuring interviews with nine trustees, past and present – examined where the Alliance is today and imagined where Georgia will be tomorrow with GRA’s continued work. Trustees spoke to how GRA has fostered job creation, enriched the state’s reputation and laid the foundation for future economic growth.
At a luncheon that followed the business meeting, three speakers underscored GRA’s importance and exhorted leaders to write the next chapter of the Alliance. Ken Ostrowski, director of McKinsey and Company – which conducted the study that gave rise to GRA’s 1990 launch – emphasized the importance of university research to the state’s future. “At the end of the day,” he said, “research is the lifeblood.”
University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby brought greetings from former Gov. Zell Miller, whom he praised for “pursuing significant funding to launch GRA,” despite the fact that the state was in a recession in the early ’90s. “The seven little words [Gov. Miller] never wanted to hear were ‘We’ve never done it that way before,’” Huckaby said. "That [thinking] still applies today."
And former University of Georgia president Charles Knapp said collaboration is both GRA’s legacy and key to future success. “We’ve had all these people working together, and if you’re looking for the magic elixir of GRA, that’s what it is,” Knapp said. “We must continue to think outside boundary conditions and look around the corner for what’s next.”

Eminent Scholar Crittenden wins coveted prize 

One of the world's most prestigious awards in the area of water research will be given to GRA Eminent Scholar John Crittenden in October. The Clarke Prize is a $50,000 award bestowed by the National Water Research Institute to a scientist who has made major contributions to water science and technology. Crittenden, of Georgia Tech, has advanced water treatment technologies and helped refine the water treatment system on the International Space Station. • More on the Clarke Prize >

NeurOp partners with pharma to advance research

The Boston-based Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center has facilitated a partnership between Georgia biopharma NeurOp and Janssen Pharmaceuticals to advance exploration into treating disorders of the central nervous system. NeurOp, which launched out of Emory University with GRA Ventures investment, develops new medicines for depression, Alzheimer's and a range of other disorders. Its target is blocking a receptor called NMDA to offer relief from physical and psychological pain. Already, the company has licensed its technology to Bristol-Myers Squibb to develop a drug that combats treatment-resistant depression. • More about the new partnership >

'Breakthrough' video spotlights glaucoma

For the millions of people who suffer from glaucoma — an uncurable disease — the prospect of losing eyesight is a very real threat. Modern medicine has one approach to treating glaucoma: lowering pressure in the eye. But GRA Eminent Scholar Ross Ethier of Georgia Tech has developed an alternative. He and colleagues are applying biomedical engineering to strengthen the sclera of the eye, so it can better withstand intraocular pressure. GRA's new "Breakthroughs in Georgia" video series spotlights the work of Dr. Ethier, who is also a GRA Trustee. • Watch the video >
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