February 12, 2007
Emory’s life science research efforts honored with awards
The Georgia Biomedical Partnership recognized Emory University research programs, scientists and biotech startup companies with its 2007 Biomedical Community and Deal of the Year awards. The GBP is a consortium of biotech companies, universities, research institutes and government, which each year recognizes individuals, companies or institutions for significant contributions to Georgia’s life sciences industry.
The Emory Vaccine Center received the partnership’s Biomedical Community Award. One of the world’s largest and most successful academic vaccine centers, the Emory Vaccine Center was established in 1996 with the recruitment of director Rafi Ahmed, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. Over the past decade the Vaccine Center, located at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, has attracted more than $200 million in external research funding. The Center employs 39 faculty researchers and nearly 200 postgraduate students and staff developing vaccines for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, malaria, influenza and other global disease threats.
Marie Csete, director of Emory’s human embryonic stem cell laboratory, was honored as a member of the GBP’s 2006 Legislative Response Team for its successful efforts with the Georgia legislature related to cloning and stem cell legislation.
The GBP recognized Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Medical College of Georgia with a Deal of the Year award for a $10 million National Institutes of Health grant to create a Nanomedicine Development Center focused on repair of DNA damage, a problem that lies at the heart of many diseases. The multidisciplinary partnership includes biologists, physicians, mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists. The center will be based in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and will be directed by Gang Bao. The award recognizes Emory and Georgia Tech’s third NIH-funded nanomedicine center in less than two years.
Several biotech startup companies were honored with Deal of the Year awards. “Recognition, like the GBP awards, validates the quality of Emory’s product pipeline,” said Todd Sherer, associate vice president for research and director of technology transfer.
GeoVax Labs was recognized for its reverse merger with Dauphin Technology, enabling GeoVax to become a publicly traded company. Established in 2001, GeoVax licensed and is commercially developing an AIDS vaccine developed by a team led by Harriet Robinson, a faculty member in the Emory Vaccine Center and chair of the Division of Microbiology and Immunology at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. GeoVax is currently conducting clinical trials of the vaccine in humans.
AtheroGenics was recognized for a partnership with London-based AstraZeneca for the global development and commercialization of AtheroGenics’ atherosclerosis drug. An Alpharetta-based pharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases, AtheroGenics was founded by Russell Medford and Wayne Alexander, based on their cardiovascular research discoveries at Emory.
Metastatix, a biotech company developing drugs to treat metastatic cancer, HIV and macular degeneration, was recognized for raising $3.6 million in Series A venture capital funding. Founded in 2005, Metastatix was established using technology licensed from Emory that was developed by Winship Cancer Institute biologist Hyunsuk Shim and chemists Dennis Liotta and James Snyder. The Emory scientists discovered that a small-molecule compound can block a receptor on tumor cells that plays a major role in the metastatic spread of cancer.