A recent report from The Science Coalition gives numerous examples of how federally funded research at universities has led to innovation, new companies, and the creation of jobs. The Sparking Economic Growth report lists the university research origins of 100 companies, including Google, Genentech, Cisco Systems and iRobot. Four Emory startup companies were highlighted among the success stories: GeoVax, Inc., Pharmasset, Inc., Syntermed, Inc., and Triangle Pharmaceuticals, which was later acquired by Gilead Sciences in California.
Emory President James Wagner wrote a followup editorial in the Atlanta Business Chronicle about the importance of scientific research in Georgiaâ€™s universities to the health of our economy.
“Atlanta can be proud that Emory University is a shining example in this report, with four highlighted successful companies that were launched because federally funded research resulted in innovative and life-saving discoveries. These four success stories only scratch the surface as examples of the more than 150 companies and the resulting 5,500 jobs created in Georgia from discoveries at its research universities.
“Since the 1990s, Emory has turned external research funding, the majority from the federal government, into more than $775 million in licensing revenues from drugs, diagnostics, devices and consumer products. This is money infused into the stateâ€™s economy that helps create jobs and educational opportunities, saves lives, and leads to more research discoveries for the benefit of all. Emory has launched 47 start-up companies and licensed 27 drugs, medical devices and diagnostics already in the marketplace and 12 more currently in human trials.”
Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing faculty and students traveled to Moultrie, Ga., June 13-25 to provide valuable health care services to migrant farm workers and their families. Nursing faculty and students make the trip annually to the rural, agricultural community three hours south of Atlanta as part of the Farm Worker Family Health Program.
There are more than 100,000 migrant and seasonal farm workers in Georgia. Migrant farm workers face more complex health issues than the general population because of the physical demands of their jobs, pesticide exposure, poor access to health care services, and substandard housing conditions.
â€œOur clinics may be the only health care they get during the year,â€ says Judith Wold, a visiting professor in Emoryâ€™s School of Nursing and director of the Farm Worker Family Health Program. â€œThe farm workers are very hardworking people and they are so appreciative of the health care we give them.â€
By day, the students worked at Cox Elementary School with farm worker children. Each evening, they set up mobile clinics to treat adult farm workers. The students worked alongside other Georgia allied health students in physical therapy, psychology, pharmacy and dental hygiene.
Wold, who has participated in the project since its launch in 1994, estimates that the program has treated more than 14,000 farm workers over the course of its 16-year history.
â€œOther states wish they had what Georgia has: Research universities that work together, and a unified commitment from industry, government and academia to grow a technology-based economy,” states Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) in the GRAâ€™s recent annual report.”
As one of six GRA universities, Emory has benefited from this unique partnership in numerous ways: through its 11 Eminent Scholars, multidisciplinary university and industry collaborations, and support for research in vaccines, nanomedicine, transplantation, neurosciences, pediatrics, biomedical engineering, clinical research, and drug discovery.
Emory is featured throughout the report, including
The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory and its four eminent scholars, Xiaoping Hu, PhD, Eberhard Voit, PhD, Barbara Boyan, PhD and Don Giddens, PhD.
Emory transplant medicine expert and GRA Eminent Scholar Allan Kirk, MD, PhD, who collaborates with Andrew Mellor, PhD at the Medical College of Georgia on research to find enzymes that could keep the body from rejecting newly transplanted organs.
The Emory-University of Georgia Influenza Center of Excellence and its leading collaborators, GRA Eminent Scholar and Emory Vaccine Center Director Rafi Ahmed, PhD, and Emory microbiologist Richard Compans, PhD, along with UGA GRA Eminent Scholar Ralph Tripp.
The ACTSI is a partnership of Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine and Georgia Institute of Technology, along with other community partners and collaborators. It is one of 46 medical research institutes working to enhance translational research in the United States and is supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Award program, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources. Read more
Residents and relief workers along the oil-ravaged Gulf of Mexico could experience a host of short- and long-term health problems, including respiratory ailments, neurological symptoms, heat exhaustion and mental stress.
Emory University environmental health expert Linda McCauley, RN, PhD, is one of more than a dozen national scientists participating in a two-day Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop in New Orleans exploring some of the potential health risks that people in the Gulf could face.
Short term, McCauley says, there could be reports of respiratory problems from people whoâ€™ve inhaled gas fumes as well as neurological issues such as dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting. In addition, exposure to oil may cause eye and skin irritation.
â€œOn some of the days itâ€™s been so hot theyâ€™ve only allowed workers to work 12 minutes out of the hour,â€ she says. â€œA lot of new workers are being brought in [to clean up the oil]. These are workers who donâ€™t do this for a living and may never have been exposed to this type of heat before and thatâ€™s a serious issue.â€
Consider this: Alzheimerâ€™s is a uniquely human disorder. But why? Why donâ€™t nonhuman primates, such as monkeys, get Alzheimerâ€™s disease. Monkeys form the senile plaques that are identical to the plaques found in humans. So do other animals.
â€œYet, despite the fact that nonhuman primates make this protein that we know is very important in the pathogenesis of Alzheimerâ€™s disease, they donâ€™t develop the full disease,â€ says Lary Walker, PhD. Walker is an associate professor at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
â€œThey donâ€™t develop the tangles we associate with Alzheimerâ€™s disease, the neuronal loss, the shrinkage of the brain, and they donâ€™t get demented in the sense that humans do,â€ says Walker.
When our bodies make a protein, the protein tends to fold into a functional form. But when it comes to Alzheimerâ€™s disease, some proteins misfold, becoming sticky and then combining with one another. In their collective form, the proteins can then form plaques or tangles, the two types of lesions associated with Alzheimerâ€™s disease.
And for some unknown reason, people who have plaques usually go on to form tangles. But people who have tangles donâ€™t always go on to form plaques. No one is sure why. But thatâ€™s what researcher Walker wants to find out.
To listen to Walkerâ€™s own words about Alzheimerâ€™s disease, access Emoryâ€™s new Sound Science podcast.
This year’s riders traveled from Emory to Eatonton, Georgia, and back to Emory along with a volunteer crew.
Because of generous sponsorships, Action Cycling donates 100 percent of funds raised by participants to AIDS vaccine research. These unrestricted funds fill gaps that cannot be met by grant dollars alone.
The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University offers a collaborative approach for dealing with cancer that begins as soon as a patient is diagnosed. The program considers the emotional, psychological and physical symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment.
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
And options for patients may include cognitive therapy, antidepressants, or both. Anger, fear, and anxiety mixed with the physical and emotional side effects of cancer treatments can lead to depression during and even after treatment, when patients may feel isolated.
Darren Johnson spent his 19th birthday undergoing a bone marrow transplant. A few weeks earlier, Johnson had been diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a form of leukemia in which the bone marrow fails to produce enough normal blood cells. He endured a year of treatment and then a lengthy recovery. (Watch “When Life Goes On,” a short video about his story.)
Only relatively recently have health care providers turned serious attention to the emotional well-being of cancer patients. They have realized that easing the emotional burden of a cancer diagnosis for patients and families may actually improve treatment and outcome.
A study published in the May 17, 2010, issue of the journal Pediatrics found that one type of pesticide commonly used on fruits and vegetables may be contributing to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, in children.
The study measured the levels of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children from across the United States. Children with the highest concentration of pesticides in their urine were more likely to have symptoms of ADHD.
Barr says while the study doesnâ€™t prove causality between pesticide exposures and ADHD, it does shed light on how even low level daily exposures to pesticides could potentially impact cognitive health.
â€œIt seems very plausible that low-level daily exposures to pesticides can produce some subtle effects like ADHD or other neurological delays,â€ she says.
Barr notes that additional research is needed to confirm a connection to pesticides and ADHD, but says there are tips for limiting your exposure to commonly used pesticides.
â€œWeâ€™ve done studies here at Emory and also at CDC that have indicated that if you use organic food or if you wash your food properly prior to preparation, you can reduce the levels of these metabolites in your urine.Â Eat as much organic produce as possible, or wash your fruits and vegetables very well and that likely could decrease the chances of your children developing ADHD,â€ says Barr.