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Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and MCG Partner on $10M NIH Nanomedicine Center


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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Georgia Institute of TechnologyEmory University and Medical College of Georgia (MCG) a grant to partner on a Nanomedicine Development Center that will focus on DNA damage repair.

With up to $10 million in funding, the center will be Georgia Tech and Emory's third NIH-funded nanomedicine/nanotechnology center in less than two years.

The center, to be based at Georgia Tech in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, will be headed by Dr. Gang Bao, College of Engineering Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, who will serve as director.

Dr. William Dynan, associate director of MCG's Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics Program and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Molecular Biology, will be the associate director of the center.

The center will receive between $6 million and $10 million from the NIH over the next five years, and almost $3 million from the Georgia Research Alliance, a public-private partnership of Georgia universities, businesses and government created to build the state's technology industry.

"Georgia Tech is leveraging our strengths in nanotechnology and biomedical engineering to lead the way in the emerging field of nanomedicine, which has tremendous potential to make the practice of medicine more preventive and less invasive," said Dr. G. Wayne Clough, president of Georgia Tech.

"This is the third nanomedicine/nanotechnology center that the NIH has awarded to Georgia Tech and Emory University, and we are very pleased to have the Medical College of Georgia join us as a partner in this one. Together we are helping Georgia to emerge as a top state for nanomedicine."

"The continuing support of the NIH for the Emory and Georgia Tech programs in nanotechnology and biomedical engineering demonstrates their confidence in our scientists, our research accomplishments and our institutions," said Dr. James W. Wagner, president of Emory University.

"Biomedical nanotechnology holds tremendous promise for the future of healthcare, and we are proud to play such a key role in this emerging field of science and medicine."

"Georgia Tech's long-time partnership with Emory, developing partnership with Medical College of Georgia and collaborations with top researchers all over the world have helped attract the notice and considerable funding of the NIH," said Dr. Don Giddens, dean of Georgia Tech's College of Engineering.

"We are particularly pleased that this new center includes a collaboration with the Medical College of Georgia and that an important impetus for our successful application came from the support of the Georgia Research Alliance."

The center will initially focus on understanding how the body repairs damage to DNA, a molecule that encodes genetic information in each cell - a problem that lies at the heart of many diseases and illnesses.

Learning how protein complexes repair DNA damage could be the key to understanding structure-function relationships in the cell nucleus' protein machines, called nucleoprotein machines, that synthesize, modify and repair DNA and RNA.

"We need to understand the basic engineering design principles underlying how cells repair DNA damage with high precision, and apply this knowledge to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for a wide range of diseases, including cancer," said Bao.

"The probes, tools and methodologies developed in our NDC will be applicable to a wide range of biological and disease studies."

Bao also directs the NHLBI Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology at Emory and Georgia Tech.

"We are hoping that by studying the way natural machines are engineered by the body, we will develop the general principles that will allow us to engineer artificial machines that could carry out these processes in a therapeutic way, so you could fix genetic defects, for example," said Dynan, who studies double-strand DNA breaks resulting from radiation exposure.

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