Five University of Georgia-affiliated companies and programs will be recognized with awards from Georgia Bio, the association for Georgia’s life sciences industry, at its 2020 annual awards dinner on March 13.
Georgia Bio is a membership-based, nonprofit organization that works to improve access to innovative technologies and grow Georgia’s life sciences economy. Example sectors of the life sciences industry include biopharmaceuticals, biotechnology, global health, digital health, bio-agriculture, medical devices and research institutes. Georgia Bio members include companies, government groups, research institutions, universities and other businesses interested in promoting and nurturing products and services related to life sciences.
The organization presented awards to Infrared RX, the Poultry Diagnostic & Research Center, the Center for Vaccines and Immunology, ArunA Bio and Danimer Scientific.
“Improving human and animal health is a vital aspect of UGA’s land-grant mission,” said Derek Eberhart, associate vice president for research and executive director of Innovation Gateway, UGA’s research commercialization program. “This recognition affirms the impact of UGA research on our state’s rapidly growing life science industry and highlights the university’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Infrared RX, an Athens-based biotech company, received an Innovation Award, which recognizes a department, institution, company or individuals for outside-the-box technology. Founded by UGA professor Kevin McCully (Mary Frances Early College of Education) and professor and cardiologist Jonathan Murrow (Augusta University/UGA Medical Partnership), Infrared RX develops non-invasive tools to measure oxygen use in muscle to improve wellness across a broad spectrum of disabling conditions, including peripheral artery disease.
“We are honored to be recognized with this award as our team works to make this important technology more widely available to researchers and others interested in improving health,” Murrow said.
The Poultry Diagnostic & Research Center received a Community Award, which is awarded to companies, individuals or institutions who contribute to the state’s life sciences community. The PDRC comprises 17 faculty members and 16 graduate students who help advance poultry medicine throughout Georgia and beyond, consulting with poultry producers around the world and conducting research focused on solving problems important to the poultry industry.
“It was a complete surprise and a tremendous honor to learn that the Poultry Diagnostic & Research Center was selected to receive the Georgia Bio Community Award,” said Mark Jackwood, director of the PDRC. “All of the faculty, staff and students at the PDRC work hard every day to serve the $22 billion poultry industry in Georgia and to fulfill our research, teaching and service missions. We are thrilled to receive such a high level of special recognition by Georgia Bio.”
Deal of the Year Awards were presented to three UGA-affiliated organizations and programs. The award recognizes transactions made by life sciences companies such as financings, partnering agreements and government grants that contribute to the development of the state’s life sciences industry.
The Center for Vaccines and Immunology earned its Deal of the Year Award for its contract with the National Institutes of Health to develop a universal flu vaccine. Headed by GRA Eminent Scholar Ted Ross, the project could receive up to $130 million in funding over seven years.
Aruna Bio, a biotechnology company, received a Deal of the Year Award for raising $13 million to advance a new class of biologics targeting central nervous system disorders. Based in Athens, Aruna Bio’s neural exosome research is headed by GRA Eminent Scholar Steve Stice, who serves as its chief scientific officer and directs UGA’s Regenerative Bioscience Center.
Danimer Scientific, a biotechnology company, with an R&D lab in UGA’s Innovation Gateway incubator, that focuses on creating sustainable plastic products, was recognized with a Deal of the Year Award for its $6.5 million investment from Advantage Capital through the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act.
Georgia Bio will hold its annual awards gala on March 13 at Factory Atlanta in Chamblee, Georgia.