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September 25, 2017   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | University becomes major partner in research consortium
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Steven Stice

University becomes major partner in research consortium

Charlene Betourney

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Regenerative Bioscience CenterCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
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By Charlene Betourney | September 25, 2017
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Steven Stice is leading researchers at the University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience Center in a newly funded research consortium designed to hasten the development of advanced cell therapies for a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

With $20 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies, dubbed CMaT, will bring together RBC researchers, industry partners, clinicians, engineers, cell biologists and immunologists.

"Partnerships of this nature-that span different universities and sectors-are critical to advancing human health around the world," said UGA President Jere W. Morehead, "and I want to congratulate Dr. Stice and his team at the University of Georgia for helping to drive this important research center."

The flow of innovative ideas and techniques from this regional "manufacturing hub" based at the Georgia Institute of Technology could create a pipeline of therapies and lifetime cures for an aging population challenged by escalating chronic diseases.

Georgia Tech is able to host this research thanks in part to a previous gift of $16 million from the Atlanta-based Marcus Foundation to build a research center for therapeutic cell characterization and manufacturing. Additional funding from the Georgia Research Alliance and Georgia Tech sources bring the total investment in the center to $23 million.

"The support of the Georgia Research Alliance and investments by the University of Georgia in talented faculty members who are committed to working with colleagues across the state and beyond is cementing Georgia's reputation as a hub of research activity," said UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten.

UGA is one of three major partners, including the University of Wisconsin and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, as well as affiliate partners such as the University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, the Gladstone Institutes and Michigan Technological University. Additional international academic partners, as well as industry and the U.S. national laboratories, also will be critical to this large-scale, collaborative effort.

CMaT's vision is to bring together a diverse group of scientists who can yield new levels of efficiency and productivity to make cell therapies more affordable and, therefore, more accessible.

UGA's College of Engineering Dean Donald J. Leo noted the benefits of the partnership for CMaT.

"The distance between discovery and delivery is dramatically shrinking," said Leo. "Now is the time to bring people with different expertise together to work as one—something we're all really excited about."

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