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UGA Athletic Association giving $1 million for experiential learning

The University of Georgia Athletic Association will establish a $1 million endowment to support the university’s new experiential learning initiative. The association’s board of directors approved the contribution during its spring meeting.

“The athletic association has a strong track record of supporting the university’s most important academic initiatives,” said President Jere W. Morehead, who also serves as chair of the board, “and none is more relevant to the institution right now than this initiative designed to further enhance student learning at UGA.”

The $1 million gift to establish the endowment for experiential learning will bring the athletic association’s total contribution to the university’s academic enterprise to $5 million for this fiscal year.

“We are exceptionally pleased to provide these funds that will support the experiential learning initiative,” said Greg McGarity, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics. “It is one of the university’s most important programs being developed and will be a cornerstone in the undergraduate curriculum for years to come. It’s also another way we can integrate academics and athletics on our campus, continuing the strong partnership around programs that benefit the university.”

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Tpl2 enzyme may be target for treating autoimmune diseases

New research at the University of Georgia has found that the presence of Tpl2—an enzyme that regulates inflammation—controls the activation of T cells during colitis, an autoimmune disease that occurs when the inner lining of the colon is inflamed.

Autoimmune diseases, like colitis, are estimated to affect 5 to 8 percent of the population. Side effects of colitis can include abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and diarrhea. Since there is no cure for colitis, most patients use medications to treat their symptoms. Figuring out the cause of colitis and how to cure it has challenged researchers for years.

Multiple cell types contribute to colitis development, including T cells. In this study, Nicole Acuff, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, led the research designed to see whether Tpl2, a proinflammatory enzyme known as tumor locus progression 2, contributed to colitis caused by self-reactive T cells.

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Researchers identify mechanisms linking early adversity, disease later in life

Early socioeconomic adversity, such as poverty, low education and disadvantaged community, has both direct and indirect long-term effects on young adults’ cardio-metabolic disease risk, according to researchers within the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

K.A.S. Wickrama, the Athletic Association Endowed Professor in human development and family science, and his research team explored a “resource focused model” examining the positive psychosocial resources—self-esteem, personality and educational attainment—linking adolescents’ early life experiences to young adults’ health outcomes as measured by nine bio-markers including blood pressure, blood glucose level and body mass index.

The research showed that in addition to early adversity’s direct impact on cardio-metabolic health, it also negatively influenced the development of these psychosocial resources, which, in turn, proved detrimental to disease risk, including diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or stroke.

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NHAF names UGA’s Willson Center a national model for building humanities communities

The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia has been profiled as a national model for fostering successful humanities communities as part of a new initiative by the National Humanities Alliance Foundation.

The Willson Center was selected to be the first organization profiled for the initiative after representatives of the NHAF visited UGA for the dedication of the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab in April. The Willson Center—together with Georgia Humanities, the statewide affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities—will lead the working group for the state of Georgia, the first launched under the initiative.

“The humanities are flourishing at the University of Georgia, with the Willson Center paving the way toward the future,” UGA President Jere W. Morehead said. “I am pleased that this pioneering academic center is being recognized as a national model for collaboration by the National Humanities Alliance Foundation.”

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UGA Executive MBA ranks No. 14 worldwide, according to The Economist

The Executive MBA Program at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business was ranked No. 14 worldwide by The Economist in its latest assessment.

The new ranking is a step up for Terry’s EMBA program, which was No. 22 worldwide in the previous scoring by The Economist.

“I am certainly proud that the excellence of this degree is being recognized in Georgia and around the world,” said Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College. “This ranking is a reflection of the investment and quality that our faculty put into our EMBA program, and a good indication that it truly enhances the careers of our students.”

The Economist’s rankings reflect each EMBA program’s performance in two broad categories: personal development/education experience and career development, with each category weighted equally. Terry’s EMBA program received the highest ranking among schools in Georgia and was eighth among programs based solely in the U.S.

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UGA law graduate Sally Yates confirmed as U.S. deputy attorney general

Yesterday, Sally Quillian Yates, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and a 1986 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, was confirmed as U.S. deputy attorney general.

Nominated by President Barack Obama late last year, Yates has been serving in an acting capacity in the No. 2 post at the U.S. Department of Justice. She replaced Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole.

“The university takes great pride in the significant accomplishments of our graduates,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We congratulate Sally Quillian Yates on her outstanding career and wish her well in this important role for our country.”

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Noted influenza researcher joins UGA Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center

An influenza researcher whose work focuses on the interspecies transmission and pathogenesis of the virus has joined the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine as its new Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator and Caswell Eidson Chair in Poultry Medicine.

Daniel R. Pérez is based at the college’s Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center.

“Dr. Pérez’s work on avian influenza virus interspecies transmission and control will complement a robust research effort on poultry respiratory disease viruses in the department of population health, and build on an active and successful program within the college that is focused on influenza virus surveillance, diagnosis and control. We are excited about Dr. Pérez joining our faculty,” said Mark W. Jackwood, who heads both the department and the center.

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Dale Greene named dean of UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

W. Dale Greene, a long-serving faculty member and administrator in the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, has been named its dean, effective June 1.

Greene, a professor of forest operations who joined the Warnell School in 1986, previously served as its associate dean for academic affairs and has been interim dean since January.

“I have known Dr. Greene throughout his nearly 30-year career at the University of Georgia,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Given his strong credentials as one of the institution’s top faculty members, I am confident that he has the background and understanding to lead the Warnell School into the future.”

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UGA researcher develops bird flu vaccine using virus commonly found in dogs

Researchers at the University of Georgia have used a virus commonly found in dogs as the foundation for a new vaccine against H7N9 influenza, more commonly known as bird flu.

H7N9 is one of several influenza virus strains that circulate in bird populations, and the first human cases were reported in China in March 2013, according to the World Health Organization. The H7N9 virus strain is particularly concerning, however, because most patients rapidly develop severe pneumonia that sometimes requires intensive care and mechanical ventilation.

“The mortality rate for this virus is over 30 percent, so there is an urgent need to develop a good vaccine,” said study co-author Biao He, the Fred C. Davison Distinguished University Chair in Veterinary Medicine in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We have developed a vaccine that protected both mice and guinea pigs against a lethal H7N9 challenge, and we think it may be a very strong candidate for human vaccine tests.”

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5,600-plus will join ranks of UGA alums after spring 2015 Commencement

The University of Georgia will welcome its newest class of alumni on May 8. Approximately 4,488 undergraduates and 1,179 graduate students—a total of 5,667—have met requirements to walk in the university’s spring Commencement ceremonies.

The undergraduate ceremony will include an additional 1,022 summer candidates who were invited to walk in the spring ceremony.

The undergraduate ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Sanford Stadium, and Amy Robach of “Good Morning America” will give the address.

A 1995 alumna of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Robach has been a news anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America” since March 2014. During her time at ABC News—she originally joined the network as a correspondent based in New York—she has traveled nationally and internationally to cover major news events.