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UGA launches program to close enrollment gap for African-American males

The University of Georgia Office of Institutional Diversity has launched the African American Male Initiative, a program targeted at enrolling, retaining and graduating African-American males.

The program, which is funded by a $10,000 grant from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and part of a larger network of African-American male initiatives in the system, is co-directed by the Office of Institutional Diversity and the Division of Student Affairs. These offices will jointly administer the grant.

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Georgia Museum of Art at UGA collects awards from Southeastern Museums Conference

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia won five awards at this year's Southeastern Museums Conference annual meeting, held earlier this month in Savannah.

The museum received two gold awards for publications this year. Facet, the museum's quarterly newsletter, designed by local firm The Adsmith, took home the gold award in the newsletters and calendar of events category for the second year in a row. The second gold was given to "The Kress Project," the publication resulting from the museum's juried online exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the museum's Kress Study Collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings. The Kress Project was designed by MacFadden & Thorpe, of San Francisco

The museum's biggest fundraiser, Elegant Salute, received a silver award in the campaigns category for its invitation materials, designed by Michael Lachowski, who also handles public relations for the museum.

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Hatchling sea turtle Rider to be on view at Skidaway Marine Science Day

Visitors to the Skidaway Marine Science Day will be able to catch a rare glimpse of Rider, the University of Georgia Aquarium's new hatchling loggerhead sea turtle, on Oct. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Held on the north end of Skidaway Island, the free event will include behind-the-scenes tours of the aquarium, opportunities to explore research vessels and hands-on science activities.

The event is jointly presented by the UGA Aquarium and UGA Shellfish Laboratory, which are both part of Marine Extension, a public service and outreach unit of UGA, and by the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and the Nature Conservancy.

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Statin, osteoporosis drug combo may help treat parasitic infections

Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered that a combination of two commonly prescribed drugs used to treat high cholesterol and osteoporosis may serve as the foundation of a new treatment for toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. They published their findings recently in PLOS Pathogens.

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite capable of infecting nearly all warm-blooded animals. While healthy human adults usually suffer no lasting ill effects from infection, it can be harmful or fatal to unborn fetuses or those with weakened immune systems.

"For many years, therapies for toxoplasmosis have focused on drugs that target only the parasite," said Silvia Moreno, senior author of the article and professor of cellular biology in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "But in this paper, we show how we can hit the parasite with two drugs simultaneously, one that affects body chemistry in the host and one that affects the parasite."

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UGA researcher develops new medicine that attacks HIV before it integrates with human DNA

Thirty-four million people are living with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, worldwide and each year some 2.5 million more are infected, according to the World Health Organization.

New medicine developed at the University of Georgia attacks the virus before it integrates with human DNA, understood by researchers as the point of no return.

"In our laboratories, we have discovered a highly potent HIV integrase inhibitor, or blocker, aimed at the ‘point of no return' in HIV infectivity," said Nair, who is the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Drug Discovery in the UGA College of Pharmacy. "This inhibitor is highly effective against many variations of HIV."

According to Nair, HIV integrase is an ideal target for drug therapy because it is essential for viral replication, and there is no human counterpart, which means there is a low risk of side effects.

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UGA team developing Web tool to improve young students literacy skills

A team of University of Georgia College of Education professors is developing a Web-based tool to improve young students' literacy skills thanks to a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The specific aim of the grant is to support underachieving writers from low-income backgrounds, English language learners, students with a range of learning disabilities and those for whom initial motivation in writing or engaged writing is a problem.

The new literacy tool, PersuadeMe, is designed to help students in grades 4-8 engage in writing and arguments on issues that interest them.

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Private-public partnership to grow local agriculture, economy in Fulton County

A diverse agricultural hub is thriving just minutes from downtown Atlanta in the area surrounding the city of Chattahoochee Hills. To help with the growth, University of Georgia Extension recently developed a new position for a Fulton County agriculture and natural resources agent.

On Oct. 1, Todd Leeson started work under a collaborative funding agreement between UGA, UGA Extension and the Chattahoochee Hill Country Conservancy—the first of its kind for the university. The joint program's goal is to return sustainable agriculture to a good portion of the locally protected green space—an area where 70 percent of the community's 35,000 acres is to be preserved from commercial and residential growth—and to demonstrate the many levels of economic development that can be derived from local food production.

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New study shows use of tools supports learning in nonhuman species

Leave young children alone with a soccer ball or a plastic shovel, and they quickly begin to put the object to use, especially if they've observed adults kicking the ball or using the shovel to dig a hole.

A new study from a group of researchers, led by University of Georgia behavioral scientist Dorothy Fragaszy, reports that artifacts—objects similar to the ball or shovel—are an important component in technical learning by nonhuman species. The study, published Oct. 7 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, documents the work of two groups of researchers investigating cases of habitual tool use in wild chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys.

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UGA receives designation as Innovation and Economic Prosperity University

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has designated the University of Georgia an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University. UGA is one of only 16 universities in the nation to receive the designation.

The new APLU designation acknowledges universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.