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UGA researchers receives $1 million for cryptosporidium research

Researchers at the University of Georgia have received $1 million from the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to speed the development of new drugs for the treatment of cryptosporidiosis, a major cause of diarrheal disease and mortality in young children around the world.

Cryptosporidiosis is caused by cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite commonly spread through tainted drinking or recreational water. There is currently no vaccine and only a single drug of modest efficacy available to treat cryptosporidiosis.

"Cryptosporidiosis is a tremendous public health challenge," said Boris Striepen, Distinguished Research Professor in Cellular Biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and a member of UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. "We are extremely grateful to the Trust and the Foundation for providing generous support and leadership to drive a global research agenda to face this challenge."

Cryptosporidium is notoriously difficult to study in the laboratory, and this has stalled the development of better treatments. But earlier this year, Striepen and his research group created new tools to genetically manipulate the parasite, and his team will use funds from the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation to leverage this new technology and speed drug discovery.

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UGA researchers join NSFs South Big Data Hub

University of Georgia researchers will participate in a new initiative developed by the National Science Foundation called the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub, which aims to solve some of the nation's most pressing research and development challenges related to extracting knowledge and insights from large, complex collections of digital data.

Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina's Renaissance Computing Institute, members of the South Big Data Hub will engage businesses and research organizations in their region to develop common big data goals that would be impossible for individual members to achieve alone. Other hubs will operate in the Northeast, Midwest and Western U.S.

"The U.S. has the opportunity to lead the world in the application of big data to a variety of problems of critical importance," said Jim Kurose, NSF's assistant head of computer and information science and engineering. "The (Big Data) Hubs program represents a unique approach to improving the impact of data science by breaking through silos and establishing partnerships among likeminded stakeholders. In doing so, it enables leading scholars and institutions to develop collaborations that will accelerate progress in a wide range of scientific, educational and social and economic domains with the potential for great societal benefit."

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UGA law grad confirmed as vice chancellor on the Delaware Court of Chancery

Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, a 2006 cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, was unanimously confirmed by the Delaware Senate on Oct. 28 as a vice chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, which is the most important and prestigious court for business law in the United States.

Nominated by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Montgomery-Reeves is the first African-American in the 220-plus-year history of the court to serve as a vice chancellor. She is also only the court's second female vice chancellor.

"Given the great importance of the Delaware Court of Chancery, the law school is quite proud that one of our graduates will be serving our nation in this capacity," Georgia Law Dean Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge said. "Approximately 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in the state of Delaware, and this, quite simply, makes it the most important court in America for corporate law. As a result, other states often look to Delaware for guidance in matters of corporate law.

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Arthur Tripp Jr. named assistant to the president at UGA

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead will welcome Arthur Tripp Jr. to his staff on Nov. 11 as assistant to the president. Tripp currently serves as senior policy adviser for Rep. David Scott, who represents Georgia's 13th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

"I am very pleased that Arthur is joining our staff," Morehead said. "His extensive involvement as a student leader at UGA and his significant professional experience on Capitol Hill have prepared him well for this important position. He will be an outstanding addition to the president's office, and I look forward to his contributions."

In his new role as assistant to the president, Tripp's primary responsibilities will be focused on student affairs and diversity relations. He also will serve as the liaison to the Staff Council, Retirees Association and Board of Visitors, as well as represent the Office of the President in the planning of several annual campus events.

"It is truly an honor to join the Office of the President," Tripp said. "There is no greater privilege than to serve the administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni of UGA as assistant to the president. I look forward to supporting President Morehead and his vision for this great institution."

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School of Law leads in bar exam passage rate

The University of Georgia School of Law saw a higher percentage of its graduates pass the July 2015 administration of the state bar exam than any other law school in the state. UGA led both public and private law schools with regard to first-time takers and overall exam takers.

"Our highest priority as a law school is to provide students with the knowledge and experience they need to be successful in their careers. These results send a clear signal that we are achieving that goal," Georgia Law Dean Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge said. "I want to commend our faculty for their dedication to first-rate legal training and our students for their commitment to learning- both of which greatly factor into success on the exam."

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Debate teams win Vanderbilt college debate tournament

The Georgia Debate Union, which organizes and fields competitive policy debate teams at the University of Georgia, emerged victorious at the 2015 Vanderbilt intercollegiate debate tournament held in Nashville, Tennessee. The tournament featured over 50 teams from nearly 20 colleges and universities. Two teams representing the Georgia Debate Union "closed out" in finals, meaning they won each respective side of their elimination round brackets and tied for first place at the tournament.

Teams from the same school typically do not debate each other.

The team of Tucker Boyce, a junior from Alpharetta, and Nathan Rice, a freshman from Roswell, won every one of its debates at the tournament, including wins over Emory University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Kentucky and the University of Florida. Boyce earned first speaker at the tournament, while Rice earned second speaker.

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UGA sets record high freshman retention rate

The University of Georgia has set a record in a key measure of student success: Its freshman retention rate increased by a full percentage point from 2014 to 2015 to reach 95.2 percent.

The freshman retention rate measures the percentage of a school's first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at that school the next year. The national average for public, four-year institutions is 80 percent, and UGA's 95 percent retention rate places it among the nation's top universities in this measure.

"We continue to invest in faculty, staff and innovative programs to ensure that students at Georgia's flagship university have an unparalleled learning experience," said President Jere W. Morehead. "Our high retention rate is one sign that these investments are having a positive impact on student success."

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Researchers discover mechanism that could lead to better ovarian cancer treatment

Resistance to chemotherapy is a major problem for those suffering from ovarian cancer—a problem that prevents a cure from a disease dubbed the "silent killer." University of Georgia researchers are giving patients new hope with recent findings that help pinpoint the mechanisms causing chemoresistance.

Over the last five years, UGA College of Pharmacy associate professors Mandi Murph and Shelley Hooks have discovered that a type of protein known as RGS10 impacts the effectiveness of ovarian cancer chemotherapy. Murph also discovered that mTOR signaling, a protein encoded by the mTOR gene, drives the effects of RGS10.

Resistance to chemotherapy that was previously very effective is a major roadblock that prevents better outcomes in this disease. Finding mTOR as the mechanism of RGS10's effects could help explain the unique features of chemoresistant cancer cells.

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UGA only university in nation with two recipients of Beckman Award for teaching excellence

Two University of Georgia professors-Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander in the Terry College of Business and Melisa "Misha" Cahnmann-Taylor in the College of Education-are among 10 professors nationwide to be honored with a 2015 Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for teaching excellence.

The award honors faculty members "who have inspired their former students to make a significant contribution to society," and UGA is the only university in the nation with two 2015 recipients. Bennett-Alexander and Cahnmann-Taylor will each receive a $25,000 award and will be honored at a Nov. 14 ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta.

"To have two winners of the Beckman Award in the same year is an outstanding accomplishment for the university," said President Jere W. Morehead.

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Georgia Writers Hall of Fame to induct four new members Nov. 9

The environment and civil rights will be the focus of this year's Georgia Writers Hall of Fame ceremony events Nov. 8 and 9 at the University of Georgia.

Taylor Branch and Janisse Ray will be inducted into the hall Nov. 9, along with posthumous honorees Vereen Bell and Paul Hemphill. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. All events are in the auditorium of the UGA Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.

"The Georgia Writers Hall of Fame celebrates our state's literary tradition, and this year we are proud to induct four outstanding Georgia writers," said Toby Graham, university librarian and associate provost. Branch is best known for his landmark history of the civil rights era. Ray's writing is deeply influenced by the natural world. Bell's fiction first brought the Okefenokee Swamp into the national consciousness, and Paul Hemphill explored themes related to the working class South.

"Our programming will focus on the topics of civil rights and the environment, ones that connect this year's inductees and that are of particular relevance to Georgia," Graham said.