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UGA researchers image and measure tubulin transport in cilia

Defective cilia can lead to a host of diseases and conditions in the human body—from rare, inherited bone malformations to blindness, male infertility, kidney disease and obesity. Scientists knew that somehow these tiny cell organelles become deformed and cause these diseases because of a problem related to their assembly, which requires the translocation of vast quantities of the vital cell protein tubulin. What they didn’t know was how tubulin and another cell organelle known as flagella fit into the process.   

Now, a new study from University of Georgia cellular biologists shows the mechanism behind tubulin transport and its assembly into cilia, including the first video imagery of the process. The study was published in the Journal of Cell Biology.

“Cilia are found throughout the body, so defects in cilia formation affect cells that line airways, brain ventricles or the reproductive track,” said the study’s lead author Julie Craft, a sixth-year doctoral student at UGA. “One of the main causes of male infertility is the cilia won’t function properly.”

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UGA presents 2015 Presidents Fulfilling the Dream Award

The University of Georgia presented four awards to Athens and university community members for exemplary community service Jan. 23 as part of the 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast sponsored by UGA, the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government and the Clarke County School District.

The breakfast commemorates the life of the late civil rights leader. Held at the Grand Hall of the Tate Student Center, the event had a capacity crowd with more than 600 people in attendance.

Ricky Roberts, an academic adviser in the UGA Honors Program; Charles King, a senior education major at UGA; Lemuel “Life” LaRoche, founder of Chess and Community Conference Inc.; and Joan Prittie, executive director of Project Safe Inc. received the President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award for significant efforts to build bridges of unity and understanding as they strive to make King’s dream of equality and justice a reality.

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New model predicts Ebola epidemic in Liberia could be ended by June

The Ebola epidemic in Liberia could likely be eliminated by June 2015 if the current high rate of hospitalization and vigilance can be maintained, according to a new model developed by ecologists at the University of Georgia and Pennsylvania State University.

The model includes such factors as the location of infection and treatment, the development of hospital capacity and the adoption of safe burial practices and is “probably the first to include all those elements,” said John Drake, an associate professor in the UGA Odum School of Ecology who led the project. The study appears in the open access journal PLOS Biology Jan. 13.

Drake said that the UGA model should be useful to public health officials as they continue to combat the Ebola epidemic because it offers both general insights and realistic forecasts, something few models are able to do.

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Grant supports UGAs continued fight against infectious disease

The University of Georgia Research Foundation has received an additional $710,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its research into the elimination of schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease affecting millions of people throughout most of Africa and some of Asia, the Middle East and the Americas to include studies on control and elimination of intestinal worms that infect almost 2 billion people globally.

This grant adds to the more than $22 million in support awarded to UGA by the Gates Foundation since 2008, when researchers in the Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation, or SCORE, began looking for ways to gain control of and ultimately eliminate the disease that causes more than an estimated 200,000 deaths per year in sub-Saharan Africa alone, according to the World Health Organization.

“We’ve made great progress in our understanding of this disease and what must be done to stop it,” said Dan Colley, director of UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases and principal investigator for the project. “This latest supplement will expand our research to include parallel studies on the debilitating and even more widespread soil-transmitted helminthes, round worm, whipworm and hookworms, and it will carry the project forward to 2018.”

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UGA to celebrate 230th anniversary with series of Founders Day event

The University of Georgia will observe its 230th anniversary in 2015, and the UGA Alumni Association will celebrate the occasion by hosting a weeklong series of events, including the 13th annual Founders Day Lecture on Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in the Chapel.

Paul M. Kurtz, associate dean and professor emeritus for the UGA School of Law, will present the lecture, titled “A New York Yankee in Abraham Baldwin’s Court: (Almost) Fifty Years Behind 'Enemy' Lines.”

“Like Abraham Baldwin, I am a Yankee who has experienced life on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line,” said Kurtz. “On this Founders Day, as we commemorate his role in the establishment of the university which has been my home for most of my life, I look forward to sharing my reflections on the journey I have taken since my arrival in the South in 1964.”

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UGAs Odum School of Ecology to hold graduate student symposium Jan. 16-17

The 21st annual Graduate Student Symposium at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology will be held Friday, Jan. 16 and Saturday, Jan. 17 in the ecology auditorium. A showcase for student research, the symposium is free and open to the public.

The symposium, which is organized and run by Odum School graduate students, provides an opportunity for ecology students at all levels to give professional presentations about their original research.

This year’s event features 35 oral presentations by graduate students and 11 posters by undergraduates. Oral presentations will take place Jan. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Undergraduate poster sessions will be held Jan. 16 from 12-2 p.m. and 4:45-7 p.m. in the Odum School’s lobby.

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Former judge Glenda Hatchett to deliver 2015 Holmes-Hunter Lecture at UGA

Glenda Hatchett, best-known for her nationally syndicated show “Judge Hatchett” and now a senior attorney with the Hatchett Firm, will deliver the 2015 Holmes-Hunter Lecture Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. in the University of Georgia Chapel.

Hatchett, a former chief presiding judge of the Fulton County Juvenile Court, was the first African-American chief presiding judge of a state court in Georgia and head of one of the largest juvenile court systems in the country. She left her post in Fulton County to preside over her two-time Emmy nominated show, “Judge Hatchett,” for 13 seasons. “Judge Hatchett” won a Prism Award for Best Unscripted Non-Fiction Series or Special for Television.

A graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and the Emory University School of Law, Hatchett completed a federal clerkship in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia. She then spent nearly 10 years at Delta Air Lines, where she was the airline’s highest-ranking woman of color worldwide, serving both as senior attorney and public relations manager. She left the corporation to work in Fulton County.

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Retired UGA professor Gary Bertsch will receive the 2015 UGA Presidents Medal during Founders Day

Retired University of Georgia professor Gary Bertsch will receive the 2015 UGA President’s Medal during Founders Day activities in January.

The President’s Medal recognizes extraordinary contributions of former employees who have supported students and academic programs, advanced research and inspired community leaders to enhance Georgians’ quality of life.

Bertsch served on the UGA faculty from 1969-2010. After serving as an undergraduate adviser in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and undergraduate director and graduate director in the political science department, he became the founding director in 1987 of the Center for International Trade and Security, a UGA-based program conducting international research, teaching and outreach to promote economic prosperity, international peace and security. CITS is recognized worldwide and has generated more than $30 million in external funding.

He was designated a University Professor in 1995, the highest recognition of his endeavors on behalf of the university’s mission. He served on the board of trustees of the University of Georgia Foundation from 1994-2004 and the board of directors of the University of Georgia Research Foundation from 1987-1997.

“Dr. Bertsch has been a wonderful member of the University of Georgia community for more than 45 years, and he has made significant contributions to the institution,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “His commitment to the university’s core missions of teaching, research and service are evident in the many accolades he has earned during his distinguished career. This latest recognition is well deserved.”

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UGA researchers awarded grant to study impact of painkiller abuse policies

State policies that curb the abuse of opioid prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin may be having some unintended side effects—and hurting those who need the medications the most.

Researchers in the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs are using a $150,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to evaluate whether prescription drug monitoring programs in place in most states are keeping patients who need opioids from receiving them. The grant program, through the foundation’s Public Health Law Research program, is designed to provide funding for studies that analyze or evaluate laws and their effect on public health.

“With prescription drug monitoring programs covering nearly every state, they have the potential to have a widespread effect on people’s access to important therapies for pain, yet no one has analyzed the relationship between the monitoring programs and pain management,” said Courtney Yarbrough, a second year doctoral student in the department of public administration and policy. “The grant gives us the opportunity to explore the implications of these laws in detail and to provide objective information to policymakers and states as they continue to update their programs.”

Yarbrough and W. David Bradford, the George D. Busbee Chair in Public Policy in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, are collaborators on the grant.

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UGA launches crowdfunding platform, exceeds goal for #GivingTuesday

The University of Georgia recently launched a new crowdfunding platform called the GeorgiaFunder, which aims to raise relatively small donations from a large group of people to directly benefit UGA programs and organizations.

The pilot crowdfunding initiative exceeded its goals on #GivingTuesday, a national day of philanthropy Dec. 2., by raising more than $29,000 from 220 donors. The effort exceeded the day’s goal of $25,000 and more than doubled last year’s amount. Gifts will benefit university-wide initiatives, school or college support funds or other specific interests.

The GeorgiaFunder is modeled after other Web-based commercial services such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These initiatives rely on social networks and can spread quickly through social media, e-mail, websites and other grassroots forms of communications.

Learn more about UGA crowdfunding initiatives at giving.uga.edu/funder.