Georgia Bio honors Emory president with Industry Growth Award

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Jan. 26, 2012

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Holly Korschun
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hkorsch@emory.edu

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James Wagner, President, Emory University

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Georgia Bio has awarded Emory University President James Wagner with its 2012 Industry Growth Award, the organization’s highest annual honor. The award recognizes individuals in the public and private sectors who have made extraordinary contributions to the growth of Georgia’s life sciences industry.

Wagner was honored at the GaBio Annual Awards Dinner, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, along with Edward J. Schutter, president and CEO of Arbor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Georgia Bio is a private, non-profit association representing the state’s life sciences industry.

Wagner was honored “for his leadership in helping transform Emory University into one of the top life sciences research universities in the world, attracting and producing some of the world’s finest health sciences leaders. Discoveries of new technologies at Emory have led to important licenses and have generated numerous companies, adding to the growth of Georgia’s life sciences industry. These companies, in turn, have succeeded in commercializing life-saving medicines and devices that improve the health and well being of people in Georgia and around the world.”

Wagner also serves as vice chair of the United States Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. As a national thought leader, he brings Emory and Georgia to the forefront in significant issues related to the bioscience industry and its fight against society’s most debilitating and challenging diseases.

Biomedical research at Emory is supported by substantial and sustained funding by federal agencies, industry partnerships and philanthropic support. In 2011 Emory received $539.7 million in external research funding, including more than $318 million from the National Institutes of Health.

“President Wagner’s leadership has helped propel Emory into the top ranks of research institutions, including those capable of translating fundamental discoveries into drugs and devices that save and extend lives while at the same time generating funds for continued research at Emory and economic development for Georgia,” says David Wynes, PhD, vice president for research administration, Emory University.

In a 2011 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Emory was cited as the nation's fourth leading contributor to drug discovery among U.S. public-sector institutions, based in part on lifesaving HIV/AIDS drugs and their combinations that are used by 94 percent of U.S. patients on therapy and by thousands more globally.

Through its Office of Technology Transfer, Emory currently manages over 1,000 technologies invented by its scientists and physicians.  The management of its inventions has led to the formation of 57 new companies and the introduction of 50 new products to market, some of which, like its discovery of several HIV drugs, have had major societal impact.  Royalties earned from sales of new products by Emory licensees have resulted in more than $788 million that has been used to subsidize additional scientific research and education at the university.

An award-winning teacher and scientist, Wagner became the 19th president of Emory on Sept. 1, 2003. Before joining Emory he served as dean, provost and interim president of Case Western Reserve University and as a faculty member at The Johns Hopkins University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1975 from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in clinical engineering in 1978 from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a PhD in materials science and engineering from Johns Hopkins in 1984.

Emory PhD candidate honored as Emerging Leader of the Year

Georgia Bio also honored Emory University PhD candidate Valerie Truax as Emerging Leader of the Year. The Emerging Leader of the Year award honors young professionals for outstanding contributions to the success of the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) and the growth of Georgia’s life sciences community. Truax received her MBA degree from Emory’s Goizueta Business School in fall 2010. In her PhD program she is involved in the discovery of novel piperidine and piperazine CXCR4 antagonists in the laboratory of Professors Dennis C. Liotta and James P. Snyder in Emory’s Department of Chemistry.

Emory startup company recognized for a "Deal of the Year"

Georgia Bio recognized NeurOp of Atlanta, a biopharmaceutical company developing new medicines to treat central nervous system disorders including major depression, neuropathic pain, ischemia, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease for a “Deal of the Year”. NeurOp was awarded a $3.1 million U44  Phase I/II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in 2011 from the National Institutes of Health to support the company’s research program for ischemia. NeurOp will use the funding to advance its lead molecule to an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing for the treatment of subarachnoid hemorrhage and eventually for those patients at risk of acute stroke. NeurOp was founded by Emory pharmacologists Raymond Dingledine and Stephen Traynelis and Duke neurologist James McNamara.

Community Award goes to Task Force for Global Health

Georgia Bio’s Community Awards included the Task Force for Global Health, an Emory-affiliated center that includes faculty, staff and students from Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, with a common global health mission.