From the EditorMarch 2004: Vol. 83, No. 2

ne of the challenges of editing a quarterly magazine is covering events that occur late in our production cycle. Case in point: the dedication of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center on Feb. 11. This column was the only part of GM we could hold open for that event, which featured remarks by CCRC co-directors Peter Albersheim and Alan Darvill.

These two scientists have been together since 1976, when Darvill joined Albersheim’s research team at the University of Colorado. Several years later, when they were looking for a home for the new research center they envisioned, UGA won out over a dozen institutions they considered.

Tom Cousins (BBA ’52) put the significance of that move in perspective by telling “a tale of two Petes” at the dedication ceremony. One was LSU basketball star “Pistol Pete” Maravich, who delivered a rock-the-Coliseum shooting display against the Dogs in ’68. At the time, Atlanta had no pro basketball arena and Cousins, who was among the business leaders interested in building one, reasoned that landing a superstar like Pistol Pete would help accomplish the project. Not long afterwards, Atlanta convinced the St. Louis Hawks (who drafted Maravich) to move their franchise to Atlanta—and soon thereafter the Omni was built.
Darvill (center) and Albersheim cut CCRC ribbon with help from Jo Ann Chitty, president of the Real Estate Foundation.
Darvill (center) and Albersheim cut CCRC ribbon with help from Jo Ann Chitty, president of the Real Estate Foundation.
Cousins also served on the board of Rockefeller University and was mindful of the millions of dollars in federal research funds the institution received. UGA was not in the same league. What we needed, he reasoned, was a research superstar a la Maravich—which is where the other Pete comes into play. When word reached UGA that renowned scientist Peter Albersheim was considering leaving the University of Colorado, Cousins put together a package to recruit him to UGA. That investment has paid off handsomely. The CCRC has landed nearly $95 million in external funding since its inception 1985—principally from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The original 16-member research group has grown to more than 200 scientists, staff, and students at the new facility on Riverbend Road. Among those who have joined the team is Jim Prestegard (see p. 28), who received $5 million to purchase a key piece of equipment to support CCRC research. His 900-megahertz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer is one of the few being installed around the world and it will be used in research collaborations with scientists at 18 other institutions.

CCRC benefits extend beyond research dollars. Ask James Atwood, who is earning his doctorate at UGA and working with CCRC scientist Ron Orlando on research involving the structures of glycoproteins. Atwood got involved with the CCRC as an undergraduate and was amazed at the degree to which students were allowed to participate in research. “Everyone at the CCRC is always so supportive of students,” said Atwood at the dedication ceremony. “They believe that if we’re tested, we can rise to the occasion.”

That, evidently, is a consistent CCRC theme.

Kent Hannon

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