Points of Pride
UGA received a total of $175.7 million in research awards, grants and contracts in fiscal year 2010. Research expenditures in FY09 totaled $349.7 million.
UGA earned $23.75 million in income from licensing agreements in 2008. The University ranked 19th in licensing income among 150 U.S. public and private universities, and 10th among public institutions, in a survey conducted by the Association of University Technology Managers.
A horticulturist at the University’s Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton developed a controlled-atmosphere storage system to extend the life of Vidalia onions. Onions stored in the facility show negligible loss of taste or firmness. Scientists estimate the storage process could quadruple the income of the 20-county Vidalia onion area.
A UGA study of fish in ponds near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster indicates the accident may have caused long-term genetic changes in wildlife. Toxicologists in the College of Pharmacy and researchers at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory analyzed the DNA of carp and found significant genetic changes in individuals many generations removed from the massive release of radioactivity in 1986.
Research in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine resulted in development of the drug RESTASIS™ to treat a disease called chronic dry eye. The disease, which affects an estimated one million people in the U.S., is characterized by insufficient production of tears and can lead to serious cornea damage. RESTASIS, which enables tear ducts to produce tears, is one of the first medicines ever developed first for veterinary use and then tested and approved for humans. It is marketed in more than 35 countries.
A team of UGA researchers has developed a diagnostic test that can detect viruses such as influenza and HIV in a minute or less. Results for such tests typically have taken anywhere from a day to a week or more. The technique, called Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, measures the change in frequency of a near-infrared laser as it scatters off viral DNA or RNA.
More than 80 UGA scientists, engineers and economists are conducting basic and applied research on using Georgia’s rich natural resources to create sustainable fuels that benefit the economy and the environment. Collaborating through the Bioenergy Systems Research Institute (BSRI), researchers are conducting fundamental research focused on finding the plants, microbes and enzymes that enable biofuels to release their energy stores easily. Other researchers are studying how such products as wastewater algae, wood chips from timber scraps, tough and fibrous plants such as miscanthus and switchgrass, and waste chicken fat from poultry processing can be processed into biofuels.
Tunnel ventilation and evaporative cooling systems for poultry houses developed and advanced at UGA are used throughout the world. The systems have saved the Georgia poultry industry alone $30 million per year.
UGA animal and dairy scientists are working to develop a method of culturing a stable stem cell line that could be used to help cure Parkinson's and other diseases and for possible treatment of spinal cord injuries. The cells, which can be directed homogeneously down neural pathways, could be used in drug discovery assays for neurological diseases, and could be used to test environmental toxins for their effects on the human neural system.
“Tif” variety grasses developed by UGA researchers are used on athletic fields and golf courses around the world.
UGA geneticists have designed a gene that, when inserted in test plants, can remove heavy metal pollutants, such as mercury and lead, from soil and render them harmless. The plants show a dramatic ability to remove toxic mercury and convert it to a relatively inert form.
UGA researchers have discovered the gene that controls a serious disease called variegate porphryia, which can cause long-term chronic health problems. The discovery will lead to a screening process to help people avoid the effects of the disease through proper treatment.
UGA researchers have found that specific patterns of brain development are linked to reading disabilities, such as dyslexia. These patterns also correlate with language and reading ability in non-reading disabled children. The research suggests that variation in brain development, possibly under strong genetic influences, may be related to the later development of language and reading skills. The study argues against the long-standing notion that reading-disabled individuals suffer from “minimal brain damage.”
UGA food scientists have developed a culture of bacteria that can prevent a harmful strain of E. coli bacteria from being transmitted in the intestinal tract of cattle. The work could eliminate the danger of E. coli infections that sicken and sometimes kill people.
The University has established a Cancer Center to coordinate numerous research and outreach programs that focus on prevention, treatment and cure of cancer. Dozens of UGA scientists and departments are involved in research on various forms of cancer. Fourteen faculty members have been designated Georgia Cancer Coalition Scholars. UGA helped create the Ovarian Cancer Institute, which searches for genetic components of this disease, and the University received a $6.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on certain kinds of cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
The College of Pharmacy has created a Center for Drug Discovery to promote research and discovery of new chemical and biological entities targeted against infectious diseases and cancer.
A UGA scientist’s study of amphibian and reptile populations in the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory that has been under way for more than 30 years is the longest-running and most complete continuous such study in the world. Pitfall traps and drift fences overseen by Dr. Whit Gibbons in the Rainbow Bay area of the SREL have been checked every day, including holidays and weekends, without fail since the project began in 1978. The project has been included in the Guinness Database of Records.
The Center for International Trade and Security was created in 1987 to promote research, teaching and service on U.S. economic and security policies. It is the leading academic program worldwide focusing on actions governments can take to restrain the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The center works closely with the U.S. and foreign governments, and research and teaching institutions in Asia, Europe and the former Soviet Union.