Category Archives: Research

Study provides new treatment targets for deadly brain swelling

[Click here to read this story on Jagwire.]

High-efficiency transporters that work like a shuttle system to constantly move ions into and out of neurons appear to slam into reverse following a stroke or other injury and start delivering instead too much water, scientists have found.

It’s called spreading depolarization, a wave of death that can follow a stroke or traumatic brain injury, as neurons and their extensions, called dendrites, become bloated, dysfunctional and vulnerable, said Dr. Sergei Kirov, neuroscientist in the Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Human Brain Lab at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

While swelling is clearly a result of trauma to the brain, just how water gets into neurons was largely a mystery.

In a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, Kirov and his colleagues report that a handful of these ion transporters – known to tote some combination of sodium, potassium and chloride – appear to be a missing link in how excess water gets inside.

“They act as molecular water pumps. This is a new way of thinking,” said Kirov. He and Dr. Nanna MacAulay, associate professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen, are co-corresponding authors on the study, which is highlighted in the journal. These transporters also provide new drug targets for treating deadly edema.

Some water is routinely needed by neurons to carry out basic metabolic functions, but despite what some medical textbooks say, neurons are not freely permeable to water, Kirov said. “You need some molecular mechanism for water to enter or leave,” he said. The transporters, which are known to snatch up water and ions from outside the neuron, appeared a plausible option to Kirov.

At rest, neurons have a lot of potassium inside and a lot of sodium outside. This differential distribution of ions polarizes the neuron, creating a negative electrical charge inside. The unequal amount of sodium and potassium inside and outside is actively maintained through the operation of sodium-potassium pumps.

The differential distribution of sodium and potassium also is essential for neurons to generate electrical signals, called action potential, and communicate with other neurons or cells so humans and animals can think or move or otherwise function.

When action potential is generated, a neuron goes through a process called depolarization, which alters its electrical charge so it becomes positive inside. Sodium channels open and small amounts of sodium move inside and channels rapidly close. The whole thing happens mega-rapidly.

During the repolarization that follows, the opposite happens: potassium channels open and small amounts of potassium move out of the neuron and those channels close. Once again, the sodium-potassium pumps push the ions back in their correct location. It’s a continuous, efficient process in the healthy brain.

But a traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain bleed or even a migraine can result in unrelenting, pathological spreading depolarization in which large amounts of sodium move inside and large amounts of potassium move out of neurons. Sodium-potassium pumps quickly get overwhelmed trying to straighten things out and neurons and their extensions, called dendrites rapidly find themselves in trouble.

While a swollen ankle may be uncomfortable, a swelling brain can quickly become deadly in the closed confines of the skull. “The normal balance of potassium and sodium during spreading depolarization is almost completely off so the normal function of the cell is off and it is at increased risk of dying,” Kirov said.

Kirov’s team used powerful two-photon laser scanning microscopy to study the function of transporters in slices of mouse brain and in mice. They watched the spreading depolarization and resulting swelling and documented how the edema was dramatically diminished by drugs that blocked the action of the transporters.

He notes that drugs he used in the lab can’t be used in humans, but like the transporters, they provide direction. “We need to develop better agents that will be safe in human patients that we can give for a short period of time and reduce swelling,” Kirov said of next steps in the research. Today, in severe cases of brain swelling, neurosurgeons will remove a piece of the skull to give the brain more room and ideally reduce permanent damage.

Kirov notes that astrocytes, another brain cell type that support neurons, have natural water channels, called aquaporins, so that water typically can more easily move in and out, but neurons don’t have these well-defined channels. “That was the puzzle,” Kirov said.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and the Thorberg’s Foundation.

Need to Know: Upcoming Deadlines – September 25

Upcoming Deadlines


Order December Graduation Regalia Now
Students who are eligible to participate in the December 2015 graduation ceremonies should order their graduation regalia and announcements before October 4, 2015. Please visit www.gru.edu/jagstore to order your regalia items online.

Spring 2016 Graduation Applications
Spring graduation applications are due to the Registrar’s Office by October 12. Please use this link to apply.

Spring 2016 Admission to Teacher Education
Applications for Spring 2016 admissions to Teacher Education are due no later than 5:00 PM November 15, 2015. Important links to details and applications are available here.

Upcoming CURS Brown Bag Seminars

The mission of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS) is to promote and support research, scholarship and creative activity at the undergraduate level. From the very beginning, CURS has made great strides to see that members of our undergraduate population are afforded multiple opportunities to advance themselves in both a creative and scholarly fashion.

CursBrownBagOne way they’ve accomplished this is through the hosting of Brown Bag Research Seminars for undergraduate research.

These seminars, hosted on select Fridays throughout the semester, give students a chance to flex their research muscles and show off their hard.

Each session will be held at 1 p.m. in the JSAC Ballroom. Free pizza will be provided for every event, but guests are also welcome to bring their own lunches.

For more information about CURS Brown Bag Research Seminars, call the Center for Undergraduate Research at 706-729-2094 or visit gru.edu/curs.

To view a listing of upcoming Brown Bag Seminars, click the flyer above.

Frontline treatments show best results for unexplained infertility

A breast cancer drug with promise for improving the chance that couples with unexplained infertility can have a baby without increasing their risk of multiple births apparently does not deliver, according to a comparative study.

“The question was could we reduce the risk of twins and triplets without negatively impacting the total number of women who can conceive?” said Dr. Michael P. Diamond, reproductive endocrinologist and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers showed pregnancy rates and live birth rates were significantly lower in women treated with letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor that enables ovulation, than those receiving the frontline drugs gonadotropin or clomiphene. As an example, live birth rates were 32.3 percent in women taking gonadotropin and 18.7 percent with letrozole.

The cancer drug has been used off-label for infertility for several years because of anecdotal reports that it could help women conceive with less risk of multiple births. Diamond participated in another study published last summer, also in NEJM, that showed letrozole was better than clomiphene at improving rates of ovulation, conception, pregnancy and live birth in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS affects 5-10 percent of reproductive-age women whose major infertility problem is that they don’t ovulate.

But letrozole’s success in women with PCOS does not hold up when the cause of infertility is unclear. While patients with unexplained infertility taking letrozole did have a significantly lower number of multiple births than those taking gonadotropins, those rates were comparable to clomiphene, said Diamond, the new study’s corresponding author. Letrozole therapy did result in a significantly reduced number of multiple births compared with gonadotropin, but its rates were two-and-a-half times higher than clomiphene’s.

“The conclusion for couples with unexplained infertility is that clomiphene probably still remains the first-line therapy,” Diamond said of the widely used drug that enables production of more eggs and the hormones that support them.

Women taking gonadotropin, which is given by shot rather than by tablet like the other two drugs, had the highest rate of pregnancy and live births, but it also had the highest multiple birth rate, Diamond noted. Gonadotropin therapy resulted in 24 sets of twins and 10 sets of triples. Letrozole and clomiphene therapy produced only twins, which generally result in fewer complications during pregnancy and after birth than triplets. There were no significant differences among the three treatment arms in resulting birth defects or newborn complications.

The study looked at 900 women age 18 to 40 with unexplained infertility at 12 centers across the nation through the Cooperative Reproductive Medicine Network of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

A third of patients were randomly assigned to receive up to four cycles of ovarian stimulation with gonadotropin, clomiphene or letrozole; there was no placebo group. Researchers obtained an investigational new drug application with the Food and Drug Administration for the study since letrozole is currently only approved for breast cancer treatment.

Like clomiphene, letrozole actually tricks the body into making more estrogen. Clomiphene, which is a selective estrogen receptor modulator, binds to estrogen receptors when estrogen levels are high so the brain gets the message to make even more, Diamond said. The pituitary gland gets stimulated by the hypothalamus, and patients make follicle stimulation hormone, which enables the eggs to mature, and more luteinizing hormone, which stimulates ovulation, enabling the mature egg to be released for fertilization. Letrozole produces similar results by blocking estrogen production, Diamond said.

“In a typical monthly cycle, there is usually one follicle and one egg that develop to the point of ovulation,” Diamond said. “What happens with the fertility drugs, you are overriding the mechanisms which usually only lead to development of one dominant follicle and release of one egg.”

Women are diagnosed with unexplained infertility if they have been trying for a year to get pregnant and there are no obvious problems such as lack of ovulation, an abnormal uterus or evidence of inflammation, such as endometriosis. Some of the women may have already had a previous child.

Yale University provided data coordination for the study. Diamond is also GRU’s senior vice president for research.

Senior military adviser for cyber, Maj. Gen. John Davis, to speak at GRU

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Maj. Gen. John Davis, senior military advisor for cyber to the undersecretary of defense for policy with the U.S. Department of Defense, will address “Ethics in a Cyber World” as part of The Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecturer in Ethics series at Georgia Regents University.

“This is a great opportunity for our students and the Augusta community to learn about the cyber world from a high-profile cyber expert,” Cyber Institute Director Joanne Sexton said. “It is an honor to welcome Maj. Gen. Davis to our institution. We hope our students will be inspired to follow his footsteps in working to keep our country safe in cyberspace.”

The free lecture will take place at 6 p.m. on Oct. 8 at the Jaguar Student Activities Center ballroom on GRU’s Summerville Campus. No registration is required.

As the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy, Davis helps the U.S. government and the Department of Defense develop and implement cyber strategies. He also helps ensure that U.S. cyber policies adhere to Department of Defense guidelines and strategies.

Before this assignment, Davis was director of current operations for the U.S. Cyber Command in Maryland and deputy commander of the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations in Virginia. For his service, Davis received the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.

The “Ethics in a Cyber World” lecture is sponsored by Georgia Bank and Trust and the James. M. Hull College of Business at Georgia Regents University. This is the 10th anniversary of The Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecturer in Ethics series.

Study looks at whether daily limb compressions reduce dementia

A new study is looking at whether short, daily bouts of reduced blood flow to an arm or leg can reduce the ravages of dementia.

It’s called remote conditioning, and researchers say it activates natural protective mechanisms in the brain that should help about half of dementia patients.

The approach uses a blood pressure cuff-like device to temporarily restrict blood flow to an appendage repeatedly for a few minutes each day, which increases blood flow to other body areas, including the brain, said Dr. David Hess, Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

Increased flow activates endothelial cells lining blood vessels, calling to action a series of natural protective mechanisms that can be effective wherever blood travels, Hess said. Interestingly, the mechanisms seem most active in areas of impaired flow, such as those deep inside the brain, where most dementia has its roots.

“The most powerful way to protect the brain is to cut off blood flow to it for a short period of time to condition it,” said Hess. “What it does is elicit these protective pathways so when potentially lethal ischemia comes, you can survive it.” What it also appears to do is help permanently improve blood flow to these deep regions of the brain.

Age and being a female are two of the major risk factors for dementia. With nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population age 65 and older and half being female, Hess calls dementia a major health concern. “This is a big epidemic coming. This is a big killer and disabler, and everybody is concerned about this.”

A two-year, $750,000 translational grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke should help Hess and his research team do the additional animal studies needed to move this safe and inexpensive technique for dementia to human studies.

“We think reduced cerebral blood flow, particularly in the deep white matter, is a major trigger of dementia,” Hess said. The white matter is primarily composed of axons, which connect neurons and different areas of the brain to each other and enable the brain to communicate with the body. The white protective coating on the axon is why this deep brain area is called white matter.

Hess, who is also a stroke specialist, says this area is particularly vulnerable to ischemia because the blood vessels that feed it are small and have long, tortuous routes. Strokes and/or impaired blood flow can lead to classic dementia symptoms such as forgetfulness and an unsteady gait.

By age 70, essentially everyone has some white matter disease, but in some it can be devastating. “You cannot go out in a car and find where you are going. You may not even be able to find your car. You can’t cook meals without setting the house on fire,” Hess said.

“What we want to do long term is find people who are at risk for dementia – they already have some white matter damage you can see on an MRI – then we condition them chronically with this device in their home,” Hess said. Chronically is a key word because, as with exercise, when this conditioning stops, so do its benefits. In fact, this passive therapy provides blood vessels many of the same benefits as exercise. “If you can exercise, you probably don’t need this,” Hess adds.

Previous studies in their animal model of vascular dementia have shown that just two weeks of daily, short bouts of ischemia to an appendage can improve the health of the important white matter. The new grant is allowing them to use a similar approach for periods of one and four months in older mice of both genders to better understand the mechanisms of action and how long and how often therapy is needed. While they don’t make as much as human, mice do make more amyloid, a protein that deposits in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s, when brain blood flow is impaired. Mice make less with the conditioning, so the researchers also are looking further at that result.

A small intramural grant is enabling similar studies with a pig model in collaboration with University of Georgia colleagues Dr. Simon R. Platt, professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Franklin D. West, assistant professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

While he notes that multiple natural mechanisms are activated, Hess and his team are focusing on how the temporary bouts of increased blood flow prompt endothelial cells to make the precursor for the blood vessel dilator nitric oxide.

“The enzyme that makes nitric oxide is upregulated and stimulated quickly,” Hess said. Nitric oxide gas has a short life, but when a lot is dumped in the blood, it’s oxidized into nitrite – the same stuff put in hot dogs – which circulates throughout the bloodstream so it goes wherever blood goes. Although just how this happens is unclear, when the nitrite gets to an area of low blood flow, it is converted back to nitric oxide, which helps improve flow, Hess said.

The MCG researchers are applying for federal funding to do trials in humans who are at high risk for stroke because of small vessel disease deep in the brain. In 2012, they published results of a small study in the journal Stroke indicating that successive, vigorous bouts of leg compressions following a stroke trigger natural protective mechanisms that reduce damage and double the effectiveness of the clot buster tPA. Similar studies have been done by others in patients with heart disease.

Vascular dementia is considered the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There are currently no drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for vascular dementia.

Collaborators at MCG and GRU include Dr. Mohammad B. Khan, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Hess’ lab; Dr. Nasrul Hoda, College of Allied Health Sciences; Dr. Philip Wang, Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior; Dr. Ali Syed Arbab, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Dr. Nathan Eugene Yanasak, Department of Radiology and Imaging;  and Dr. Jennifer Waller, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

GRU among 15 centers awarded federal funding to train physician-scientists in ob-gyn

Georgia Regents University is among 15 institutions in the nation to receive federal funding to help train the next generation of physician-scientists in obstetrics and gynecology.

GRU will receive $1.7 million over the next five years from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to train obstetrician-gynecologists to also become independent investigators in diverse women’s health fields such as infertility and high-risk pregnancy.

“We want individuals with fire in their belly to be able to get involved in research,” said Dr. Michael P. Diamond, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia at GRU, the university’s senior vice president for research and principal investigator for the new program in Augusta. “It’s a great opportunity to train clinicians to be clinical investigators.”

Diamond had been a research director on the Women’s Reproductive Health Research Career Development Program since its inception in 1998. When he came to MCG and GRU in 2013 from Wayne State University, Diamond’s goals included starting a program here.

The program is available for junior faculty as well as residents or fellows who have just completed training at locations across the nation or at MCG. National recruitment efforts start in September. The program funds two positions at a time for a maximum of five years in Augusta. Federal dollars will help support the salaries and the research of the program scholars.

Having committed time for research is difficult for physicians, particularly more junior physicians trying to juggle building a practice and a solid research program, Diamond said. The federal grant enables the physicians to focus on research at least 30 hours weekly.

The program will not only be important to individuals, but also to the medical school and university as it strives to reach the next level of academic achievement nationally, Diamond said. More minds focused on finding new knowledge will also help drive treatment forward for a variety of conditions affecting women, he said.

Dr. Nita J. Maihle, a breast cancer researcher who is associate director of education for the GRU Cancer Center and professor in the MCG Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is the program director. Dr. Ayman Al-Hendy, an obstetrician-gynecologist who directs his department’s Division of Translational Research, is recruitment director; and Dr. Lara M. Stepleman, psychologist and co-director of the GRU Educational Innovation Institute, is assisting the evaluation of the scholars.

Scholars can select mentors from a sizeable group of faculty who want to help more junior colleagues with their research career development, Diamond said. Examples include Dr. Larry B. Layman, chief of the Section of Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility and Genetics, and an NIH-funded investigator pursuing better understanding of clinical problems such as delayed puberty.

Other institutions receiving federal funding this year for the program are the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Northwestern University at Chicago; Oregon Health & Science University; University of Pennsylvania; Magee-Women’s Research Institute and Foundation; University of Washington; University of California, San Francisco; University of Michigan; University of California, San Diego; University of Utah; Women and Infants Hospital-Rhode Island; Wayne State University; University of Colorado, Denver; and Yale University.

According to the 2014 Physician-Scientist Workforce Working Group Report from the NIH, issues such as years of reductions in federal funding to support research, increasing clinical demands and the increased cost of medical education translate to a shortage of both physician-scientists and mentors across many specialties. The career development grant strives to reverse this national trend and train the next generation of physician-scientists in obstetrics and gynecology, Diamond said.

For more information, contact Diamond at michael.diamond@gru.edu or 706-721-3591, Maihle at nmaihle@gru.edu or 706-421-5991 and Al-Hendy at aalhendy@gru.edu or 706-721-3591.

Materials Seminar Series to start Friday

Over the past 20 to 25 years, the world has witnessed a major health crisis as a result of the dramatic increase in the emergence of multiple drug resistant pathogenic microorganisms (MDROs).

This emergence has resulted in a growing ineffectiveness of current antibiotic therapies. In turn, this has also stimulated a renewed interest in the development of new antibiotics that similarly adapt.

As part of the Materials Seminar Series, Dr. Rickey Hicks, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, will present “Antimicrobial Peptides: Design, Biological Evaluation and Biophysical Characterization or the search for a SMART DRUG,” on Friday Sept. 11 from 4 -5 p.m. in Room W1002 of the Science Hall on the Summerville Campus.

Attendance is open to the public.

For more information on the Materials Seminar Series, please contact Dr. Trinanjan Datta (tdatta@gru.edu), Dr. Christopher Klug (cklug@gru.edu) or Dr. Shaobin Miao (smiao@gru.edu).

The Materials Seminar Series is sponsored by the Georgia Regents Research Institute, the College of Science and Mathematics and the Department of Chemistry and Physics.

Hypertension in professional football players likely results from trauma on the field

The regular physical trauma that appears to put professional football players at risk for degenerative brain disease may also increase their risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease, researchers say.

The frequent hits football players experience, particularly frontline defenders such as linemen, likely continually activate the body’s natural defense system, producing chronic inflammation that is known to drive blood pressure up, according to a study in The FASEB Journal.

While strenuous physical activity clearly has its benefits, it also produces skeletal muscle damage, which literally tears some cells apart, said Dr. R. Clinton Webb, cardiovascular researcher who chairs the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

As an example, long-term, muscle cell tears actually help build muscle, but short term they spill cell contents, including damage-associated molecular patterns, or DAMPs, which capture the attention of the immune system, said Cam McCarthy, a fifth-year graduate student working in Webb’s lab and the study’s corresponding author.

DAMPs activate what should be a short bout of inflammation to deal with the danger, but in football players, this likely happens over and over again in just a single game. “We think that this increase in blood pressure we see in football players is due to the repeated trauma and immune system activation,” McCarthy said.

The trauma can be significant. The sheer size and strength of linemen today mean that those on the offensive and defensive line repeatedly smash into each other at a force equivalent to about a 30-mph car crash, the researchers write. Resistance training done off the field to improve lean muscle mass, likely results in more torn cells and additional activation of the immune response.

Higher blood pressure has been associated with professional and even college football, but exactly why remains unclear, Webb said. He noted that the cause is likely multifactorial and not simply the obesity found in the preponderance of players. While players’ blood pressure tends to drop toward normal after each season, a long-term impact is likely, the researchers said. Professional football players, for example, have a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease than the general population and live, on average, 10 years less.

The researchers hope that by fully understanding the cause, preventive strategies, maybe even something as simple as taking a daily baby aspirin to reduce inflammation, can reduce the short- and long-term impact of higher blood pressure.

Webb and his team have evidence that – at least in rats – circulating levels of DAMPs are increased in hypertension and increasing evidence of their direct role in hypertension. DAMPs appear to raise blood pressure by activating toll-like receptors on endothelial cells, which comprise the single-cell-thick lining of blood vessels. Toll-like receptors are located in all tissue and cell types and these pattern-recognition receptors are always on the lookout for danger and invaders, such as bacteria, McCarthy said.

The researchers theorize that toll-like receptors are activated a lot in football players, particularly linemen, who may be involved in literally a 100 hits per game. Results include arteries that are stiffer, less able to dilate, and higher blood pressure.

The researchers suspect that release and downstream effects of DAMPs likely play a role as well in the damage to the brain, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can occur in these athletes from years of blows to the head.

While increased hypertension in professional athletes may seem like a paradox, the researchers note that hypertension is the most common cardiovascular complication seen in competitive athletes, even ultramarathon runners.

In fact, reports in the lay literature of elevated blood pressure in football players prompted McCarthy and Webb to do a scientific literature search where they found more evidence of the problem, but not the complete cause behind it. That led to their published hypothesis and to their current pursuit of funding to measure DAMPs levels before, during and after season in college football players.

A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looking at the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors among NFL players compared with their peers in the general population showed significantly higher blood pressures. However, other cardiovascular risk factors, such as lipid and cholesterol levels, were mostly similar despite the fact that the players were generally taller and heavier. The study also noted an increase in the past three decades in body mass index for linemen.

Fat, particularly in the abdominal area, is a known risk factor for hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. A 2005 JAMA study showed that the percentage of NFL players with a body mass index of 30 or greater, which is considered obese, was double that of their non-football-playing peers. Offensive and defensive linemen had the highest BMIs. However, despite the pervasiveness of overweight, particularly among linemen, labeling body weight as the only culprit, is premature and doesn’t take into account the complexity of hypertension, the MCG researchers write.

Related studies looking at cardiovascular risk factors among NFL players in different positions showed linemen tend to have higher total cholesterol and triglyceride levels than other players in addition to higher blood pressures. A 2013 study in the journal Circulation showed that even college football players had elevated blood pressures that categorized them as pre-hypertensive and that, particularly linemen, were showing signs of unhealthy increases in the size of their heart related to pumping against increased blood pressure.

Webb and McCarthy’s FASEB study was supported by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.

Faculty art showcased in new GRU Byrd Gallery exhibit

Faculty in the Georgia Regents University Department of Art will present at the first exhibit of the academic year at The Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art opening Thursday, Aug. 27.

The Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art is a free art gallery open to the public on the Summerville campus of GRU. From Aug. 27 through Sept. 17, the space on the first floor of Washington Hall will feature works of art created by members of the GRU Department of Art faculty.

The GRU Annual Faculty Art Show 2015 is a unique opportunity to showcase the talents of GRU’s faculty, said Scott Thorp, chair of the Art Department and interim director of the gallery.

“With an expansive range of media exploration and artistic expression, these works reflect the inspiring creative abilities of our faculty,” Thorp said. “We’d like to invite the GRU community and Augusta community to join us for the opening, which includes a series of brief lectures and gallery reception. It’s a wonderful space and a hidden gem on GRU’s campus.”

Both events are open to the public. The artist talk featuring Kristen Casaletto, Brian Rust, Scott Thorp and Janice Williams M. Whiting is 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, in University Hall, room 170.  The opening reception is 6-7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27, in the gallery.

For more information, see gru.edu/byrd.