Tag Archives: University of Georgia

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.

National Disaster Life Support Foundation signs agreement to make courses available in China

The National Disaster Life Support Foundation, based at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, has signed an agreement with the Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai and Xingcheng Medical Consulting & Services Company to teach standardized courses on disaster support throughout China.

The courses are part of a program designed to help a wide array of providers – from police to paramedics to hospital administrators and firefighters – best work together in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. It was developed as an outgrowth of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, when it became apparent that responding agencies are often trained differently.

The program includes a Core Disaster Life Support Course® that gives hospital-based and frontline medical providers the essentials of natural and man-made disaster management. Basic and advanced courses offer progressively more hands-on training and knowledge. The overarching goal is to give all types of responders a common knowledge base and jargon and to eliminate ambiguity, said Dr. Richard Schwartz, chairman of the MCG Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalists Services, who had the original idea for the program.

The courses, first introduced in 1999, were developed by the Medical College of Georgia, University of Georgia, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the University of Texas at Houston’s School of Public Health. The nonprofit National Disaster Life Support Foundation was established in 2004 to oversee the program, and they began a partnership with the American Medical Association to widely disseminate the program in 2006.

Today, there are about 90 domestic training sites, and courses have been taught in 49 states and in more than 20 foreign countries. There are training sites in 11 countries, including places like Mexico, Japan, India and Saudi Arabia, and now China, the world’s most populous country.

“The courses are unique and valuable because they are standardized across all disciplines of first responders; they deal with all types of hazards, and they are competency based,” said Jack Horner, executive director of the NDLSF. “To date, more than 120,000 students have been trained, and a growing number of health professional schools have added the program to their curriculum. Disasters know no borders and they know no language barrier either.”

Leadership in accountancy to highlight Ethics in Business Series

Dennis BeresfordDennis R. Beresford, Executive-in-Residence at the J.M. Tull School of Accountancy in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, will be the keynote for Georgia Regents University’s Russell A. Blanchard Ethics in Business Series. This free event will be held  Thursday, Jan. 22, at 5:30 p.m. in the McKnight Family Hall in GRU’s J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons.

Beresford currently serves as the Chairman of the Audit Committee of Doosan Infracore International, Inc.

He is the former Chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board as well as the former National Director of Accounting Standards for Ernst & Young. He also served on the boards of several organizations including National Service Industries Inc., WorldCom (MCI) Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Fannie Mae, and Legg Mason Inc.

His work in the field of accountancy has garnered him several accolades such as being inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame and receiving the  American Institute of CPAs Gold Medal for distinguished service.

In 2012, the Journal of Accountancy also recognized Beresford by adding him to their list of 125 People of Impact in Accounting, and in 2013, he received the Institute of Management Accountants’ first Distinguished Member Award.

For more information regarding this event, call GRU’s Hull College of Business at 706-737-1418.

New seed funding program to strengthen GRU-UGA research ties

Writen by: Sam Fahmy

Georgia Regents University and the University of Georgia will expand their research collaborations through a new program designed to help inter-institutional teams of faculty successfully compete for externally funded research grants.

Up to $250,000 will be available to inter-institutional teams of faculty through the GRU-UGA Seed Funding Program, with a maximum award of $75,000 per team. The seed funding, which comes from state funding provided for expansion of the Medical College of Georgia at GRU to create a medical partnership with UGA through an Athens campus, enables faculty to generate preliminary data that gives them a competitive edge as they seek funding from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and private foundations.

“This is yet another terrific opportunity resulting from our partnership with UGA,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, MCG Dean. “When we began our discussions about collaborative educational efforts years ago, one of our many goals was increased joint research endeavors as well, another logical point of synergy for two great research universities. Particularly at this time when external research funding is so competitive, this seed funding from our medical school will enable new research partnerships and the generation of findings that help secure external funding and strengthen the economic and physical well-being of our state and our nation.”

“This new program builds on the long history of collaboration between the University of Georgia and Georgia Regents University, and it strengthens both institutions and the state we serve,” said Dr. Pamela Whitten, UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. “By bringing some of Georgia’s greatest minds together, we’re creating new opportunities for advances across a myriad of health challenges that will ultimately improve the quality of life for those in Georgia and beyond.”

The program is open to faculty from all disciplines and interdisciplinary projects and those that translate findings from basic research to clinical practice are encouraged.

Collaboration between UGA and GRU takes many forms, from partnerships among researchers to educational programs. Earlier this month, the first cohort of medical students educated through the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership in Athens graduated. Last year, GRU launched its Center for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics, which works to translate laboratory findings to improved health and includes faculty from both institutions. And for more than 40 years, students from the UGA College of Pharmacy have honed their clinical and research skills at the GRU campus in Augusta.

Proposals will be reviewed by a team of UGA and GRU faculty and administrators jointly assembled by the Office of the Vice President for Research at UGA and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research at GRU. Proposals will be judged on the basis of their competitiveness for the indicated funding opportunity. Criteria will include the strength of the team and its leadership, the extent of outreach to the funding agency, and the quality of the plan leading up to proposal submission. Only meritorious proposals will be selected for funding.

Teams seeking funding through GRU-UGA Seed Funding Program must submit a brief letter of intent by Aug. 1, 2014, that lists the project title, the principal and co-principal investigators, and provides a brief description of the project. This new program is distinct from the current inter-institutional Cancer Seed Grant Program hosted by the GRU and UGA Cancer Centers that is focused solely on cancer biomarkers and therapeutics and has a proposal deadline of May 22, 2014, with a start date for funding of July 1, 2014. Instead, this program is available for researchers seeking to address a wide range of health issues.

For more information on the program, see ovpr.uga.edu/iga/grants/.

Eller To Lead Jaguar Baseball

Jason Eller has been appointed the new head coach of the Georgia Regents University Augusta Baseball program, according to an announcement Monday afternoon from GRU Augusta Director of Athletics Clint Bryant.

Eller was introduced as the fifth head coach in the program’s 48-year history during a 2 p.m., press conference in the JSAC (Jaguar Student Activities Center) ballroom on the university’s Summerville campus.

Eller, 40, spent the previous 11 seasons on the University of Georgia’s coaching staff, including the last seven years as a full-time assistant under head coach David Perno. In June, 2012, he was named pitching coach after assisting Perno with the hurlers during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Eller also coordinated UGA’s recruiting efforts from 2007-12.

“We had a tremendous amount of interest in our search,” Bryant said. “We brought five outstanding candidates to our campus, each of whom is more than capable of leading our program. I am confident, after much contemplation and deliberation, that we have found an excellent coach in Jason who is ready to make his own mark.”

A native of Kennesaw, Ga., Eller was charged with improving UGA’s mound fortunes. In 2011, the Bulldogs reduced their earned run average to 4.90 (down 3.61 runs per game from an 8.51 ERA in 2010). In 2012, Georgia’s ERA of 3.86 was its lowest in the aluminum bat era (dating back to 1974). Eller’s top pitcher in 2012 — left-hander Alex Wood — was a second-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves and made his major league debut for the Braves in May, 2013.

Eller was a part of three Georgia squads that advanced to the College World Series (CWS), including in 2008 when the Bulldogs were the national runnerup. Eller made his mark as a recruiter, setting a new Bulldog standard with 49 players selected in the past seven Major League Baseball (MLB) drafts, including a school-record 11 signees in 2011. Georgia’s 2011 recruiting class was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally by Perfect Game USA and finished in the top 20 after five draft picks enrolled at UGA. Five members of the 2012 signing class were drafted and seven members of the 2013 signing class were drafted, including Baseball America’s National High School Player of the Year for the second consecutive year (first round pick Clint Frazier, OF in 2013; first round pick Byron Buxton, OF in 2012).

Eller’s tenure with the Bulldogs also included stints working with outfielders and hitters in addition to serving as both a first base coach and third base coach. In 2003, he came to Georgia as a volunteer coach and was promoted to full-time assistant status in August, 2006.

Under Eller’s tutelage, Georgia hitters set a school record and SEC-best 109 home runs in 2009 as the Bulldogs made their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first time Georgia made back-to-back trips to the NCAA postseason since 2001-02. Georgia’s 2008 recruiting class was ranked fifth nationally by Collegiate Baseball.

Eller helped steer the SEC Champion Bulldogs to within a victory of the 2008 national championship. Georgia captured another NCAA Athens Regional and Super Regional, and then the Bulldogs reached the CWS Finals. UGA earned a consensus No. 2 final national ranking, marking the second-best finish in school history. Georgia’s offense in 2008 set school records for hits, total bases, at bats and tied the mark for games played.

Eller came to the Bulldogs from Georgia State where he spent the 2002 season as an assistant on Mike Hurst’s staff. Eller served as hitting instructor, worked with outfielders and was the team’s strength training coordinator. He gained additional experience as a part of the East Cobb baseball program. He was the manager of the 2003 Perfect Game Junior Division champion East Cobb Braves. He served as manager of the 18 and under CABA World Series championship East Cobb Tigers squad in 2001 and assistant coach of the 2000 team that won the CABA World Series.

He has worked as an instructor at various summer baseball camps including at Georgia, Florida State, Griffey International and the Bucky Dent Baseball School.

A 1998 graduate of Georgia State with a B.A. in Sociology, Eller was a four-year letterman for the Panther Baseball program from 1992-95 and served as a student assistant coach in 1996.

Eller is married to the former Amy Jones of Sandersville, Ga.

Fagan named founding Director for MCG Center for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics

SusanFaganportraitweb[1]Dr. Susan C. Fagan, Assistant Dean for the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy  campus at Georgia Regents University, has been named founding Director of the Center for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics at the Medical College of Georgia at GRU.

Fagan, Jowdy Professor at the UGA College of Pharmacy, also has been named MCG’s Assistant Dean for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics. She will continue her leadership role at UGA.

The new center as well as the assistant dean position will build on the 40-year partnership of the UGA pharmacy program at GRU and strengthen both institutions’ acumen at the successful translation of laboratory findings to improved health as well as the inter-professional education of health care professionals, said MCG Dean Peter F. Buckley.

The Center will include faculty from both Georgia research institutions.  Current affiliations include about 30 of UGA’s doctor of pharmacy students spending the final two years of their studies at the GRU campus. A graduate program, post-doctor of pharmacy residency training program and an extramurally-funded program to facilitate treatment of transplant patients also are based at the Augusta campus.  The program has ongoing collaborations with each of GRU’s nine colleges.

Svein Oie, Dean of the UGA College of Pharmacy, noted that the Center for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics will strengthen existing research and teaching collaborations between UGA and GRU that aim to improve the health of Georgians.

Plans include pursuing additional, dedicated space on the GRU campus for the Center that can accommodate expansion on all fronts, Buckley said. Current facilities include about 5,000 square feet on the campus periphery as well as laboratory space at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Fagan has been a UGA faculty member since 1999 and was named Distinguished Research Professor at UGA in April 2013.  She has held adjunct status at MCG since 2000 and led the UGA/GRU pharmacy program since 2008. She served as Chairwoman of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Research Institute Board of Trustees from 2008-09 and currently is serving a term on the Institute Board of Trustees. Fagan is on the editorial board of the journals Stroke, Pharmacotherapy and Translational Stroke Research as well as Clotcare.com, a non-profit providing patients and health care providers the latest insight on antithrombotic and anticoagulant therapy.

Fagan earned a doctor of pharmacy degree from the State University of New York and completed a Miles fellowship in Neuropharmacology at the Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., before completing a Presidential fellowship in pharmaceutics offered jointly by the two institutions.

Fagan named founding Director for MCG Center for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics

SusanFaganportraitweb[1]Dr. Susan C. Fagan, Assistant Dean for the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy  campus at Georgia Regents University, has been named founding Director of the Center for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics at the Medical College of Georgia at GRU.

Fagan, Jowdy Professor at the UGA College of Pharmacy, also has been named MCG’s Assistant Dean for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics. She will continue her leadership role at UGA.

The new center as well as the assistant dean position will build on the 40-year partnership of the UGA pharmacy program at GRU and strengthen both institutions’ acumen at the successful translation of laboratory findings to improved health as well as the inter-professional education of health care professionals, said MCG Dean Peter F. Buckley.

The Center will include faculty from both Georgia research institutions.  Current affiliations include about 30 of UGA’s doctor of pharmacy students spending the final two years of their studies at the GRU campus. A graduate program, post-doctor of pharmacy residency training program and an extramurally-funded program to facilitate treatment of transplant patients also are based at the Augusta campus.  The program has ongoing collaborations with each of GRU’s nine colleges.

Svein Oie, Dean of the UGA College of Pharmacy, noted that the Center for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics will strengthen existing research and teaching collaborations between UGA and GRU that aim to improve the health of Georgians.

Plans include pursuing additional, dedicated space on the GRU campus for the Center that can accommodate expansion on all fronts, Buckley said. Current facilities include about 5,000 square feet on the campus periphery as well as laboratory space at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Fagan has been a UGA faculty member since 1999 and was named Distinguished Research Professor at UGA in April 2013.  She has held adjunct status at MCG since 2000 and led the UGA/GRU pharmacy program since 2008. She served as Chairwoman of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Research Institute Board of Trustees from 2008-09 and currently is serving a term on the Institute Board of Trustees. Fagan is on the editorial board of the journals Stroke, Pharmacotherapy and Translational Stroke Research as well as Clotcare.com, a non-profit providing patients and health care providers the latest insight on antithrombotic and anticoagulant therapy.

Fagan earned a doctor of pharmacy degree from the State University of New York and completed a Miles fellowship in Neuropharmacology at the Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., before completing a Presidential fellowship in pharmaceutics offered jointly by the two institutions.