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January 23, 2003



Georgia Biomedical Partnership Award Recognizes Research Entrepreneurs' Impact on State’s Life Sciences Industry

The Georgia biotechnology industry has bestowed its top honor on two Emory scientists ­­ Dennis Liotta, PhD and Raymond Schinazi, PhD ­­ for their contributions to AIDS and cancer research that have been successfully translated into commercial opportunity. The Georgia Biomedical Partnership, a network of research institutions, government, and biotechnology corporations, presented Drs. Liotta and Schinazi the Biomedical Industry Growth Award on January 15.

The two Emory scientists have been leaders in the fight to develop life-saving drugs for HIV/AIDS since the early days of the epidemic in the mid 1980s, when they established the first HIV laboratory at Emory. Through a series of entrepreneurial successes, they have guided these drugs through the complex maze of drug development into the hands of physicians and patients.

Dr. Liotta and Schinazi have been involved in the discovery and development of a number of significant and successful anti-HIV and anti-hepatitis B virus compounds, including FTC, DAPD, D-D4FC, D4T, and many others, including 3TC (lamivudine), which is used as part of "drug cocktails" by 80 percent of patients treated for HIV. They currently have set their sights on developing an effective treatment for hepatitis C.

Dr. Liotta’s and Dr. Schinazi’s antiviral drug discovery and development has led to the founding of several successful biotech companies, including Triangle Pharmaceuticals, based in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Pharmasset, Ltd., based in Tucker, and Idenix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., based in Cambridge, Mass. In December, Triangle announced that it was being acquired by Gilead Sciences Inc. for $464 million. Gilead will continue development of FTC (emtricitabine), which, pending FDA approval, will be marketed as Coviracil.

Dr. Schinazi is professor of pediatrics and director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology in Emory University School of Medicine. He is senior research career scientist and scientific director of the Georgia Research Center on AIDS and HIV Infections at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and affiliate scientist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He is the virology/pharmacology core co-director for the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). He was selected to serve on the Presidential Commission on AIDS in 1996.

Dr. Liotta is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Chemistry at Emory. He was formerly Emory’s vice president for research and chair of the Department of Chemistry. He is a member of the AIDS and Related Research Study Section of the National Institutes of Health and director of the Molecular therapeutics program at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.

Past recipients of the Biomedical Industry Growth Award include Governor Roy Barnes, Robert Nerem, director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and Parker H. "Pete" Petit, chairman of Matria Healthcare Inc.

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