TWO EMORY SCIENTISTS RECEIVE
BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY GROWTH AWARD FOR AIDS DRUG RESEARCH
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
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.