News Release: Research, School of Medicine

Mar. 17,  2009

Technology Transfer Office Presents Emory's Annual Celebration of Technology and Innovation

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Third Annual Celebration of Technology and Innovation, Program and Reception

Tuesday, March 31, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Emory Conference Center, Silver Bell Pavilion, 1615 Clifton Rd., Atlanta 30322

Jerry Thursby, PhD, Georgia Tech Professor of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Commercialization

404-727-1785 or email



Innovation of the Year: Novel Tumor PET Imaging Agents, Mark Goodman, PhD

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among men, with 220,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States in 2007 and 27,000 deaths. While the accurate staging of prostate cancer is essential for effective treatment, no effective diagnostic imaging agent is available. Mark Goodman, PhD, professor of radiology in Emory School of Medicine, has developed unique PET imaging agents to detect and monitor the progression of prostate cancer and other cancers.

Rapidly proliferating tumor cells require high levels of amino acids to divide and grow. The Emory-developed PET imaging agents consist of radio-labeled analogs of amino acids that, when introduced systemically, are more readily taken up by the rapidly dividing cells of a prostate tumor compared to neighboring, non-tumor cells. The imaging agents also can detect prostate cancer that has metastasized to other regions of the body. Goodman and a clinical collaborator are planning pre-clinical and clinical studies of the PET imaging agents with seed funding from the Georgia Research Alliance, the Georgia Cancer Coalition and a private donor.

Start-up of the Year: Neuronetics Inc., Charles Epstein, MD, PhD

Major depression affects more than 13 million Americans, and more than half of those treated fail to achieve wellness. Neuronetics, Inc., based in Malvern, Penn., was founded in 2003 within the Innovation Factory, an Atlanta-based medical technology incubator. The company develops non-invasive therapies for the treatment of severe, chronic psychiatric and neurological disorders.

In 2008 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Neuronetics’ NeuroStar TMS Therapy for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder in adult patients. The therapy was invented by Charles Epstein, MD, PhD, professor of neurology, Emory School of Medicine. It is based on repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) technology and is aimed at patients who have not responded to an antidepressant medication. The non-invasive therapy stimulates nerve cells in an area of the brain linked to depression by delivering highly focused MRI-strength magnetic pulses.

Deal of the Year: Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Raymond Schinazi, PhD

According to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 350 million people worldwide have chronic HBV infection, including approximately 1.25 million in the United States.

In July 2008, Massachusetts-based Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. settled a long-standing dispute with Emory University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham related to the anti-viral compound, telbivudine, now sold as Tyzeka/Sebivo for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The compound was invented by Raymond Schinazi, PhD, professor of pediatrics in Emory School of Medicine. The settlement resulted in current and future royalty payments to Emory.

The large number of undiagnosed and untreated individuals with chronic HBV infection presents a medical need that potentially could be met with telbivudine.

Significant Event: Pharmasset Inc., Raymond Schinazi, PhD and Dennis Liotta, PhD

Pharmasset, Inc., founded in 1998 by Emory researchers Dennis Liotta, PhD, professor of chemistry, and Raymond Shinazi, PhD, professor of pediatrics, is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company committed to discovering, developing and commercializing novel drugs to treat viral infections. Pharmasset's primary focus is on developing drugs for the treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The company is currently developing three product candidates in various stages of clinical trials: Clevudine, for chronic HBV infection, R7128, for chronic HCV infection and Racivir, for HIV. In May 2007, the company completed an initial public offering of common stock resulting in net cash proceeds of $40.7 million. In June 2008 Pharmasset joined the Russell 3000 Index.

Emory University's technology transfer program has one of the most robust product pipelines of any university in the country, with one of the nation's leading programs for guiding technology developed in the laboratory through the patenting and licensing process to the marketplace and into the hands of consumers and patients. 

The program has resulted in 27 licensed therapeutic products, medical devices, and diagnostics already in the marketplace and 12 more in human clinical trials. At least 42 start-up companies have resulted from licensing Emory discoveries.

The most widely used drugs for HIV/AIDS, diagnostic tests for genetic disorders, drugs for cancer and hemophilia, a technology to improve angioplasty, and imaging software for diagnosing cardiovascular disease are among the many Emory discoveries now commercially available for patients and physicians.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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