WHSC Scientists and their Worldwide Impact on Health

 Emory Researchers

Scientists in Emory University School of Medicine, Rollins School of Public Health, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and the Winship Cancer Institute conduct groundbreaking research that is improving health around the globe.

Dennis Liotta, Raymond Schinazi   More than 94% of U.S. HIV patients on life-saving therapy, and thousands more globally, take at least one of several drugs invented at Emory. In 2005 Emory received $540 million for Emtriva, an anti-HIV drug invented by scientists Dennis Liotta and Raymond Schinazi. 

Stephen Warren   Scientists led by human geneticist Stephen Warren discovered the gene responsible for fragile X syndrome in 1991, then developed a screening test. Now Warren and his colleagues are developing therapies. A current clinical trial could provide the first targeted treatment for inherited intellectual disability.

Don Stein   More than 25 years ago neuroscientist Don Stein discovered in the laboratory that the hormone progesterone could help in recovery from stroke and traumatic brain injury. That breakthrough led to a successful pilot study in humans. An Emory-led, NIH-funded clinical trial is now testing progesterone therapy in 1,100 patients nationwide. This groundbreaking research could lead to the first successful treatment for victims of traumatic brain injury.

Chris Larsen, Tom Pearson   Organ and tissue transplantation has been a major success of modern medicine, but transplant recipients must endure a lifetime of toxic immune-suppressing drugs. Physician/scientists Chris Larsen and Tom Pearson have led the development of less toxic, more effective drugs, currently on the path to FDA approval.

Gary Miller   Neurotoxicologist Gary Miller has created a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. By studying a defective protein in dopamine packaging, he is learning how environmental toxins affect neurodegeneration. Miller and pathologist Kequiang Ye are working with a new class of drugs that could help correct this protein defect and change the course of Parkinson’s disease.

Michael Davis, Kerry Ressler, Barbara Rothbaum   Neuroscientists Michael Davis and Kerry Ressler have discovered how fear is imprinted in the brain. Along with psychologist Barbara Rothbaum, they use virtual reality therapy, coupled with the drug d-cycloserine, in clinical trials to treat PTSD and a variety of phobias.

Larry Young   Larry Young, in a new Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, has developed the prairie vole into a model to discover neural pathways in social disorders including autism and schizophrenia. His discoveries could soon lead to clinical trials of drugs to treat autism spectrum disorders.

John Petros   Urologist John Petros developed a test to identify XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) in some prostate cancers. Infectious disease expert Raymond Schinazi has found that four drugs already used to treat HIV can inhibit XMRV in the laboratory. The combination between screening and effective drugs could lead to a new prostate cancer therapy.

Harriet Robinson   Led by former Emory researcher Harriet Robinson, immunologists developed one of the leading vaccine candidates against HIV/AIDS. The technology was licensed to startup GeoVax and is being tested in a Phase II clinical trial. Ongoing research has identified a promising therapeutic version of the vaccine.

Rama Amara, Rafi Ahmed   Immunologists Rafi Ahmed and Rama Amara discovered the molecule PD-1 (programmed death-1), which hinders the immune response to chronic infections. By blocking PD-1, they significantly prolonged survival in rhesus macaque monkeys with an HIV-like disease. The strategy could help fight other chronic diseases, including hepatitis C and tuberculosis.

Raymond Dingledine, Haian Fu   Emory research in drug discovery is enhanced by high-throughput technologies in the Chemical Biology Discovery Center, directed by pharmacologists Raymond Dingledine and Haian Fu, and in the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery, directed by chemist Dennis Liotta. Emory was selected by the National Cancer Institute to join a consortium aimed at accelerating the development of targeted cancer therapies.

Kathy Griendling   Cardiology researcher Kathy Griendling and her colleagues have made key discoveries about angiotensin II (a hormone that regulates blood pressure) and NADPH oxidases. NADPH oxidases generate reactive oxygen species, which also affect hypertension and can be toxic, but are key to transmitting signals that regulate blood vessel function.

Lynn Sibley   Lynn Sibley and her colleagues received more than $8 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve maternal and newborn health in Ethiopia. Their community-oriented strategy could save the lives of thousands of vulnerable mothers and children.

Helen Mayberg   Neuropsychiatrist Helen Mayberg discovered how mood is regulated in neural networks in a particular brain region. She has developed deep brain stimulation as a treatment showing promise in clinical trials for patients with severe, unresponsive depression.

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Research Strategic Plan