Georgia Health Leaders to Senator Chambliss: Global Health R&D is Central to Economy, Health in State

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ATLANTA—August 31, 2011—Scientists and business leaders asked that Sen. Saxby Chambliss support federal funding for health research and development (R&D) in a meeting today at GeoVax Labs, a Smyrna-based biopharmaceutical firm developing vaccines to prevent and fight HIV. The senator’s chief of staff, Charlie Harman, met with Georgia R&D leaders from the public, private, academic and philanthropic sectors to discuss opportunities for growing Georgia’s burgeoning global health research sector. He also toured the GeoVax laboratory where a leading HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate, currently in clinical trials, is developed.

Hosted by GeoVax and GeorgiaBio, the meeting was attended by leaders from a number of Georgia- based global health organizations, including the CDC Foundation, Georgia Research Alliance, Global Healthcare Alliance, The Task Force for Global Health and the Emory Hubert Department of Global Health and Center for AIDS Research. Recent health breakthroughs, including progress in HIV vaccine research, have been made possible in part through grants and contracts awarded by federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While Georgia ranks ninth in population, it ranks just 15th in federal R&D funding, according to an August 2011 Research!America fact sheet. GeoVax president and CEO Robert McNally, PhD, said, “Global health research for vaccine development is made possible through public and private partnerships focused on the eradication of global diseases.” GeoVax evolved from research conducted at Emory University’s Vaccine Research Center, and the company is poised to become a dominant contributor to global eradication of HIV. Emory University scientists developed two of the drugs that are prescribed most frequently to patients with HIV around the world.

Georgia Bio President Charles Craig agrees. “There is a notable investment opportunity for the U.S. to capitalize on the R&D sector in Georgia, given the tremendous talent attracted to the state by its highly regarded universities, the CDC and its growing biosciences industry.”

The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) is an important asset to the state in this regard, drawing sought-after researchers to Georgia and creating opportunities to grow its economy through scientific discovery. Between 2002 and 2010, GRA supported the formation of more than 200 companies and the creation of 5,700 science and technology jobs in Georgia.

Speaking about the importance of the collective voice of global health in Georgia, Task Force President and CEO Mark Rosenberg, MD, noted, “Georgia has the potential to build a strong global health coalition in our state. This meeting with the senator’s staff is a good first step toward defining the potential for Georgia’s global health research sector to have an enormous impact on our state’s economy and on public health around the world.”

According to a May 2011 United for Medical Research report, NIH extramural research awards in Georgia totaled nearly $433 million, supporting more than 10,000 jobs in the state for research at universities, hospitals, small businesses and independent research institutes. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Georgia residents think spending money on research to improve health in the U.S. and around the world is important to Georgia’s economy, according to a June 2011 statewide poll commissioned by Research!America.

“Georgia business leaders, researchers and residents strongly support investment in global health research. It makes good economic sense and saves lives. We appreciate the opportunity to share evidence of the benefits of R&D in Georgia with key members of Congress and their staff,” said Mary Woolley, Research!America president and CEO.

About GeoVax: GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTCBB: GOVX) is a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing human vaccines for HIV/AIDS and other infectious agents. GeoVax’s unique AIDS vaccine technology is designed for use in uninfected people to protect them from AIDS should they be exposed to the HIV-1 virus. GeoVax’s preventative vaccine is currently in Phase 2a trials through the US Government sponsored HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). In ongoing Phase 1 testing, the therapeutic version of the vaccine may also prove effective as a treatment to reduce the need for drugs in people already infected with HIV.

About Georgia Bio: Georgia Bio, founded in 1989, is a non-profit, membership-based organization that promotes the interests and growth of the life sciences industry. Members include companies, universities, research institutions, government groups and other industry associations involved in discovery and application of life sciences products and related services that improve the health and well-being of people, animals and the environment. Georgia Bio's mission is to advance the growth of Georgia’s life sciences industry and foster strategic partnerships that can create a healthier world. Georgia Bio is the state affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based Biotechnology Industry Organization.

About Research!America: Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans.

About The Task Force for Global Health: The Task Force for Global Health, Inc. is a not-for-profit, public health organization dedicated to reducing the burden of vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical disease and improving public health systems by forging partnerships and applying innovative solutions.

About the Georgia Research Alliance: The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) is a private, non-profit organization that brings together the state’s academic, industry and government leaders to grow Georgia’s economy through scientific discovery. GRA builds capacity in Georgia’s universities by attracting top scientists to conduct frontier research and by developing highly specialized laboratories. GRA also fosters the commercialization of technology, provides seed and venture capital to launch early stage ventures, and directs a set of innovation centers that are helping grow key industry clusters in our state. GRA supports a number of research initiatives related to global health and manages a set of programs designed to make Georgia a leader in cancer research and care.

About Emory University’s Hubert Department of Global Health: The Hubert Department of Global Health seeks to understand and reduce global inequities in health and well-being. Inquiry-driven and ethically engaged, we seek to improve health status and delivery systems around the world through teaching, multidisciplinary research, program design and evaluation, service, and inspiring public-private and civic sector engagement in social action. Our ultimate goal is to strengthen the capacities of families, communities, societies and governments to identify and reduce barriers to health and wellness.

About the CDC Foundation: Established by Congress, the CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do more, faster by forging effective partnerships between CDC and corporations, foundations, organizations, and individuals to fight threats to health and safety.


Media Contacts

Robert Shalett
Director of Communications 

Luck shouldn't play a role in why I'm alive.
Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor