Georgia Tech partnership for disease research gets $20 million boost


Research by several Georgia colleges and universities toward life-saving cells to fight cancer and heart disease got a $20 million boost Tuesday, courtesy of the federal government.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the grant for a new engineering research center at Georgia Tech that will work closely with several other institutions, such as Emory University and the University of Georgia, and the private sector.

The center, Georgia Tech said, will develop technology to produce at lower costs therapeutic cells that can be used for more patients worldwide.

Georgia Tech officials also said they will be able to train more people to do bio-manufacturing work. Tech researchers say the lack of a highly-trained bio-manufacturing workforce has hindered such work.

“With the support of the NSF and this new (engineering research center), we will be able to capitalize on expertise in multiple areas, taking transformative research from the laboratory to practice much more quickly,” Georgia Tech president Bud Peterson said in a statement. “The Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies will also help us educate, train and prepare the workforce in a new industry, thereby continuing to strengthen the U.S. economy.”

The pre-proposal for the grant was sent about two years ago, Georgia Tech and Emory officials said.

Some of the work will be done at Tech’s Marcus Center for Therapeutic Cell Characterization and Manufacturing. Georgia Tech is building an approximately 4,000-square-foot facility for such research. The facility is scheduled to be completed by early next year, officials said.

The NSF grant comes as Tech and several other Georgia research colleges and universities have raised concerns about possible reductions in research funding by the Trump administration. Leaders of the institutions wrote a joint letter in July to former Georgia congressman Tom Price, now the nation’s health and human services secretary, warning him of the potential impact of some cuts to the National Institutes of Health and other biomedical research awards.

Both chambers of Congress are opposed to such cuts. They’ve included budget proposals that would increase research funding. They also included language that would prohibit the Trump administration from changing the formula used to calculate some research funding costs in the most recent deal to keep the federal government running through early December, The New York Times reported.



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