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UTSA professor honored by peers as AAAS fellow
By Amanda Beck
Senior Communications Specialist
One of the greatest honors a scientist can receive is to be recognized for his scientific contributions by his peers. Andrew Tsin has recently received such an honor by being named a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The tradition of AAAS fellows, an elected honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers, began in 1874.
During the 2012 AAAS annual meeting in Vancouver, Tsin will be presented with an official certificate and a gold rosette pin at the AAAS Fellows Forum Feb. 18. This year’s AAAS fellows were announced in the AAAS News and Notes section of the journal Science on Dec. 23, 2011. Tsin is the only UTSA professor to be elected as a fellow this year and UTSA is home to the largest number of AAAS fellows of any UT System University save UT Austin.
As part of the Section on Biological Sciences, Tsin was elected to be an AAAS fellow for his “lifelong achievements in vision research and his innovative role in promoting and administering research and training programs for the advancement of science.”
Tsin serves as the director of the Center for Research and Training in the Sciences and is a professor of biology in the College of Sciences. His research centers on the cause of degenerative blindness due to diseases like diabetic retinopathy.
The Center for Research and Training in the Sciences is the largest research training center at the university, currently housing more than a dozen programs. It is responsible for placing researchers in laboratories and bringing science into local classrooms and to the community.
Tsin hopes that many of the researchers will be students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. Over the course of his career, he has mentored more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students who have completed degrees and either continued their education or taken on positions as scientific researchers, physicians or educators. Tsin was recently awarded for his leadership by President Barack Obama with the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.
About AAAS: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal, Science. Founded in 1848, AAAS includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science servicing 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to advance science and serve society through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and more.
“The fact is, adjuncts serve a need. They are an ever more popular way for schools to keep teaching lots of students without spending adequate money on that teaching. Schools can continue to build 4-star dormitories and giant ice rinks because they don't pay fair wages to a large percentage of the people teaching the students. The problem is, schools don't have the will or, under current budgeting systems, the resources to adequately fund the need that adjuncts fill. Thus, we all accept and propagate the Wal-Mart logic of the academic workplace." ”—melikhovo
I love the ladies in the attendance office.
In order to complete my application, I had to get the attendance office to sign it…well, they checked my attendance and it (obviously) showed that I was missing from period five on both wednesday and today. And, of course they asked where I was and while I could’ve lied and said I had an appointment or something I told them the truth because I turn in attendance for both my theatre teacher and my swim coach and I like to think that me and the ladies in the attendance office have a sort of faculty/student friendship. I mean, obviously we aren’t friends but we see each other almost everyday. Anyways, They asked where I was and I looked at them and I told them I had to take a mental health day from that class. I mean, I was taking a giant leap of faith. They could’ve given me a referral or something right there I don’t know. But, they just laughed for a good 45 seconds, signed my paper and I went on my way. It was glorious.
Ophthalmic Drug Delivery Technology Developed by Mark Prausnitz's Research Group Leads to Startup Company with $4-million Initial Funding
Technology developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University for delivering drugs and other therapeutics to specific locations in the eye provides the foundation for a startup company that has received a $4 million venture capital investment.
The Atlanta-based startup, Clearside Biomedical, plans to develop microinjection technology that will use hollow microneedles to precisely target therapeutics within the eye. If the technique proves successful in clinical trials and wins regulatory approval, it could provide an improved method for treating diseases that affect the back of the eye, including age-related macular degeneration.
The technology was developed in collaboration between the research groups of Mark Prausnitz, a Regents’ professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Henry Edelhauser, a professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Emory School of Medicine. Research leading to development of the technology was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“We expect that targeting drug delivery within the eye will be helpful because we should be able to concentrate drugs at the disease sites where they need to act, and keep them away from other locations,” said Prausnitz. “This could reduce side effects and possibly also decrease the dose required.”
Prior to this development, drugs could be delivered to the retinal tissues at the back of the eye in three indirect ways: (1) injection by hypodermic needle into the eye’s vitreous humor, the gelatinous material that fills the eyeball, (2) eye drops, which are limited in their ability to reach the back of the eye, and (3) pills taken by mouth that expose the whole body to the drug.
The technology developed by Georgia Tech and Emory uses a hollow micron-scale needle to inject therapeutics into the suprachoroidal space located between the outer surface of the eye — known as the sclera — and the choroid — a deeper layer that provides nutrients to the rest of the eye. Preclinical research has demonstrated that fluid can flow between the two layers, where it can spread out to the entire eye, including structures such as the retina that are now difficult to reach.
By targeting this suprachoroidal space using microscopic needles, the researchers believe they can reduce trauma to the eye, make drugs more effective and reduce complications. The new delivery method could help advance a new series of drugs being developed to target the retina, choroid and other structures in the back of the eye.
“This is a significant advance in the field of ophthalmology,” said Edelhauser. “Until now, it has been difficult to target drug delivery to specific locations within the eye. This new microneedle technology enables precise drug targeting to the suprachoroidal space and other locations within the eye.”
In research reported in the January 2011 issue of the journal Pharmaceutical Research, the Georgia Tech-Emory team demonstrated for the first time that this technique can be used to deliver nanoparticles and microparticles to specific parts of the eye. In later research, they also showed that microneedle injections into the suprachoroidal space rapidly resulted in concentrations of drugs and particles that could be maintained for several months.
Between two and three million eye injections are made each year, many of them to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The researchers believe that the microneedle-based technique could be useful for treating both AMD and glaucoma, as well as other ocular conditions related to diabetes.
The $4 million in funding for Clearside Biomedical will come from Hatteras Venture Partners, a venture capital firm based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Hatteras focuses on seed and early-stage investments in companies developing products in biopharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic and related human health areas.
“Clearside Biomedical represents an ideal fit for Hatteras Discovery as the platform technology is highly innovative, based on elegant science and the lead product is expected to be in clinical trials in the United States in less than 18 months,” said Christy Shaffer, Ph.D., venture partner and managing director of the Hatteras Discovery Fund.
So far, the technique has been tested only in animals. The Hatteras funding will allow the company to conduct additional efficacy and safety testing needed to seek regulatory approval. The company’s first product is expected to address macular edema and retinal vein occlusion.
Clearside was formed with the assistance of Georgia Tech’s VentureLab program, which helped obtain early-stage seed funding from the Georgia Research Alliance. Georgia Tech VentureLab also helped the founders connect with the company’s president and CEO, Daniel White, a veteran ophthalmic entrepreneur. Before joining Clearside, White was a co-founder of Alimera Sciences, an Atlanta company that is developing ophthalmic pharmaceuticals.
Two researchers from the Prausnitz lab who have been involved in development of the ocular drug delivery technique will also join the company. They are Samirkumar Patel, a postdoctoral researcher and Vladimir Zarnitsyn, a research scientist.
Research leading to the development of the technology has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official view of the NIH.
Henry Edelhauser, Samirkumar Patel, Mark Prausnitz, Vladimir Zarnitsyn, Emory University and Georgia Tech have financial interests in Clearside Biomedical and its ocular platform. Edelhauser, Patel, Prausnitz and Zarnitsyn own equity in Clearside and the terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Emory University or Georgia Tech in accordance with their conflict of interest policies.