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Author: Donna Huber

Trainee Spotlight: Beatrice Colon

trainee Beatrice Colon

Beatrice Colon, an Illinois native, is a Ph.D. trainee in Dennis Kyle’s laboratory. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Science degree from the University of South Florida (USF). She began her Ph.D. at USF as well.

Beatrice moved to the University of Georgia in January 2017 with the Kyle Lab.

“I decided to transfer universities because of the excellent infectious disease department,” said Beatrice.

Research and Training

“My favorite thing about the CTEGD is the openness for collaborations; the center is also very focused on training a new generation of scientists. “

Beatrice is currently working on a drug discovery project for the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri. The disease was the major factor that drew her to the project. Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis is nearly always fatal and affects young healthy children. Moreover, there is not an effective drug treatment for people that do get infected with the amoeba.

In her short time at UGA, Beatrice has won first place for a poster presentation at the graduate student and postdoc symposium. She was also selected for the Biology of Parasitism course at Woods Hole, MA this past summer.

“This course was definitely a career-changing experience – I was able to work with a variety of infectious diseases and learn techniques that were not available for the parasite I work on.”

What’s Next

Beatrice is interested in staying in drug discovery for infectious diseases and currently looking at positions in both academia and industry.


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UGA receives life sciences industry awards from Georgia Bio

By Allyson Mann

The University of Georgia was well represented at the Georgia Bio Awards, with five awards recognizing programs either at or affiliated with the university. The awards were presented by Georgia Bio, the association for Georgia’s life sciences industry, at its 2018 annual awards dinner Feb. 15 in Atlanta.

This year, two UGA units—the Center for Vaccines and Immunology and the Center for Tropical & Emerging Global Diseases—received awards, as did ArunA Biomedical, a biotechnology company that grew out of faculty research. The university also is affiliated with two additional award winners, the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance and the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies.

Georgia Bio members include pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies; medical centers; universities and research institutes; government groups; and other business organizations involved in the development of life sciences-related products and services.

“Improving human health and welfare is a vitally important part of UGA’s land-grant mission in the 21st century, and we have worked hard to expand our capabilities in this regard,” said UGA Vice President for Research David Lee. “It is gratifying to receive these awards from Georgia Bio, as they testify to the impact of our programs and the success of the faculty responsible for them.”

Ted M. Ross accepted the Phoenix Award, presented jointly to the Center for Vaccines and Immunology (CVI) and Sanofi Pasteur. Recipients of the Phoenix Award, sponsored by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and celebrating the best in industry and academic collaboration, have forged academic and industry relationships that drive translation and lead to new treatments and cures. Ross is Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar of Infectious Disease and director of CVI, which is dedicated to improving human and animal health through new and improved vaccine technologies.

Two Deals of the Year Awards were presented in recognition of financial or commercial transactions that are significant to the development of Georgia’s life sciences industry. The first was awarded to the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA), a team comprising UGA, Emory University, the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology that will train new investigators and develop the infrastructure for accelerating research-based improvements in clinical care and outcomes for the benefit of Georgia citizens. Bradley Phillips, the Millikan-Reeve Professor of Pharmacy and director of the Clinical and Translational Research Unit, is UGA’s principal investigator for Georgia CTSA, which received a $51 million National Institutes of Health statewide grant.

The second Deals of the Year Award was presented to the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT), which received a $20 million grant. CMaT is a federally funded consortium based at the Georgia Institute of Technology and designed to lower the cost and improve the reliability and safety of advanced cell therapies for chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. The UGA lead for CMaT is Steven Stice, director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Stice also accepted an Innovation Award for ArunA Biomedical, a biotechnology company he founded. ArunA Biomedical are experts in the design and scaling of a new class of cell-free biologic therapeutics and neural-specific drug delivery systems to treat central nervous system injury and neurodegenerative disorders. The Innovation Award honors those who are forging new ground by thinking outside traditional paradigms to create unique technology.

The Center for Tropical & Emerging Global Diseases received a Community Award, presented to those whose contributions to Georgia’s life sciences community are worthy of special recognition. Directed by Dennis Kyle, CTEGD is one of the largest international centers of research focused on diseases of poverty common to undeveloped and poor regions of the world. CTEGD researchers work on diseases that afflict hundreds of millions of people around the globe, including malaria, schistosomiasis, African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, cryptosporidiosis, toxoplasmosis, leishmaniasis and filariasis.

Originally published at

Visiting Scholar: Elvis Ofori Ameyaw


scholar Elvis Ameyaw

Elvis Ofori Ameyaw is a Fulbright Scholar visiting M. Belen Cassera‘s laboratory in the department of molecular biology and biochemistry. He is a senior lecturer, Head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Vice-Dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences in the College of Health and Allied Sciences at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana.

Dr. Ameyaw holds a B. Pharm and Ph.D. in Pharmacology. His research focuses on natural product drug discovery for infectious, in particular, malaria and Leishmania, and inflammatory diseases. At the University of Georgia, he is using in vitro techniques to screen some natural products isolates from plants that are traditionally used to treat malaria in Ghana.

“UGA is globally known for excellent research and education and my host scientist, Prof. M. Belen Cassera has created an envious and reputable niche in natural product research,” said Dr. Ameyaw.

The availability of seminars and other opportunities to interact with leading scientists also factored into Dr. Ameyaw’s decision to come to UGA.

“The research staff at UGA are very supportive and willing to share ideas.” said Dr. Ameyaw.

Athens reminds him of the college town of Cape Coast where he resides and works in Ghana.

“The city makes me feel at home away from home.”

Read more about Dr. Cassera’s natural products research.