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Author: Donna Huber

Roberto Docampo named UGA recipient of SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Roberto Docampo

Athens, Ga. – Roberto Docampo, Distinguished Research Professor of Cellular Biology and Barbara and Sanford Orkin/Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, has been named the University of Georgia’s recipient of the 2017 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award.

The award, which is administered by provosts at the 14 universities in the SEC, recognizes professors with outstanding records in teaching and scholarship who serve as role models for students and other faculty members. Winners receive a $5,000 honorarium.

Docampo, a faculty member in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, is a world-renowned researcher known for his work on neglected parasitic diseases including malaria, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness. He also is credited with the discovery of a novel organelle, the acidocalcisome, conserved from bacteria to human platelets, where it has a role in blood coagulation. His most recent work at UGA includes the successful use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technique to edit the genome of Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. He also has characterized a key signaling pathway in the parasite, which could allow for advances in drugs or vaccines to treat or prevent parasitic diseases.

“Dr. Docampo is advancing research with implications for millions of people around the world while also educating and mentoring students who themselves will go on to improve global health,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “His work exemplifies the vital role this institution plays in creating healthier communities in Georgia and beyond.”

Docampo joined the UGA faculty in 2005 after serving as a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His career also included serving as a visiting scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and as a visiting professor at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and at Rockefeller University.

Docampo, who has written more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and chapters in top scientific journals, currently acts as the principal investigator on four grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling more than $7.2 million, and Brazilian grants fund a second laboratory in Campinas, São Paulo. In total, his research has garnered more than $20 million from organizations such as the NIH, World Health Organization, American Health Association, Georgia Research Alliance and GlaxoSmithKline.

Docampo has received numerous teaching and mentoring awards, and he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He currently serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, as well as on the editorial boards of four additional journals. In addition to the medical degree and two doctoral degrees he earned from the University of Buenos Aires and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Docampo was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the National University of San Martin in Argentina in 2013.

For more information about the SEC Faculty Achievement Awards, see

Writer: Camie Williams

Cellular biology professor Rick Tarleton named Regents’ Professor at UGA

Rick Tarleton

Athens, Ga. – Rick Tarleton, Distinguished Research Professor and University of georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in Biological Sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has been named Regents’ Professor, effective July 1.

Regents’ Professorships are bestowed by the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents on faculty members whose scholarship or creative activity is recognized nationally and internationally as innovative and pace-setting.

Tarleton, who is a professor in the department of cellular biology and founder of UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, has made research advances that have the potential to transform the lives of the 10 million to 20 million people suffering from Chagas disease, a potentially deadly parasitic infection that primarily affects people in Central and South America.

“Through the founding of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases in 1998, Dr. Tarleton has helped make the University of Georgia a leader in promoting global health,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “His research into Chagas disease has implications for millions of people and inspires hope in the fight against one of the world’s most neglected parasitic diseases.”

Tarleton’s laboratory established the Chagas Drug Discovery Consortium, which has brought together international researchers, pharmaceutical companies and not-for-profit groups to improve existing drug protocols and to establish new protocols for Chagas disease. Tarleton’s research has resulted in findings that explained the host-parasite relationship regarding the immune system, and he has continued his research to encompass the development of diagnostics and the evaluation of drugs and vaccines.

“Dr. Tarleton’s superb, innovative research has revolutionized our understanding of Chagas disease and is guiding efforts to translate that scientific revolution into practice both in vaccine production and drug discovery, as well as treatment for the affliction,” Kojo Mensa-Wilmot, professor and head of the department of cellular biology, wrote in a nomination letter.

Tarleton’s work has resulted in five patents and the founding of a proteomics software company known as BioInquire, which was acquired by biotech firm NuSep Holdings, as well as numerous public-private partnerships.

As the founding director of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, Tarleton was instrumental in recruiting additional world-renowned researchers and attracting funding that has enhanced field research in 20 countries. The center has garnered more than $135 million in research funding over the past 15 years and has 24 faculty members from eight units across campus.

“This center has garnered international recognition through Professor Tarleton’s research, as well as his vision and ability to attract key talent to expand the scope of research conducted in CTEGD,” Robert T. Jacobs, vice president of Anacor Pharmaceuticals, wrote in his nomination letter. “The impact of CTEGD goes beyond the science conducted by its researchers, as it has increased the international reputation of the University of Georgia as an important player in the scientific research community.”

In addition to holding the title of Distinguished Research Professor, Tarleton is a recipient of the 2012 Lamar Dodd Award.

The Regents’ Professorship includes a $10,000 salary increase and is granted for an initial period of three years, which may be renewed. No more than one Regents’ Professorship is given in any year at UGA.

For more information about the Regents’ Professorship, see

Writer: Camie Williams