McCamish Foundation Funding Will Further Parkinson’s Research at Georgia Tech and Emory

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by Mary Chapman |

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A multiyear McCamish Foundation funding commitment is expected to enhance the scope and reach of Parkinson’s disease research at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. It also could help make the state of Georgia a hub for collaborative research on neurological diseases.

The McCamish pledge — an unspecified amount — will create a seed fund to support high-risk, but promising, research ventures. It also will provide fellowships to graduate students, and promote interactions among fellow researchers in Georgia.

The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) — a Georgia Tech and Emory collaboration — will help lead translational neuroscience discovery driven by engineering innovation.

“For 22 years, Georgia Tech and Emory University have collaborated to improve the lives of individuals diagnosed with many of the world’s most challenging diseases,” Ángel Cabrera, Georgia Tech president, said in a press release.

“Through the sustained support of transformational philanthropy, the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering has become a national model for academic partnerships,” Cabera added. “This visionary and generous commitment from the McCamish Foundation will allow us to expand and accelerate collaboration and discovery to the point that an exciting new treatment for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders could be within our reach.”

The McCamish commitment is expected to boost research that leverages science, engineering, and technology at the universities in order to enhance knowledge and transform treatment.

“This generous commitment will enable Emory and Georgia Tech to build on our powerful biomedical partnership as we work to combat Parkinson’s and other devastating neurological diseases,” said Gregory L. Fenves, Emory president. “New treatments and cures require a deep commitment. I am grateful for our friends at the McCamish Foundation who will help us make the progress and find the answers that patients and families so urgently need.”

Gordon Beckham Jr. is president of the McCamish Foundation and is on the board of the Parkinson’s Foundation. Since losing his father to Parkinson’s, he’s been working to build a formidable research community in Georgia that will create new efforts to treat the neurodegenerative disorder.

“The McCamish Foundation has been in discussions on and off with Georgia Tech since my dad’s passing about innovative approaches to dealing with Parkinson’s,” Beckham said. “We have always been impressed by the amazing depth of talent at Tech.”

He noted that the University of Georgia (UGA) has been making major investments in Parkinson’s research, adding to the state’s positioning as a center for the study of neurological diseases.

“Given all this momentum within the state of Georgia, with BME as a nexus, the McCamish Foundation felt the timing was right to try something new at Tech and Emory while also leveraging the existing powerful collaboration between Tech, Emory, and UGA,” Beckham added.

The overarching goal is to give scientists room to collaborate on novel ideas that could lead to significant discoveries.

“Our vision is to create the next frontier in neuroscience and neurotechnology by confronting the enormous complexities of the dynamic brain and nervous system,” said Susan Margulies, the Wallace H. Coulter professor and chair in the BME. “Our brains engage with, adapt to, and are influenced by the world around us. Studying the changing chemical and electrical brain dynamics is a direct path to detecting and treating Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.”