The newest evidence of the deepening impact of a landmark gift from the McCamish Foundation is the appointment of three biomedical engineering faculty members to endowed positions. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the action at its August meeting.
James Dahlman and Annabelle Singer have been awarded McCamish Foundation Early Career Professorships; Garrett Stanley is the inaugural McCamish Foundation Distinguished Chair. These newly established endowments recognize high-performing faculty members in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering who are working in areas related to Parkinson’s disease or whose research has great potential to impact treatment of the condition.
“It is my honor to be able to support the work of these three talented members of our Coulter BME family,” said Susan Margulies, Wallace H. Coulter Chair and Professor of Coulter BME. “Each of them continues to make outstanding and impactful contributions to our Department and to the biomedical engineering profession. Their work will be an important piece of our partnership with the McCamish Foundation to transform our understanding of Parkinson’s and develop revolutionary approaches to the disease.”
The appointments come with flexible discretionary funds that professorship and chair holders can use to support student researchers, explore uncharted areas of research that could prompt external grants, and cultivate relationships with industry and research community leaders.
“My laboratory develops and utilizes engineering approaches to control neural circuits that underlie many aspects of brain function,” Stanley said. “The McCamish Chair will enable us to push in innovative directions that are not supported by traditional research funding — and to specifically target the circuits that underlie Parkinson’s disease and other related neurological diseases.”
Dahlman’s lab focuses on targeted drug delivery, gene editing, and nanomedicine. He has led development of DNA-barcoded nanoparticles that are used to deliver targeted therapies based on RNA molecules.
“I am honored and excited to join the McCamish team as an early career professor. This opportunity will give my lab something invaluable: the freedom to pursue promising high-risk, high-reward solutions to Parkinson’s,” Dahlman said. “It will also allow me to stay engaged with Parkinson’s clinical and patient communities. I have enjoyed getting to know these communities over the last few years, and look forward to continually learning about what they really need to fight this disease, so my lab can work to provide those solutions.”
Singer studies the brain’s immune system and how memories are created. Her work is developing new approaches to Alzheimer’s disease and new ways to stimulate the immune system in the brain.
“I am very excited about the McCamish Early Career Professorship. We have been developing novel, non-invasive stimulation to treat Alzheimer's disease. Based on our ongoing studies, we think this stimulation is broadly applicable to multiple neurodegenerative diseases, but we have not had a chance to test that yet,” Singer said. “With the McCamish professorship, we will be able to determine if this stimulation reduces pro-inflammatory immune signaling and prevents neurodegeneration in circuits that deteriorate in Parkinson's disease to ultimately prevent or halt motor impairment.”
In late 2020, the McCamish Foundation made a significant commitment to the Coulter Department to establish the McCamish Parkinson’s Disease Innovation Program. Stanley directs the program, which already has issued its first round of “blue sky grants” to seed new projects with exciting potential.