It's called common drive, and it's the way your brain sends messages to several muscles through slow oscillations as you contract them to stabilize yourself for sports or other activities. Minoru "Shino" Shinohara, associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, wanted to know more about how those nerve oscillations affect the way agonist and antagonist muscles contract against each other. He recently published his research on common drive, and he summarizes the results in this American College of Sports Medicine bulletin. 

Resistance to antibiotics is "the most underestimated epidemic in the United States." That was an ominous quote from a panelist during an Association of Health Care Journalists discussion on the rise of drug-resistant superbugs. Another panelist, Joshua Weitz, professor in the School of Biological Sciences, provided some hope as he described the impact of phages, viruses that attack bacteria from within. 

Georgia Tech’s Sam Brown Receives CDC Grant to Develop Treatment Strategies

October 30, 2017 | Atlanta, GA

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a debilitating genetic disease that impairs lung function. A major consequence of the disease is establishment of chronic lung infections. Multiple bacterial species cause the infections, and the bacterial populations differ from patient to patient.

Research by School of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Sam Brown aims to understand the dynamics of the bacterial populations – or microbiomes – associated with the disease. The hope is to develop treatments targeting the specific microbiomes of individual patients.

To this end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded Brown a grant of $300,000 for one year to develop new treatment strategies that are tailored to the individual microbiome profile of a person with cystic fibrosis. Brown is one of 25 investigators to receive funding from CDC as part of the agency’s push to combat antibiotic resistance.

The project – titled “Optimization of Therapeutic Strategies to Manage Polymicrobial CF Lung Infections: Clinical Assessment –will be carried out with co-investigator Arlene Stecenko, a cystic fibrosis expert at Emory University School of Medicine. Brown and Stecenko will track infection microbiomes in a small group of patients. They will monitor the impact of existing antibiotic treatments. They also will explore whether patients who naturally carry candidate “probiotic,” or beneficial, species are more resistant to colonization by notorious pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.

“This funding takes us closer to the long-term goal of effective personalized-medicine solutions to improve the lives of people with cystic fibrosis,” says Brown, who is a researcher with the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.

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Open-source software, in which the source code is available for anyone to use and modify, has been around since the late 1990s. When it comes to cancer drug prediction, however, its use has been limited. A team of Georgia Tech researchers hopes to change that. Its new study, and the release of an open source, machine learning platform for cancer drug prediction, is getting the attention of healthcare media outlets such as Healthcare Analytics News and this story from Health Data Management. The study's co-authors are with the School of Biological Sciences. John McDonald is a professor and director of Tech's Integrated Cancer Research Center. Fredrik Vannberg is an assistant professor. 

Yes, more than two-thirds of Earth is covered in water. But most of that ocean water is kept in the dark, and it's in those murky depths where certain microbes are believed to be trapping 15 to 45 percent of the carbon in the western North Atlantic Ocean, according to a new study. Those microbes might be found in similar amounts throughout the world. Frank Stewart, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences (with an appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) did not participate in the study, but does give his take on the findings. 

HealthTech focuses on the recent news that School of Biological Sciences researchers are allowing all scientists to use their new machine learning software for predicting cancer drug effectiveness. The hope is that the open source software approach, which will crowdsource research brainpower and expertise, will speed up the clinical trials process for cancer drug approval. Assistant Professor Fredrik Vannberg and Professor John McDonald contributed to the research; McDonald is also director of Tech's Integrated Cancer Research Center.

The organization known as the "world's largest general scientific society" has elected three Georgia Tech researchers as fellows for 2017. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has singled out Joshua Weitz, professor in the School of Biological Sciences; Baratunde Cola, associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering; and Mary Frank Fox, ADVANCE professor in the School of Public Policy. Weitz was honored for his research on the effects of viruses on populations and ecosystems. Weitz is also an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Physics, and director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Biosciences.  

Just in time for the release of a new Star Wars movie, the Luke Skywalker references abound in these three stories based on new research from a Georgia Tech team working on more responsive prostheses for amputees. There certainly is a resemblance to Skywalker's robotic hand in the prosthesis developed by College of Design researchers, which allows users to work individual fingers and control the amount of force. It enabled Jason Barnes, a musician who lost his right hand five years ago, to once again play the piano. In addition to the Mashable story, there is coverage at Engadget and Digital Trends. Minoru Shinohara, an associate professor, and lecturer Chris Fink are part of the research team; both are with the School of Biological Sciences.

This CNN video provides an up-close look at how musician Jason Barnes is able to play the piano again, thanks to an advanced right hand prosthesis provided by Georgia Tech researchers. The prosthesis allows more control and dexterity. There is also a side-by-side comparison of Barnes' prosthesis with the one Luke Skywalker uses in the Star Wars films. Minoru Shinohara, an associate professor, and lecturer Chris Fink were part of the Tech research team that designed the hand. They are both with the School of Biological Sciences.


The "Star Wars" theme is an ode to triumph, and there's no better way for musician Jason Barnes to show off his new prosthetic right hand than playing the song on a piano. Barnes, who lost the hand in 2012, received his prosthesis from researchers at Tech's Center for Music Technology. The prosthesis allows for greater control of individual fingers. Associate Professor Minoru Shinohara and lecturer Chris Fink were part of the design team; both are with the School of Biological Sciences.


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