Bellamkonda Named Georgia Cancer Coalition Scholar

Dr. Ravi Bellamkonda, a professor in The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, is one of 13 scientists named as a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar for 2007. One of only two professor level awardees, he will receive $150,000 in funding annually for five years to support his research efforts. The coalition selects scientists engaged in the most promising areas of cancer research; Bellamkonda's area of interest is nanotechnology for cancer imaging and therapy.

Bellamkonda was recruited from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he had developed a successful research laboratory. As a part of the Brain Tumor Program at the Winship Cancer Center at Emory, he is developing collaborations for researching a patient-specific, targeted anti-tumor therapy. Bellamkonda studied engineering at Osmania University in India; earned his Ph.D. at Brown University in Rhode Island; and completed his fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

"He is forging a truly interdisciplinary approach to cancer nanotherapeutics and diagnostics," said Don Giddens, dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech. "His work to develop nanotechnology-based strategies for early detection of cancer, targeted therapeutics and patient specific medicines is very promising."

The coalition cooperates with Georgia's research universities, medical schools, hospitals and nursing programs in recruiting research scientists, with the goal of strengthening the state's research talent, capacity and infrastructure. Since its inception in 2001, the Georgia Cancer Coalition has named 91 Distinguished Scholars; eight have been from Georgia Institute of Technology. The scholar funding is an investment not only in Georgia's future as a national leader in cancer control, but also is valuable in attracting increased funding to Georgia for cancer research. For starters, the coalition contracts with the sponsoring institution to provide at least a dollar-for-dollar match. The review committee examines the scholars' history of grants, publications and patents, and considers the researcher's potential for attracting future funding. In fiscal year 2006, Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholars were responsible for securing $48 million in privately and federally funded research grants to the state of Georgia.

Scholar selection is based on how the applicant's research relates to the goals of the coalition, the research priorities of the National Cancer Institute and the strategic plan of the sponsoring institution. Each application is reviewed by both an external scientific review committee and an advisory review committee, appointed by the coalition in cooperation with Georgia's research universities. Kate Canterbury, director of research programs, staffs the coalition committees. Members rank scholars according to predetermined scientific and technical criteria.

"The National Cancer Institute has identified areas of discovery that hold promise for making significant progress against all cancers. The Distinguished Cancer Clinicians and Scientists program is the cornerstone of the Georgia Cancer Coalition's efforts to advance scientific discovery into the prevention, treatment, causes, and cures of cancer. These scientists play an important role in positioning Georgia as a national leader in cancer research," says Bill Todd, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Georgia Cancer Coalition.

The Georgia Cancer Coalition is an independent, not-for-profit organization that unites government agencies, academic institutions, civic groups, corporations and health care organizations in a concerted effort to strengthen cancer prevention, research and treatment in Georgia, with the ultimate goal of making Georgia one of the nation's premier states for cancer care. The mission is to reduce the number of cancer-related deaths in Georgia. The coalition is the first of its kind in the nation and is fast becoming a national model.