George Georgiou, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin whose technology developments in the engineering, medical, biochemical and cellular fields could help treat tens of thousands of patients with diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis, has been elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
Established in 1970, IOM is the health arm of the National Academies. Induction into the institute is considered one of the highest honors in health and medicine, reserved for outstanding professional accomplishment and commitment to service.
Georgiou, a professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences, is only the third faculty member from the university and the second from the Cockrell School’s Biomedical Engineering Department and Chemical Engineering Department to be inducted into IOM.
“I’m delighted that Dr. George Georgiou’s significant research contributions are being recognized by the Institute of Medicine,” said Nicholas Peppas, a member of IOM, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, where Georgiou holds the Cockrell Family Regent’s Chair in Engineering #9. “Because of his pioneering work on therapeutics and biomedicine, his seminal work on manipulation of protein structure has led to a number of new drug and diagnostic systems that are improving the health and lives of many. He is a true leader in medicine.”
Georgiou joined the university in 1986 and is a world authority in the discovery, development and manufacturing of protein therapeutics. A member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Georgiou has developed several protein-based therapies for diseases, including co-developing the leading approach under consideration for treatment of inhaled anthrax. His research also includes the engineering of antibodies for protection against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the discovery of proteins that can treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
“George has been a leader on campus for well over a decade when it comes to combining basic science advances with new technology development and translating that into molecules and treatments that address current medical needs,” said Brent Iverson, the Warren J. and Viola Mae Raymer Professor and chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Natural Sciences. “Almost as important as his research contributions, Dr. Georgiou has inspired a remarkable number of this country’s next generation of scientists. His former research group members are now starting their own independent research careers at many of the most elite research universities in the country and indeed, around the world.”
Last year, Georgiou was awarded two grants from the newly formed Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. He was awarded $2.2 million to continue preclinical development of highly promising new proteins he developed for treating liver cancer, which has a median survival rate of only eight months. The grants also went toward his research on increasing the effectiveness of antibodies in cancer treatment.
“I am very pleased and honored by my election to the Institute of Medicine,” Georgiou said. “In turn, I wish to thank my amazing research team and my collaborators for helping bring our cancer drug candidates to the clinic. I look forward to the new transformative medical discovery technologies we are developing.”
Georgiou holds joint appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering, the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences’ Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.
He is co-inventor of more than 45 U.S. patents and patent applications that have been licensed to 16 biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. In addition to the National Academy of Engineering, Georgiou is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. In 2008, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers named Georgiou one of the 100 Eminent Engineers of the Modern Era.
Georgiou is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.
He has educated more than 100 Ph.D. and postdoctoral students, many of them now professors in other departments.