Research Insights

Research Notes: Thoughts from VPR Karen Burg

华人第一情色社区 Vice President for Research Karen Burg

Karen Burg was appointed as 华人第一情色社区鈥檚 Vice President for Research in July 2021. Focusing on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, her work has been supported by more than $20 million in grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, as well as organizations such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Burg is the author of nearly 120 peer-reviewed journal publications and the co-author of four books and nearly 40 book chapters, and she holds nine U.S. patents. She also serves as the Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2022, Burg received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President Joe Biden.

UGA Cancer Center: Igniting the sparks of realization

Cancer, still the second-leading cause of death worldwide, is one of humanity鈥檚 oldest enemies. For many researchers, the fight against cancer is personal.

My own postdoctoral training was in the laboratories of the Chief of Surgical Oncology at Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) in Charlotte, N.C. Working in that medical center, I remember the anguished, yet determined faces of cancer patients and their loved ones. More recently, as I became part of my father鈥檚 two-decade battle with cancer, I developed additional perspective and my own determination.

For a junior scientist eager to make an impact in the world, my experience in an oncology unit was wrenching and inspiring. It was a 鈥渇ull on鈥 learning opportunity in multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration and in use-inspired discovery (i.e. listening, asking open ended questions, listening again even more intently, refining my ideas rather than racing blindly after an exciting engineering solution). I felt driven to give that hope to more families affected by cancer.

My time at CMC helped spark a realization of the urgency and need for thoughtful, impactful cancer therapy and prevention approaches; it led me to develop one of the first commercialized enabling technologies in the area of personalized precision cellular oncology. My experiences as a family member encountering the ravages of cancer taught me that the patient鈥檚 perspective is vital.

For researchers at the 华人第一情色社区, the offers an opportunity to conduct cutting-edge, translational research in a wide variety of related oncological fields, to work with colleagues at UGA, other research universities, and medical centers, and to engage the perspective of patients.

The center鈥檚 40-plus affiliated faculty members, hailing from two dozen departments across the university, attack cancer from three fronts: prevention, detection and diagnosis, and treatment. In fiscal year 2023, Cancer Center researchers attracted nearly $11.8 million in research funding, along with $8.6 million to date in fiscal year 2024.

In 2022, Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Pharmacy Eileen Kennedy became the center鈥檚 new director, and she began to explore and expand avenues for collaboration and marketing. Under her leadership, the Cancer Center has opened its doors to all by invigorating its campus seminar series, holding events monthly throughout the academic year, and engaging in activities like a in March.

The Center also has strengthened its partnerships with the at Augusta University and the at Emory University. Just last week, the UGA Cancer Center and Winship co-hosted their third recent retreat featuring student poster sessions as well as keynote addresses by prominent physicians. When I attended the joint retreat in 2022, I noted UGA and Emory graduate students excitedly talking with each other about their research, as well as faculty members discussing inter-institutional opportunities with similar excitement. In December 2023, the center also held a joint retreat at Augusta University鈥攖hree UGA student researchers received poster awards at this event! In addition, over the past year the Cancer Center funded $50K in seed grants for new collaborations of cancer researchers.

These opportunities for collaboration鈥攚ith Emory, with Augusta, with researchers across UGA鈥攔epresent the Cancer Center鈥檚 greatest appeal for faculty. Emory has an outstanding reputation in health sciences research, bolstered by a vast health care system that provides significant clinical research opportunities to partner institutions, including members of the (Ga-CTSA).

Both universities also benefit from the . Cancer survivor Richard Stamper, a 1984 UGA graduate, and his wife Kim (BBA 鈥89), have made possible the joint UGA-Winship retreats that have fostered fruitful research relationships over the past three years.

UGA鈥檚 unique resources and world-class expertise in veterinary research and our membership in Ga-CTSA鈥攏ot to mention the 鈥攑rovide ample opportunities for clinical work. The Cancer Center also is working with the Office of Global Engagement to grow international research partnerships and collaborations鈥攖he differing perspectives and background automatically afforded by global interactions are absolutely paramount to robust medical research.

Finally, cancer research is also very much on the mind of our students. Among the incoming Fall 2024 class of graduate students, 20% declared an interest in cancer biology. The center鈥檚 retreats have allowed some 80 students to showcase posters of their work, and two delivered oral presentations of their research at the UGA-Emory retreat last summer.

If you have an interest in cancer research, I urge you to connect with Cancer Center Director Eileen Kennedy at In December, the center will hold another retreat, this time on the UGA campus, with Augusta鈥檚 Georgia Cancer Center. This will be an excellent opportunity to talk with center faculty and discover research opportunities.

I also encourage you to consider the Cancer Center seed grants, which the Stampers are generously supporting for the next five years. The grants are contingent on generating new joint projects with Augusta/Emory faculty, undergirding the three institutions鈥 commitment and recognition of the power of collaboration.

Despite tremendous advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment that have extended and improved life for millions of cancer patients, we are still a long way from our goal. My hope is that the collaboration opportunities afforded will create for you the sparks that lead quickly to the realization that your work is so much more than an academic exercise.

Best wishes as we close out another exciting semester.

Karen J.L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research

More messages from the VPR

Teaching students life skills through undergraduate research and innovation Monday, April 1, 2024 - One of the highlights of my Harbor Lights lab in the College of Veterinary Medicine is the bustle of interdisciplinary, vertically integrated research activities: a postdoctoral fellow working with a graduate student and an enthusiastic team of undergraduates, moving together toward a common goal.
Your gateway to innovation Friday, March 1, 2024 - If you know me, you know my tagline 鈥淚nnovation lies at the intersection of disciplines鈥 and that I spend a great deal of time exploring this concept. This exploration aligns with serving as vice president for research, but for me it鈥檚 much deeper rooted.聽
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The power of purposeful interdisciplinarity Thursday, December 21, 2023 - Over the last 30 years, cross-disciplinary research teams have grown in number not just at UGA but at universities around the country and the world. That鈥檚 because few, if any, real-world problems contain themselves neatly within the boundaries of our academic disciplines; they are complex. To combat and emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, we needed ideas assembled from a host of different perspectives.
Understanding the implications of research security Thursday, November 30, 2023 - I want to give all of you an update on where we stand in terms of research security and UGA鈥檚 efforts to comply with recent, far-reaching federal policy changes that affect the majority of researchers on campus. I also would like to convey why research security is so important to all of us.
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Partner with Innovation Gateway to maximize research impact Saturday, April 15, 2023 - 华人第一情色社区 faculty members are innovative! Of the 200 or so startup projects currently in Innovation Gateway鈥檚 pipeline, more than 90% are led by faculty researchers. If your research has potential for commercialization, please know you work at an excellent university to help you translate your ideas to market and social good.
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Celebrating humanities & arts Thursday, December 15, 2022 - December 2022 Last month at UGA, we celebrated the importance of artistic expression in all forms through our Spotlight on the Arts. That monthlong event, drawing participation from across campus and involving the efforts of students, faculty, staff and alumni, reminds us each fall that some ideas and passions can only be adequately communicated through art. […]
Toward a more secure future for federally funded research Monday, November 21, 2022 - November 2022 At UGA, we have been strategically laying the groundwork to become much more active in research collaborations with the Department of Defense and other U.S. 鈥渕ission鈥 agencies. Mission agencies are federal agencies that support research geared toward goals such as securing national defense, addressing national energy challenges, and ensuring a robust transportation system. […]
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A Resolution for 2022: Improving Listening, Learning, and Communicating Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - Vice President for Research Karen Burg discusses a very important topic: communications. Simply put, an organization with dysfunctional communications is very likely to be dysfunctional itself.
The First Five Months in Review Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - Vice President for Research Karen Burg looks back on the first few months of her tenure, including initiatives to make improvements to Office of Research human infrastructure, IRB approval timelines for human subjects research, physical and information-technology infrastructure, internal communications, and support for the humanities and arts.
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Hello & Welcome from the New VPR Monday, August 16, 2021 - First, let me say how thrilled and honored I am to be serving as the 华人第一情色社区 Vice President for Research. Having served as a UGA faculty member since 2016, I鈥檓 well aware of the quality of the work our faculty, staff and student investigators produce, and it鈥檚 a privilege to serve the UGA research community in this role.