Preparing the body to better defend itself against health threats requires new approaches and unprecedented collaboration. This is what the Immunology Center of Georgia (IMMCG) promises to deliver.
Launched in 2022, the center maintains a sharp focus on how to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight the nation’s two leading killers, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Significant contributions made by scientists here include:
Here’s what distinguishes the IMMCG in the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University:
We’re a new endeavor. While our resident and affiliated scientists have a record of accomplishment, they are driven to build an ambitious and focused institute from the ground up. We are recruiting other researchers who share our enthusiasm, passion and vision for shaping a new kind of research enterprise. And preparing the next generation of immunologists is core to our mission.
We’ve got expertise in two areas of high-dimensional data analysis. In mass cytometry, we developed new tools to collapse about 50 dimensions of data into just a few. We’re also creating algorithms to combine multiple CyTOF mass cytometry datasets to gain new insights into immune cell function in disease.
In single-cell RNA sequencing, we use an approach to match the surface makers on each cell with the gene expression in that same cell. Surface markers are detected by antibodies, which have some non-specific binding. We are developing methods to remove the non-specific binding and are improving methods to detect doublets, pairs of cells that stick together. Spatial transcriptomics allows researchers to locate each cell in a diseased tissue and reveal its gene expression.
We use artificial intelligence to deepen insight into data. The AI technology and methods we use reveal patterns that can then be validated by low-dimensional data methods, like flow cytometry or microscopy. This capability makes IMMCG a sought-after partner to other researchers who work with vast amounts of high-dimensional data.
We’re expansive thinkers with clearly defined targets. At our launch, our focus is primarily on cancer immunology, cardiovascular immunology and vaccinology. We have much to leverage in these areas, and we have our eye on how to apply what we’ve learned to other areas of health.
We want to see people benefit from our work. Our team is resolved to reduce health disparities in Georgia and the U.S., particularly in cancer mortality and incidences of cardiovascular disease. Our home base inside the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University positions us well to help rural Georgians and people who are underserved in healthcare.
Augusta University, IMMCG’s home, has great strength in health care and immunology-related research.
In 2022, the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University recruited highly acclaimed scientists Klaus Ley, MD, and Catherine "Lynn" Hedrick, PhD, from La Jolla Institute of Immunology to launch and build the Immunology Center of Georgia. Both were named Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholars, joining an academy of accomplished researchers who hold endowed chairs at Georgia’s private and public universities.
Ley and Hedrick arrived with a clear vision and purpose: To improve human health by advancing discovery in immunology and vaccinology.