Media veteran Teya Ryan, president and executive director of Georgia Public Broadcasting, wants to wake up Georgians about cutting-edge scientific research taking place in the state while still hoping to bank on its past.
GPB developed its pilot last year for the Georgia Research Alliance titled “Future Files,” with a documentary about the efforts of Georgia scientists to combat the flu.
If timing is everything, the pilot titled “Pandemic Threat” was farsighted, coming out as the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that this year’s flu season has started earlier than normal and may last through May.
The purpose of the series is to present Georgia as a center for scientific research in a wide variety of fields sustained by the support of the research alliance that provides incentives for “eminent scholars” to settle here.
Should GPB be able to raise the funds, forthcoming episodes are to include overviews of new energy sources, cancer research and regenerative medicine.
During a presentation last month at the Istanbul Center in Midtown, Ms. Ryan outlined past successes such as GPB’s documentaries on the history of the Augusta National Golf Club and Margaret Mitchell, both of which were aired nationally.
Ms. Ryan said that she also was promoting a digital history of Georgia for eighth graders, which GPB could sell to schools and constantly update so that it wouldn’t become outdated like the current textbook versions that stop at 2004.
“Pandemic Threat” focuses on the research of doctors at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia and Emory University.
While the current outbreak of flu is of great concern across the country, Robert P. Gaynes, a doctor at Emory’s School of Medicine, reminds viewers of the seriousness of the 1918 flu pandemic that may have killed as many as 60 million people.
The episode also points out that with 80,000 flights carrying 7 million passengers around the world everyday the flu can be transmitted anywhere more rapidly than ever before.
Hostess Faith Salie dramatizes the fear many have of needles that keeps them from getting flu shots as a way of introducing the work of Mark Prausnitz, the Love family professor of chemical and biomolecular reengineering and the director of the Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery at Georgia Tech.
Dr. Prausnitz’s Laboratory for Drug Delivery has developed a painless patch for delivering flu vaccines to replace the use of hypodermic needles so that more people will be willing to be vaccinated.
Ralph A. Tripp, a professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine, was inspired by the technology of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to detect dangerous drugs and chemicals.
Dr. Tripp developed an “analyzer” with software that can detect various strains of the flu and provide an early warning of outbreaks.
Ms. Salie also interviews Rafi Ahmed, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and another Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar. Dr Ahmed is in the process of developing a universal vaccine that can block all forms of the flu.