Announcements and News

Introducing Dr. Akia Parks

-- Successful dissertation defense!

ENGAGES Scholar Niara Botchwey going to International Science and Engineering Fair!

Congratulations to Project ENGAGES student Niara Botchwey who was selected to represent Atlanta Public Schools and compete in the International Science and Engineering (ISEF)! Niara is a senior at Drew Charter School, and is the first person in her school’s history to advance to ISEF! She received a gold medal in the Biomedical and Health Sciences category and received the Office of Naval Science Award at the Atlanta Public School Science Fair. She will advance and compete in the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (GSEF) taking place in Athens, GA at the end of March. Niara has been working at Georgia Tech in Dr. Manu Platt’s lab, and is mentored by 4th year PhD student, Simone Douglas. Her project is titled “Abnormal Fibrinolysis in Sickle Cell Disease”; her work includes degrading fibrin gels with macrophages as an in vitro test bed for understanding unintuitive blood clotting mechanisms in sickle cell disease. Most recently, Niara was awarded the Stamps President’s Scholars Program at Georgia Tech, which includes a full ride to GT covering all tuition/fees, and housing, as well as allowances for books and a new laptop! In addition to Georgia Tech, Niara has also been accepted to Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Spelman, Vanderbilt, Rice, and Case Western. This girl is on FIRE, and we (especially mentor Simone) are very proud of Niara and her wonderful accomplishments!

Platt Lab Celebrates 10 Years with a Surprise Reunion!

On October 20th 2018, ~50 of Dr. Manu Platt’s current and former students, mentees, friends, relatives, and coworkers held their breath crouched behind tables, waiting for their unsuspecting guest of honor to open the ballroom door. As Dr. Platt walked into the ballroom, wearing an African word cloud T-shirt and velvet blazer, attendees immediately erupted in applause and congratulations. Seconds after pondering why his students were at the “body-painting class” his sister-in-law had informed him they were attending, he was completely overwhelmed with emotion by this event planned by his former and current students a year prior reminiscing about their experience in the Platt lab and the impact Dr. Platt’s teachings have had in shaping their current life trajectory. After Dr. Platt established some semblance of control over his emotions, a procession of friends and former high school, undergraduate AND graduate students from as far as California, Massachusetts and Wisconsin recounted how he impacted their lives at different stages in his career. Dr. Platt’s 10 year professoriate anniversary was a testimony to the legacy he built his lab on. He is passionate, committed to promoting mentoring and diversity, and ensuring that we multiply his efforts through positively impacting scientific and social communities.

Introducing Dr. Meghan Ferrall-Fairbanks!

Meghan Ferrall-Fairbanks has successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation Effects of Cathepsin Proteolytic Network Dynamics on Extracellular Matrix Degradation in Biological Machines and Invasive Disease. Meghan will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL this August. We will miss her!!

Dr. Platt and graduate students Andrew Shockey and Akia Parks traveled to Ethiopia to meet with collaborators at the Black Lion Hospital and investigate the aggressive breast cancer observed in young women there.

Predictive Model Could Help Guide Choices for Breast Cancer Therapies

Dr. Platt and Platt Lab alumna Dr. Keon-Young Park recently published an article in Nature Scientific Reports on a method for predicting the invasiveness of tumors in individuals based on patients' personal proteolytic profiles.

Click here for an article about the research from Georgia Tech and Click here for the article published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Akia presented a 5 minute talk at the International Symposium on Ligaments & Tendons (ISL&T) and presented a poster at the Orthopaedic Research Society in Las Vegas, NV. She presented her work analyzing cathepsin activity and collagen degeneration in a supraspinatus tendon injury-induced rat model and in human chronic supraspinatus tendinopathy. Her abstract submitted to the ISL&T qualified her as a finalist for the Savio L-Y. Woo Young Researcher Award, a very prestigious honor in the tendon community (March 2015).

Dr. Platt selected by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education Magazine for their 2015 Emerging Scholars of the Year. This is a diverse group of standout scholars under the age of 40. Recognized for the uniqueness of their fields of study, as well as their commitment to service and teaching, these scholars represent some of the brightest minds in the nation. Click for excellent story by Jerry Grillo about this selection (January 2015).

Dr. Platt just presented the lab’s work on Proteolytic Profiles as a part of Personalized Medicine strategies, work that involves nurses, clinicians, biochemistry, biomedical engineering, and systems biologists! The conference was held in Melbourne, Australia and the Australian researchers were excellent hosts. Dr. Platt also participated on the opening panel discussion about scientists paths to and through transdisciplinary research which he shared with Dr. Tanya Brown, director of the Biophotonics Center at Adelaide and Dr. Jozef Penninger of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Austria, moderated by Dr. Sarah Meachem of Prince Henry’s Institute. Great science happening in Australia and cannot wait to return! (November 2014).

"Identification of Therapeutic Covariant microRNA Clusters in Hypoxia Treated Cardiac Progenitor Cell Exosomes using Systems Biology"

Gray WD, French KM, Ghosh-Choudhary SK, Maxwell JT, Brown ME, Platt MO, Searles CD, Davis ME.
We contributed with the systems biology analysis of the microRNAs contained in the exosomes from the cardiac progenitor cells. (October 2014).

Meghan Ferrall and Suhaas Anbazhakan both presented posters on their work at BMES this year. Suhaas won a special Reviewer’s Choice award for his abstract being in the top 5% of those submitted! Also, at the meeting, Dr. Platt received surprise recognition for his service on the BMES Diversity Committee as the chair of the annual Celebration of Minorities in BME luncheon. (October 2014).

Dr. Platt along with two other Georgia Tech professors were invited to attend and participate. His submitted educational innovation was on Project ENGAGES, the high school summer research program for students from Atlanta Public Schools (October 2014).

Valencia Watson was awarded FIRST PLACE for oral presentations of her work "Fluorescent Image Processing: Quantifying fluorescence to analyze the role of cysteine proteases in breast cancer cells" at the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) at Georgia Tech, and at the Ana G. Mendez University System (AGMUS) Research Symposium.

Her research focused on analyzing the effectiveness of the image processing software CellProfiler in measuring the fluorescence of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. She applied this same image processing technique to analyze the transfection efficiency of GFP transfected cells.

The SURE program is a 10 week summer undergraduate research experience at Georgia Tech. Fifteen students from various schools around the country spent their summer doing research in labs, and presented their final project at the end of the program. Valencia was awarded first place for her oral presentation.

AGMUS is a research symposium designed for undergraduate and graduate students to present their research in competition. The 2014 symposium was held on Saturday August 30, 2014 in the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Awards were given to those students who best presented their research for either oral or poster presentations. Valencia won first place overall for oral presentations.

Andrew "lighting" Kendreze during the Mentor Matching Ceremony

Kendreze will be mentored by Andrew and Christian. Kendreze is currently a junior at BEST Academy High School.
Project ENGAGES provides paid research experiences for local high school students, starting with a Cell Biology Bootcamp this summer then research during remainder of summer and throughout the academic year. Glad to have you on board!

Thanks to all who joined us for the event, great way to support the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia that advocates tirelessly for its clients to help those with sickle cell disease live healthier lives. Team prize and several individual winners in age group categories for race times.

Congratulations to Christian Rivera who was successfully awarded a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship! (April 2014)

Ivana Parker was one of twenty-five awardees nation-wide to successfully be awarded a WHITAKER INTERNATIONAL SUMMER FELLOWSHIP to do research in South Africa for two months. Great job, but we will miss you! (April 2014)

The Atlanta Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) Program is a new NIH Common Fund program that is centered around exposing pre-doctoral and post-doctoral scientists at Georgia Tech and Emory University to different career opportunities outside of academia. The trainees will be exposed to a breadth and depth of biomedical research career opportunities including law and business, scientific communications, STEM education, technology transfer and intellectual property, non-tenured track research, and industrial science. Click for more information.

Congratulations to Daniel Clough and Joel Chic for graduating from Georgia Tech with their Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering! (December 14, 2014)

8th General meeting of the International Proteolysis Society Meeting was held in October 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Platt lab members Philip Keegan, Keon-young Park, Ivana Parker, Catera Wilder, Kristi Porter, and Binbin Chen attended and presented our research on involvement of cathepsins in sickle cell disease, HIV and cardiovascular disease, endometriosis, and breast cancer.

We were also sure to share our work on multiplex cathepsin zymography technology developed in the lab and our new research thrust of cathepsin cannibalism and proteolytic networks and feedback. Great to share with our brothers and sisters in the Proteolysis field, great networking, great science, and of course, great wine and safaris (Hey, the conference was held on a South African vineyard!)

Dr.Platt co-authors paper on HIV/AIDS Policy with his brother, a political science professor. We studied every bill introduced, hearing held, and law passed by Congress relating to HIV and AIDS and compared this information with the most impactful biomedical research publications. They found that the breakthroughs in science correlated with the number and types of HIV/AIDS bills introduced in Congress, but did not impact the passage of laws, according to the abstract of the paper.

Click here to read the article:
"From GRID to Gridlock: The Relationship between Biomedical Breakthrough and HIV/AIDS Policy in the U.S. Congress" published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society (November 2013)

"Normally people focus on treating tendon injuries after the tear has occurred, but we're focusing on a much earlier stage in the disease" said Johnna Temenoff, an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. "This is the first time that an injectable therapy specifically designed to interact with tissue at an early disease state has been attempted for this particular tendon injury."

Temenoffs work is supported by a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) for five years of research, which began in September 2013.

Dr. Platt is a co-investigator to develop methods to inhibit cathepsins and other proteases that contribute to tendinopathy. Exciting new work and glad to continue the collaboration with NIH funding! (September 2013)

BMES Annual Meeting 2013 in Seattle

Graduate student Ivana Parker presented her work in a talk on HIV and Cardiovascular Disease, Undergraduate student Monet Roberts presented a poster on her contributions to HIV antiretroviral medication and cardiovascular disease, Undergraduate student Gabbie Nortey presented work from her summer at WPI, and Undergraduate student Daniel Clough presented his work on Developing Cellular Models of Sickle Cell Trait. Dr. Platt hosted the BMES Celebration of Minorities in BME luncheon with special guest speaker Dr. Aida Habtezion from Stanford University where she shared a powerful story of loving science and achieving against many odds by keeping family first and doing excellent science. (September 2013)

Congratulations to Meghan Ferrall for being selected for the Tau Beta Pi Fellowship!

Meghan has been a committed member and leader since her undergraduate days and continues onward.

Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory (SIRE) SIRE promotes undergraduate research projects through grants, faculty-student research partnerships, and summer research stipends, offering advantages to both students and faculty. These undergraduate researchers assist faculty in accomplishing ambitious research and allow faculty to work with self-motivated, developing scholars. The fellowship is co-funded by the Laney Graduate School, the Deans Office of Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

34th Annual Sickle Cell Road Race 7k Run/4k Walk - Saturday April 13th

All race proceeds support the mission of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia and its programs to serve persons afflicted with Sickle Cell Disease.

We put together a team of 28 from Georgia Tech BME and Community
Click here to view the pictures

Interview with Dr. Platt, Dr. Nerem, and Dr. Jo and students.


High school hands-on demonstrations were led by Georgia Tech BME Undergrads, BME graduate students, and EBICS collaborating graduate students with local high school students from B.E.S.T. Academy, Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership Academy, Benjamin E. Mays High School, Wheeler High School, South Atlanta High School, and several students from South Carolina sponsored by Clemson University's BMES Chapter.

Click to listen!

Binbin was presenting his work "Quantitative Toolbox to Measure Osteoclast and Cathepsin K Activity in Orthopedic Tissues" that describes new assays and technologies we have been developing to quantify osteoclast differentiation in studies of bone loss in disease.

Dr. Manu Platt and his brother Dr. Matthew Platt from Harvard University Department of Government presenting joint research project.

Ivana Kennedy and Laura Hansen presenting their research on HIV and Cardiovascular disease

Members of Platt Lab participating in the March on Washington: Keep the Promise rally on the Mall.

Check it out!

Platt Lab in Ethiopia

Ivana has been working at Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa since the end of April to study the effects of anti-retrovirals on cardiovascular disease markers in people living with HIV.

This is a part of our collaborative project with Dr. Rudy Gleason who has been in Addis Ababa since October as a Fulbright Fellow and Dr. Roy Sutliff at Emory as a part of our CNIHR grant.

Click here to see pictures of Dr. Platt's trip over to help set up a new assay and bring new supplies. Ivana will be back at the end of June after being there for two months.

Phil Keegan selected for Whitaker International Summer Program Grant!

Congratulations to Philip Keegan for being selected for the Whitaker International Summer Program Grant! He will go to Johannesburg, South Africa to work at the University of Witswatersrand to continue studies on HIV and cardiovascular disease. This grant is funded by Whitaker International Program.

LaDeidra Monet Roberts selected for the Whitaker Undergraduate Program Award!

Congratulations to undergraduate researcher LaDeidra Monet Roberts for being selected for the Whitaker Undergraduate Program Award for Fall 2012 for her proposed study in France this coming fall! This Scholarship is funded by Whitaker International Program and the Institute of International Education

Platt Lab with a few affiliates, including Dr. Platt's mom, participated in the 33rd Annual Sickle Cell Road Race.

Platt Lab Dodgeball!

Platt Lab Dodgeball team takes on Georgia Tech undergraduates!
Team captain and coach Daniel Clough sees improvement week to week, and promises a win with new strategy. Pictures here!

Congratulations to Binbin Chen and Sindhuja Surapaneni for being selected for Georgia Tech President's Undergraduate Research Awards for Spring Semester!

Dr. Platt selected for Keystone Symposia Fellows Program!

Congratulations to Dr. Platt for being 1 of 5 selected for the Keystone Symposia Fellows Program. This highly unique, research-driven, diversity-centered program educates early career scientists regarding the inner workings of the life sciences community and provides a venue for high-level interaction with established and leading scientists nationally and globally. The Fellows Program provides context, understanding and insight regarding the development of high-powered research meetings, utilizing shadowing experiences with scientist organizers and key Keystone Symposia staff members. These experiences allow for learning how the research agenda is set, how to engage in high-level discourse on research topics and how to broaden perspectives in life science research.

Congratulations to Jerald Dumas for being awarded the FIRST Postdoctoral Fellowship!! (May 2011)

Congratulations to Catera Wilder for being awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! AND a Ford Foundation Fellowship!

That makes 5 out of 5 NSF Fellows for the Platt Lab. AMAZING!

Congratulations to Binbin Chen for winning SECOND PLACE from the College of Engineering at the UROP Spring Research Symposium this April! Great job Binbin.!