Two GRU officials step down in uninvolved cases

Two top officials at Georgia Regents University are stepping down from their duties in unrelated cases.

Senior Vice President for Research Mark Hamrick said he is leaving his administrative role Sept. 1 and returning to his love of teaching and research and to meet an important grant deadline.

Vice Provost Roman Cibirka has “stepped away” from his duties and those administrative functions will be divided among other senior officials, spokeswoman Christen Carter said Wednesday. Cibirka, who is out this week, resigned to “pursue something else” but it was unclear what that was, she said. Cibirka’s faculty page also lists him as an associate professor in the College of Dental Medicine.

Hamrick is one of the principal investigators on a part of a $6.3 million Program Project Grant from the National Institute on Aging looking at the impact of aging on stem cells in muscle and bone and the nutritional impacts of aging as well. Most recently, Hamrick has been studying the hormone leptin, which is involved in appetite, and how restricting calories causes leptin levels to drop and lifespan to increase but also causes bones and muscles to atrophy. The deadline for the competitive renewal of that grant is months away and Hamrick said he must publish papers in support of it as well as gather new data to support the renewal.

“That’s a major issue,” Hamrick said. “I don’t want to be another person in the ranks of the unfunded, running a lab.”

Getting funding for such projects is becoming increasingly difficult and even those that get funded face cuts, he said.

“This is probably one of the worst times in the last 20-30 years in terms of biomedical research,” Hamrick said.

His decision was also a matter of timing. In the four years he has served as an administrator, Hamrick has installed new leadership in nearly all of the units he oversees.

“Most of the changes that we came in to make, at least from our perspective within this unit, we’ve done,” Hamrick said. “They don’t necessarily need me to sit and watch over them. They’re off and running and doing what they need to do.”

Dr. Michael Diamond, the vice president of clinical and translational services at GRU, will serve as the interim while the university looks for a permanent replacement. Asked if he wanted to continue as an administrator, Hamrick said flatly, “No. It’s been a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I learned a tremendous amount. The best thing about it was getting to know the other folks on campus, in Summerville and in the health system.”

But he missed teaching and his research at GRU awaits him.

“You wake up in the morning and what do you think about? I think about science and research,” Hamrick said.

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