Originally created 03/04/03

College delays signing contract



Medical College of Georgia officials said Monday that they didn't agree to start a disaster medicine institute based in Augusta because a firm involved in the project didn't want the Georgia Institute of Technology to be involved.

Chip Giddens, the administrative director of MCG's Center of Operational Medicine, said the Research Triangle Institute, based in North Carolina, was reluctant to allow Georgia Tech to participate in an institute that would help commercialize disaster medicine research and education based at MCG and Fort Gordon.

"That would have an impact on state legislative effort to establish Fort Gordon and Augusta as a homeland security laboratory for medical disaster response," Mr. Giddens said.

Georgia Tech has an institute that can help commercialize research, which was what the Research Triangle Institute, he said.

Robert Helms, who represented Research Triangle Institute at a meeting Feb. 18 at which representatives were to sign an agreement, said it was urgent to get the institute going.

"We are who we are," he said. "I told them Jan. 23 that if we wait to get Georgia Tech involved, we'd never come to conclusion."

Dr. Matt Kluger, MCG's vice president for research, said MCG officials also didn't think it was appropriate to sign the agreement without input from the University of Georgia, whose representative couldn't attend.

MCG and its partners at UGA and Georgia Tech will continue to work to make Augusta and Fort Gordon essential centers for homeland security, said Dr. Daniel Rahn, MCG's president.

"I believe that MCG has an important role in the economic development in the state and in the region, and Fort Gordon is very important to the economy of this region," Dr. Rahn said. "If we've made a misstep that in some way negatively impacted on the goals of economic development and assurance of the future of Fort Gordon, we would want to correct it."

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.