Georgia Bio Names 2020 Golden Helix Award Winners

UCB’s Patty Fritz and Quick Start’s Philip Gibson Honored

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Georgia Bio, the state’s life science trade association, will celebrate its Golden Helix Awards & Annual Gala on Friday, March 13th at Factory Atlanta in Chamblee. Georgia Bio is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Golden Helix Awards.

Patty Fritz, Georgia Bio Chair and VP, U.S. Corporate Affairs for UCB, Inc. and Philip G. Gibson, Ph.D., Georgia BioEd Institute Chair and Director, Georgia BioScience Training Center at Quick Start are the recipients of the 2020 Industry Growth Awards. The Industry Growth Awards are the highest honors bestowed each year by Georgia Bio.

The Golden Helix Awards celebrate the contributions and achievements of Georgia legislative, academic, corporate and other organizational leaders working to advance the growth of the life sciences industry and foster strategic partnerships that can create a healthier world. The event is expected to draw 300 of the state’s life sciences industry leaders.

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“Our life sciences community continues to collaborate and foster innovation to create a healthier world,” said Dr. Christopher McKinney, Chair of the Georgia Bio Awards Committee and Associate VP for Innovation Commercialization at Augusta University. “There has been 121% growth in Life Science patents between 2007 and 2017 and an average of 760 clinical trials starting each year in Georgia. Additionally, more than $780 million venture capital was raised in 2018, mostly going towards drug discovery and therapeutic devices. It is important to recognize the individuals and organizations supporting healthcare innovation and leadership here in Georgia. We look forward to bringing the sector together on March 13th for an evening of networking and celebration.”

Georgia Bio presents awards to individuals and companies in eight categories: Industry Growth; Deals of the Year; Community; Innovation; Emerging Leader; Biotech Teacher of the Year; Legislator of the Year; and the Metro Atlanta Chamber sponsored Phoenix Award. Winners are some of Georgia’s hardest working innovators and entrepreneurs producing advanced medicines, diagnostics and technologies to improve medical care.

Companies being honored with the distinguished Deal of the Year award include: Alcon for its acquisition of PowerVision; Aruna Bio for raising $13 million to continue development of therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Huntington’s Disease, and stroke; Danimer Scientific for a $6.5 million investment from Advantage Capital to boost capacity and significantly increase its workforce in Bainbridge, GA; Emory Vaccine Center and the University of Georgia Center for Vaccines and Immunology for their NIH grants that could exceed $200 million to advance work toward a universal flu vaccine; Georgia Cancer Center for their $6.5 million grant to improve access to clinical trials for minorities and underserved communities; Guide Therapeutics for an initial equity investment from GreatPoint Ventures to continue development of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) that deliver therapeutics for gene therapy; Tempus for its acquisition of AKESOGen; and Takeda Pharmaceutical for its acquisition of Shire.

“Golden Helix Award winners showcase the best in innovation and leadership in our community,” said Maria Thacker Goethe, President and CEO, Georgia Bio. “They are working to improve patients’ lives, support life science workforce development and grow Georgia’s economy. The awards program is a night for our members and community partners to pause and recognize the individuals and companies who are making lasting contributions to the life sciences sector in Georgia.”


Georgia Bio Industry Growth Awards: Presented to two people who have made an extraordinary contribution to the growth of the life sciences industry in Georgia.

  • Patty Fritz, Georgia Bio Chair and VP U.S. Corporate Affairs for UCB, Inc.
  • Philip G. Gibson, Ph.D., Georgia BioEd Institute Chair and Director, Georgia BioScience Training Center at Quick Start

Phoenix Award: Presented to two Georgia honorees who have forged academic and industry relationships that will drive translation and lead to new treatments and cures. This award is sponsored by the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta / Georgia Institute of Technology

Deals of the Year Awards: Presented to one or more companies or institutions for the most significant financial or commercial transactions closed from November 1, 2018-December 31, 2019, based on the importance of the transaction to Georgia’s life sciences industry.

Takeda Pharmaceutical 
Tempus and AKESOgen

Private Financing 
Aruna Bio 
Danimer Scientific 
Guide Therapeutics

Public Financing 
Emory Vaccine Center 
Georgia Cancer Center 
University of Georgia Center for Vaccines and Immunology

Community Awards: Presented to a small number of individuals, companies or institutions whose contributions to Georgia’s life sciences community are worthy of special recognition.

  • Michael Fisher, Global Center for Medical Innovation
  • Gerresheimer
  • Jayne Morgan, M.D., Piedmont Healthcare
  • Cynthia Sundell, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Georgia Poultry Diagnostic & Research Center

Innovation Awards: Presented to the department, institution, company or individuals who are forging new ground by thinking outside traditional paradigms to create some unique technology.

  • AnemoCheck Platform, Sanguina, Inc.
  • DisasterMed, R6 Industries
  • Micro C, OXOS Medical, Inc.
  • Non-Invasive Technology to Measure Oxygen Delivery & Use in Muscle, Infrared Rx, Inc.

Emerging Leader of the Year Awards: Presented to young individuals who have made a significant impact on the life sciences industry through their studies or employment.

  • Alexa Morse, Global Center for Medical Innovation

Teacher of the Year Award: Presented to a Georgia biotechnology high school teacher who exhibits excellence in STEM teaching and support for the biotechnology pathway.

  • Stan Harrison, Morgan County High School

Legislators of the Year Award: Presented to state legislators for their support of the life sciences industry in Georgia.

  • The Honorable Ellis Black, Georgia State Senate
  • The Honorable Robert Dickey, Georgia State Senate
  • The Honorable Terry England, Georgia House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Jack Hill, Georgia State Senate
  • The Honorable Randy Nix, Georgia House of Representatives
  • The Honorable John Wilkinson, Georgia State Senate

For a list of past Georgia Bio Industry Growth Award recipients, click here.


Georgia Bio (GaBio) is the state’s life science advocacy and business leadership industry association whose members include pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies, medical centers, universities and research institutes, government groups and other business organizations involved in the development of life sciences related products and services. GaBio works closely with industry, government, academia and others to shape public policy, improve access to innovative technologies and grow Georgia’s life sciences economy. Visit GaBio at, and follow us on Twitter @Georgia_BioFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Credentialed members of the news media are invited to attend as guests. Please register with Georgia Bio.