Memphis Daily News Chandler Reports Nashville Ledger
» Subscribe Today!
The Power of Information
The Ledger - Est. 1978 - Knoxville Edition

Forgot your password?
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Article
VOL. 45 | NO. 16 | Friday, April 16, 2021

ORNL partners with ATOM for drug discovery

Print | Front Page | Email this story

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has joined the Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine (ATOM) consortium, along with Argonne and Brookhaven national laboratories.

The partnership will further develop ATOM’s artificial intelligence drug discovery platform. The public-private ATOM consortium aims to transform drug discovery from a slow, sequential and high-risk process into a rapid, integrated and patient-centric model.

Founded in 2017, ATOM is developing a pre-competitive, pre-clinical drug design platform that integrates diverse data types such as physicochemical properties, in vitro assay results and anonymized human clinical data, with AI, high-performance computing and advanced experi-mental technologies. The goal is to shorten the drug discovery timeline from five years to less than one year.

Transforming drug discovery was Marti Head’s driving motivation when she helped create AT-OM during her time at GlaxoSmithKline. Now at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as the director of the ORNL-University of Tennessee Joint Institute for Biological Sciences, Head has continued to contribute to ATOM’s progress and the integration of these national laboratories with their unique capabilities.

ORNL is the largest Department of Energy science and energy laboratory with expertise in ac-celerating scientific discovery through modeling and simulation on powerful supercomputers, data-intensive science and biological systems research. ORNL will apply its unique capabilities to examine the complex and dynamic interactions between candidate molecules and the hu-man body. This approach, focused on quantitative systems pharmacology, predicts the window between an effective low dose of a drug and a higher dose that would be likely to elicit adverse effects.

To better predict these therapeutic parameters, scientists are combining AI with systems mod-els that represent proteins, organs and cellular processes. These data about relevant biological processes will integrate into the ATOM workflow to increase the chances of success when mol-ecules go to clinical trials. ORNL is also building the nation’s first exascale-class supercomputer, Frontier, which will allow researchers to solve increasingly complex biological problems when it comes online in late 2021.

“Bringing these collaborative capabilities together for targeted drug discovery is a bit like mov-ing from a linear conveyor belt model to an approach that enables understanding all of the components cohesively together from the very beginning,” Head says. “This has been our vision for ATOM from the start, and I’m excited to see it gaining momentum.”

Pilot Company gets new ING investment

ING led a new $650 million syndicated secured borrowing base loan on behalf of the energy and wholesale marketing division of Pilot Company, headquartered in Knoxville.

The facility supports Pilot Company's oil product purchase and storage, energy and wholesale marketing, logistics and merchant activities. ING acted as the sole mandated lead arranger and bookrunner, with participant lenders BNP Paribas, Rabobank, MUFG and Wells Fargo Bank N.A. The deal closed March 26 and was well oversubscribed.

"ING has been a strong partner to Pilot Company for several years and this new financing solu-tion supports our growth initiatives in the energy sector and fits nicely into our capital struc-ture," says Kevin Wills, chief financial officer, Pilot Company. "We were impressed with their sector expertise and execution capabilities in leading this inaugural deal. ING arranged a strong group of syndicate banks that understand our capabilities and were eager to support our busi-ness."

ING Capital LLC is an indirect U.S. subsidiary of ING Group N.V., a global financial services com-pany with a network spanning 40 countries.

Pilot Company is currently ranked No. 10 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Compa-nies.

Dick’s bringing concept store to Knoxville

Dick’s Sporting Goods will open its second House of Sport location, a new concept store, in Knoxville later in 2021.

The company recently celebrated its first House of Sport with a grand opening in Victor, New York.

The retailer will also debut nine newly redesigned Golf Galaxy locations and expanded technol-ogy offerings in 62 additional Golf Galaxy locations in select cities across the country.

Dick’s House of Sport will explore the future of retail through multi-sport experiences inside and outside the store, broad integration with the community, elevated customer service that will rely on passionate and skilled employees and enhanced technology for ease of connection with the brand.

The store will feature a 17,000 square foot outdoor turf field and running track, a rock-climbing wall, a batting cage with HitTrax technology, golf hitting bays with TrackMan simulators, a put-ting green, the company's first-ever "House of Cleats" that will seasonally rotate product, a health and wellness destination to help customers with recovery and well-being, and a consoli-dated service area for breaking in gloves, stringing lacrosse sticks and building/repairing bikes.

It will showcase best-in-class athletic and outdoor apparel brands, a vast selection of footwear, the latest gear for team sports and top-of-the-line equipment for golf and fitness.

Two Roads reaches milestone, rebrands

Two Roads, a virtual cloud accounting company headquartered in Knoxville, is celebrating 10 years of business in April.

To celebrate the anniversary, Two Roads has rebranded. With a modern design, Two Roads' new logo and website looks toward the future with its team and clients in mind.

Adam Slack, founder of Two Roads, says, “We believe every business owner should have the tools to understand their finances and have a team they can trust that those tasks are correctly completed. We want to be seen as a solution to all companies of all sizes and I think our new branding encompasses that. It’s simple, fun and precise.”

Two Roads has operated a remote-work business model from its beginning in 2011 and has team members and clients across the country and internationally.

“They're very responsive and timely, and they try to find solutions for non-routine requests,’’ says George Brown, managing director of SVN Wood Properties, a client of Two Roads.

“They aren't 'no' people. Meaning, they aren't the type of people whose first answer to a ques-tion or request is 'no.' Rather, they try to find ways of saying yes. I'd recommend them to any-one.”

GSCI reports on supply change disruptions

A new post-pandemic study from the University of Tennessee’s Global Supply Chain Institute quantifies the impact of supply chain disruptions on organizational performance and provides a pathway for assessing and increasing supply chain resiliency.

“Supply chain leaders have warned about vulnerability for years, but the boardroom and share-holders are finally becoming concerned about the traditional quick-fix, crisis-response ap-proach,” says David Demers, a GSCI fellow at UT’s Haslam College of Business and co-author of “Advancing E2E Agile Resiliency in Supply Chains.”

“Disruptions like the trade war and the pandemic last longer and come more frequently than previous disruptions, and enterprises with systemic readiness for them gain significant market share,’’ he adds.

Demers and his co-author, Brian Kolek, used their company, Avicon’s proprietary software to analyze performance for the top 16 to 24 organizations in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG), medical devices and industrial machinery industries. The analysis covered two quarters, one before and one during the pandemic. Their Diamond Analysis connects end-to-end supply chain design to key financial metrics, placing a firm’s performance in one of four quadrants in com-parison to its peers. The result shows the clear market winners in each industry during the pan-demic and the supply chain design levers they used to their advantage.

“COVID-19’s impact is significantly uneven within industries,” Demers says. “Even in industrial machinery, a sector that took large hits as a whole during the pandemic, there are standout companies that mitigated losses and even made gains. That range between loss and gain ap-pears connected to their supply chains’ level of agile resiliency.”

The paper also includes a case study of a CPG firm that created significant value and market gains through agile resiliency during the pandemic quarter measured. The authors warn that every organization’s agile-resilient design will be unique, but they detail what the case-study organization implemented in each of the 10 critical areas.

Replacement schools construction underway

Knox County Schools recently celebrated groundbreaking ceremonies for replacement schools at Adrian Burnett Elementary and Lonsdale Elementary.

The replacement school for Adrian Burnett will be a 94,000-square-foot building with capacity for approximately 800 students. It is expected to be completed before the fall semester of 2022 with an estimated to cost of $19,945,000.

It will be located on the existing campus at 4531 Brown Gap Road. The architect on the project is Johnson Architecture, Inc., and the general contractor is Merit Construction, Inc.

The building will include: 34 classrooms; four teacher work areas; two special education class-room suites; music room; art room; library; 7,100-square foot gymnasium; and

a storm shelter that will house approximately 935 occupants.

The replacement school for Lonsdale will be a 94,400-square-foot building with capacity for ap-proximately 800 students, and is expected to be completed before the fall semester of 2022.

It is estimated to cost $19,950,000 and will be located on the park property adjacent to the ex-isting Lonsdale Elementary School. This project will be constructed using a Design-Build delivery method with Rouse Construction Company as the contractor. McCarty, Holsaple, McCarty, Inc. is the architect.

The building will include: 36 classrooms; four teacher work areas; two special education class-room suites; 7,100-square-foot gymnasium; music room; art room; library; storm shelter that will house approximately 935 occupants; and a 2,000-square-foot recreation center for the City of Knoxville.

Local hospitals team up to thank workers

Area hospitals are collaborating on a campaign of storytelling, from the perspective of patients, to share gratitude for local health care workers across social media and local media outlets.

Blount Memorial Hospital, Covenant Health, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Tennova Healthcare and The University of Tennessee Medical Center are involved in the project.

The hospital partners explained the campaign in a joint statement:

“Day-to-day health care doesn’t stop in a pandemic. Babies are born, broken arms are set, and lifesaving procedures are performed under additional stress. We want to emphasize that all health care workers deserve our thanks, whether an emergency room doctor or an administra-tive staff member supporting building maintenance. Thanks to all of them, our community fought through a difficult year and is moving ahead with even more strength and persever-ance.’’

The recognition will continue with Nurses Week (May 6-12) and Hospitals Week (May 9-15).

The campaign includes public service announcements, videos and content created to honor health care workers. Local media partners including WATE-TV, WBIR-TV, WVLT-TV, the Knox-ville News Sentinel and B-97.5 FM, have joined the campaign and will broadcast these moments of gratitude across their listening, reading and viewing platforms. The hospitals also have planned special events and recognition for staff.

Poet Laureate to lead poetry celebration

Throughout the month of April, the City of Knoxville and Knoxville Area Transit will mark Na-tional Poetry Month with Poetry in Motion, a project bringing poetry to the people led by City of Knoxville Poet Laureate Rhea Carmon.

On Mondays and Fridays in April, a variety of local poets will hold pop-up performances at transit stops.

Also, area residents should keep an eye out for Poetry in Motion billboards, featuring poems by Carmon and previous Poet Laureates R.B. Morris and Marilyn Kallet.

Photos and videos of performances will be shared on social media using the #PoetryInMotion hashtag.

Visit for a list of poets and locations as well as more information about Rhea Carmon and the City’s Poet Laureate program.

KKB’s South Knoxville cleanup effort Saturday

Keep Knoxville Beautiful will host the fifth annual South Knoxville Community Cleanup Saturday, April 17.

The event will be held from 9 a.m.-noon and will kick off at from Sam Duff Park and Mary Ves-tal Park.

The South Knoxville Community Cleanup is KKB’s largest cleanup effort in South Knoxville each year. It is the third event of the Great Knoxville Cleanup, KKB’s spring litter cleanup series last-ing March through May. Volunteer are encouraged to participate in a KKB cleanup or borrow supplies to host their own cleanup.

Leaders from various North Knoxville neighborhoods and local community organizations will collect cleanup supplies at Sam Duff Park, then return to volunteers waiting at their designated locations to pick up litter.

Participating neighborhood associations include Lindbergh Forest, South Woodlawn, Island Home Park, Colonial Village, Vestal Community and Old Sevier. Other organizations participat-ing include UT College of Veterinary Medicine, Phi Eta Sigma, Crossfit Knoxville, South High Senior Center, FwF Helping Hands, Boy Scouts Troop 1882, Alpha Kapp Psi, Maryville High School National Honors Society Boy Scouts Troop 36, Theta Chi, Brown Mountain Preservation Society, SAM LLC and Alliance Brewing Company.

Individuals who do not have an official group will participate in a KKB cleanup of Goose Creek at Mary Vestal Park.

Freedom pass project off to solid start

Knox County students used their new Freedom Passes to take 2,487 free passenger trips aboard Knoxville Area Transit buses in the pilot program’s first month.

The new Freedom Pass allows unlimited rides on KAT’s fixed route bus service for students through Dec. 31.

The passes were used most frequently to ride buses rolling on Magnolia Avenue, Western Ave-nue and Kingston Pike and through Burlington. The most popular day to ride was Saturday.

"I'm glad to see the City’s Freedom Pass program is off to such a strong start," Mayor Indya Kincannon says. "These passes represent independence for families and make it easier for stu-dents to access after-school activities.

"Plus, introducing students to riding KAT now helps grow the next generation of transit enthusi-asts. This helps our environment now and will pay green dividends in the decades to come."

Director of Transit Isaac Thorne praised the first-month ridership as well as the destination metrics.

"Students are riding across the city on all of our routes - not just to and from school," he said. "This sort of freedom of movement provides great opportunities, and we look forward to seeing the program continue to grow."

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter & RSS: Nashville Editon