Johnny Isakson, former Georgia senator and University of Georgia alum, will be the namesake of a new chair for Parkinson’s research at UGA, according to a UGA Today news release. Approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents on Tuesday, the chair will focus on research toward treatments for Parkinson’s, which Isakson was diagnosed with in 2015.
UGA has raised $1.6 million for the chair’s establishment, which will be used to attract a faculty member who will teach and conduct research related to the study of Parkinson’s disease and other related brain disorders, according to a March 31 letter written by UGA President Jere Morehead to the board.
“Senator Isakson, a native Georgian and UGA alumnus, has admirably served our state and nation in public office across four decades, while also supporting his alma mater and higher education in general throughout his career,” Morehead said in the release. “We are pleased to establish this endowed faculty position in his honor and are confident that our new Isakson Professor will make important strides in fighting this debilitating disease.”
The university is continuing to raise funds and expects to begin the recruiting process early next year, Greg Trevor, UGA spokesperson, said in an email.
Isakson was born in Atlanta in 1944 and graduated from UGA in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in real estate.
His political career began 10 years later when he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, serving seven terms. He was elected to the state Senate in 1993 and served until 1996. Isakson began working on the state Board of Education under Gov. Zell Miller until he was elected as a U.S. Representative in 1999, according to the release. Isakson served two terms before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, where he served until his health caused him to step down in 2019.