George Mason University To Tackle Retail Industry Disruption With New Center

The retail industry was already facing dramatic disruptions before the coronavirus pandemic devastated the industry, and a new academic institution hopes to help small and midsized retailers survive. 

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George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia, campus.

George Mason University’s School of Business has launched the Center for Retail Transformation, aimed at providing research, events and a talent pipeline to the struggling industry, the school announced last week.

The center will be led by Gautham Vadakkepatt, who has spent the last decade in academia focused on marketing and has advised retailers on business strategy. He is putting together an advisory board of 30 retail industry professionals to guide the center. 

“We started talking about the center before COVID, but definitely COVID has accelerated the need of a center such as this, focused on small- and medium-sized retailers,” Vadakkepatt said. “They are struggling. The hope is this institution can help in some way.”

The center currently offers one class, an undergraduate course on retail management. It plans to roll out several additional classes for undergraduate and graduate students to study various aspects of retail in hopes of creating a pipeline of young professionals who are knowledgeable about the industry. 

It also plans to host conferences, workshops and executive training programs to convene retail leaders and experts to discuss the challenges the industry faces. And it will conduct research that it hopes will help retail executives make decisions about their businesses. 

“We’re hoping to build a mutually beneficial, collaborative ecosystem here that provides a workforce-ready talent pool as well as cutting-edge research for the retail space,” Vadakkepatt said. 

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Courtesy of George Mason University

Gautham Vadakkepatt, the director of George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation.

Vadakkepatt sees a host of challenges with the retail industry that he wants the center to address. 

He thinks legacy retailers have been too slow in adapting to the way e-commerce has changed consumer behavior and that many of the bankruptcies in the sector could have been avoided if retailers had pursued a better strategy. 

“Now with the advent of the internet, finding the product is not the issue, so what is valuable to the customer has changed,” he said. “The retailers have been mostly reactive, especially some of the legacy retailers, hence the bankruptcies.”

He said the pain that many retail companies have faced has been a result of overextending their real estate footprint. 

“The number of stores is too much, and the sizes of stores is perhaps too large,” he said. “Retailers could absolutely avoid some of these things by retaining the focus on evolving customer needs and rightsizing themselves.”

The pandemic has exacerbated many of the difficulties retail faced before this year, pushing more people to order products online and discouraging activities that bring them together.

Vadakkepatt said he thinks the pandemic will have long-term effects, such as accelerating the shift to e-commerce and forcing retailers to change their business model. He also said it had a silver lining in that it made retailers more willing to

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George Washington University Students Told To Prepare For Election Week Unrest

Students at George Washington University, whose main campus is four blocks from the White House, have been told to prepare for “election related disruptions” and to stockpile a week’s worth of food and medications. Though most of GW’s 26,000 students are attending classes remotely for the fall semester, a small number are living on or near campus.

Christy Anthony, director of GW’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, sent emails to students late last week advising them to prepare “as you would for a hurricane or a snowstorm.” The email told students that the election may not be decided on November 3. “Some may want to celebrate while others may protest,” it said.

In a statement reported by the publication Inside Higher Ed, Crystal Nosal, a university spokesperson, said the email was sent after D.C. government officials advised they were preparing for a “very active election season.” Peter Newsham, the city’s chief of police, has said, ‘it is widely believed that there will be civil unrest after the November election regardless of who wins.”

Josh Ingersoll, a GW graduate student who lives 40 minutes west of campus, says “it felt kind of surreal” when he received the email on Friday. “It’s disheartening getting that email and seeing all the storefronts in D.C. boarded up in preparation for Election Day tomorrow,” he says. He adds that he thinks “everything will work out,” though “there could be protests in the streets” this week. He says he has discussed with friend that protesters could come from either side of the political aisle, “but personally I’ve seen more activity from white supremacists.”

In Rochester, Ingersoll’s hometown, there was a public moment of silence held for Daniel Prude, a black man with schizophrenia who died of suffocation in March after police restrained him with a mesh hood. “The Proud Boys showed up,” he says. President Trump famously referenced the Proud Boys in his first debate with Vice President Biden when he said the group, which is associated with the white nationalist movement, should “stand back and stand by.”

Ingersoll says he’s been pleased with how the GW administration has handled communication with students throughout the pandemic and racial justice protests. “They’ve made sure we’re aware of anything that could change our ability to safely access the campus,” he says.

That’s helped students feel safe. “Most people are going to grab a couple of extra boxes of mac and cheese and a couple extra gallons of water,” he says. “Nobody seems to be panicked.”

For more on preparations for election day unrest, read this.

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Tetra Bio-Pharma, Targeted Pharmaceutical & the George Mason University Partner on ARDS-003 to Prevent & Treat COVID-19

  • Tetra, Targeted Pharmaceutical and the George Mason University National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases (NCBID) sign a research collaboration
  • ARDS-003 to be evaluated in Sars-CoV-2 infected animals at the Biocontainment Laboratory-George Mason University NCBID

OTTAWA, ON / ACCESSWIRE / October 22, 2020 / Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc. (“Tetra” or the “Company”) ( TSX:TBP )( OTCQB:TBPMF ), a leader in cannabinoid-derived drug discovery and development, is excited to announce that it has signed a research collaboration agreement with Targeted Pharmaceutical and the George Mason University NCBID. As previously disclosed last quarter, Tetra officially acquired a 20% minority stake in Targeted Pharmaceutical. As per the Officer Certificate provided to the TSX, Targeted is in compliance with all applicable laws in the jurisdictions in which they operate.

The NCBID is a leading institute conducting pioneering research on infectious diseases including diagnostic, therapeutics, and vaccine development. The research collaboration will allow the evaluation of ARDS-003, with and without antiviral drugs, to prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lance Liotta, Chief Medical Officer at Targeted Therapeutics, and Professor at the George Mason University, ARDS-003 will be studied in SARS-CoV-2 infected animals to further understand its potential as a preventive and therapeutic medicine. This research will be performed by Dr. Liotta’s team at the Biocontainment Laboratory-George Mason University NCBID. Dr. Liotta has served as Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) at the George Mason University. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Liotta served as Chief of the Laboratory of Pathology, NCI, Deputy Director of NIH, Co-Director of the NCI/FDA Clinical Proteomics Program, and Director of the Anatomic Pathology Residency Program.

Dr. Guy Chamberland, CEO and CRO commented, “We have initiated this research agreement to generate new intellectual property and work closer with key researchers in the USA who are investigating therapeutic agents for treatment of patients who are severely ill from COVID-19. Teaming up with Targeted Pharmaceutical opened the door to a collaboration with a prestigious USA research laboratory at the George Mason University. Having the ability to study investigational new drugs in animals who are infected with the COVID-19 virus is a major opportunity for us. The research team will gain tremendous knowledge on the role a cytokine release modulating drug plays in COVID-19 infections. This type of animal research was used to study potential drug candidates for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and most recently the REGN-COV2 antibody in SARS-CoV-2 infected animals. The Company is not making any expressed or implied claims that its product has the ability to eliminate, cure and/or contain the COVID-19 or the SARS-COV-2 virus at this time. ”

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 37,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. The National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases (NCBID) at Mason focuses on host-pathogen interactions using proteomics and nanotechnology as they are applied to diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine development.

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