Every 67 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is no longer considered another ailment of getting older, but rather an epidemic because of the staggering increase in Alzheimer’s diagnoses, particularly among women. Statistics show that one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease. With Baby Boomers aging, this number is estimated to rise to one in six women, compared with one in 11 men who will be affected by the disease. Alzheimer’s robs loved ones of their memories and eventually the capacity to function. It is just as detrimental to the individual with Alzheimer’s as to the family members who are left to take care of them.
The epidemic could be just as deadly to the healthcare system. If nothing is done before the impending influx of women who will be diagnosed with the disease in the upcoming years, “We risk bankrupting our current healthcare system,” said Jessica Langbaum, principal scientist at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix. “If we do nothing and maintain the status quo, we will not be able to handle the surge of patients with Alzheimer’s because we are not equipped for it now.”
Medical experts fear that the current healthcare system will cripple under the stress caring for the increasing number of people who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Already, the statistics show that women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than they are to develop breast cancer.
PAYING THE BILL
There are 78 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. Each day, about 10,000 of them turn 65, which is the at-risk age for being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The majority of them are women.
“We are already starting to see an increase in women with Alzheimer’s,” said Lori Whitesell, owner of SYNERGY Home Care.
This can only complicate the expenses and funds being paid by Medicare and Medicaid, which are already expected to be responsible for a $150 billion bill this year to treat patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The national cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia is projected to reach $214 billion within the next two years. As of right now, each family can expect to pay about $56,800 a year for a family member with Alzheimer’s, making it the most expensive disease in the country.
In 2011, President Barack Obama recognized the growing concern and signed into law the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA). This project is designed to create and maintain an integrated national plan to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. The plan is to coordinate research and services across all of the federal agencies that are focusing their energy on the disease, as well as accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, cure or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
“It’s a race to figure out what to do,” said Bob Roth, managing partner of Cypress HomeCare Solutions, “and, thankfully, everyone is working together.”
NAPA hopes to increase early detection and wants to be able to prevent and effectively treat the disease by 2025.
ARIZONA HIT HARD
Despite the government’s efforts, it is only a matter of time before the epidemic of Alzheimer’s hits America. Out of the 5 million people who currently suffer from Alzheimer’s, 3.2 million are women. In Arizona alone, 11 percent of the seniors have Alzheimer’s. It is the fifth-leading cause of death in the state and it is estimated that in 2014 there will be a total of 120,000 seniors with Alzheimer’s in Arizona. It has been found that more senior citizens die from Alzheimer’s than prostate and breast cancer combined. Alzheimer’s disease is the only cause of death among the Top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
To compound the problem, there are currently not enough care facilities, hospitals or caregivers in the U.S. to help take care of the Baby Boomer generation, which is expected to raise the number of people with Alzheimer’s to 16 million people by 2025.
“The statistics that we have now are probably an underestimation because of the people that are trying to hide the fact that they have the disease,” said Roth, who is also on the board for the Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation.
Roth said many senior citizens are either afraid of what will happen to them or they ignore the symptoms of the disease. Studies have shown that women tend to live longer than men and will be widowed or separated from their families for the last 10 to15 years of their lives, which severely limits the number of people who can help support them.
HARD TO UNDERSTAND
Not only is it hard to know what will happen in the near future with our healthcare system, but the disease itself is still very misunderstood. It is known that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. In the beginning stages, the memory loss is mild; however, as the illness advances to the later stages, the patient loses the ability to carry on a conversation as well as the loss of motor functions.
Scientists have yet to find the real cause of this disease, but they believe that it starts in the brain cells, also known as neurons. The brain has more than 100 billion neurons that connect with each other to form a communication network. Researchers think that Alzheimer’s is created by an amyloid plaque buildup between the neurons, which prevents the brain cells from working properly. This causes a breakdown of the brain’s communication system and the cells lose the ability to do their job. The cells eventually die and cause irreversible damage to the brain. As the neurons die, the entire brain shrinks from tissue loss. Due to the amount of brain damage, the average person with Alzheimer’s lives about eight years.
Currently, there are 10 million women in the U.S. who have Alzheimer’s or are caring for someone with the disease. Most caregivers are unpaid and work without any support. They usually have to give up their jobs because taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is a 24-hour-a-day job. There are two and a half times as many women providing intensive care for Alzheimer’s patients than men. Women who take on the role of full-time caregiver are strongly encouraged to use respite care so that they can get the breaks needed to be able to take care of themselves.
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is the largest Alzheimer’s research facility in the country. It is recognized as a world leader in brain imaging research. It uses advanced brain imaging techniques that help researchers detect and track any brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s before memory loss and thinking issues arise. On Feb. 7, 2012, the Obama administration announced a historic investment of $156 million to Alzheimer’s research.
“We’re so grateful for the funds that Obama gave us, but we need more,” Langbaum said. ““It’s wonderful that the government has made (Alzheimer’s research) a priority, but a lot needs to happen before we can find a cure or a treatment by the deadline they have set in 2025. Right now, we don’t have the funds to do that.”
Charles J. Arntzen, PhD, the founding director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, has been named the 2014 Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year. The award is given annually to the life science researcher in Arizona who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge and the understanding of biological processes.
“Charlie was instrumental in helping create an experimental drug called ZMapp that was recently used to treat U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola this summer,” says Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association. “His work has put Arizona on the map in new ways as people all over the world are fascinated by the idea that it is possible to produce medicine inside a plant.”
“Charlie’s work represents some of the best and brightest of Biodesign,” says Raymond DuBois, executive director of the Biodesign Institute. “By erasing traditional boundaries between the sciences, we are able to deliver unexpected solutions.”
Arntzen’s primary research interests are in plant molecular biology and protein engineering, as well as the utilization of plant biotechnology for enhancement of food quality and value, and for overcoming health and agricultural constraints in the developing world. He has been recognized as a pioneer in the development of plant-based vaccines for human disease prevention, with special emphasis on needs of poor countries, and for disease prevention in animal agriculture. His work developed the technology by which human proteins (such as ZMapp) can be expressed in and harvested from plants.
Arntzen is the Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Endowed Chair and Regents’ Professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences. He serves on the board of directors of Advanced BioNutrition and is on the advisory board of the Burrill and Company’s Agbio Capital Fund and the Nutraceuticals Fund.
Prior to coming to ASU in 2000, Arntzen was president and CEO of the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. He also served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Advisors on Science and the National Nanotechnology Oversight Board.
Arntzen will be honored at the AZBio Awards Gala on Sept. 17 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The AZBio Awards ceremony celebrates Arizona’s leading educators, innovators and companies. Each year AZBio honors bioindustry leaders from across Arizona illustrative of the depth, breadth and expertise of the state’s bioscience industry.
Past winners of the Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year Award include: Leslie Boyer, MD (The University of Arizona), Paul Keim, PhD (Northern Arizona University and TGen-North), Jessica Langbaum, PhD (Banner Alzheimer’s Research Institute), Milton Sommerfeld, PhD, and Qiang Hu, PhD (Arizona State University), Bruce Rittman, PhD (Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University), Rod Wing, PhD (Arizona Genomics Institute at the University of Arizona), and Roy Curtiss, III, PhD (Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University).
They are the best business minds in Arizona. They are innovators, trailblazers and leaders of men.
They are Az Business magazine’s Most Influential Women in Arizona Business for 2014, as selected by the editorial team at Az Business magazine and a panel of industry experts. The Most Influential Women were honored Thursday at a reception at The Venue in Scottsdale.
“While their resumes and career paths may differ, the women we selected have all procured influence in their respective fields through hard-earned track records of profitability, business ethics and leadership,” said AZ Big Media Publisher Cheryl Green. “Az Business magazine is proud to congratulate the women who earned the right to call themselves one of the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business. They are changing the face of Arizona business.”
The women selected to this prestigious list for 2014 are:
Nazneen Aziz, Ph.D, senior vice president and chief research officer, Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Trish Bear, president and CEO, I-ology
Dr. Amy Beiter, president and CEO, Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital and Carondelet Heart & Vascular Institute
Janet G. Betts, member, Sherman & Howard
Kristin Bloomquist, executive vice president and general manager, Cramer-Krasselt
Delia Carlyle, councilwoman, Ak-Chin Indian Community
Luci Chen, partner, Arizona Center for Cancer Care
Mary Collum, senior vice president, National Bank of Arizona
Kathy Coover, co-founder, Isagenix International
Janna Day, managing partner, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
Karen Dickinson, shareholder, Polsinelli
Michele Finney, CEO, Abrazo Health
Susan Frank, CEO, Desert Schools Federal Credit Union
Leah Freed, managing shareholder, Ogletree Deakins
Deborah Griffin, president of the board of directors, Gila River Casinos
Mary Ann Guerra, CEO, BioAccel
Deb Gullett, senior specialist, Gallagher & Kennedy
Diane Haller, partner, Quarles & Brady
Maria Harper-Marinick, executive vice chancellor and provost, Maricopa Community Colleges
Catherine Hayes, principal, hayes architecture/interiors inc.
Camille Hill, president, Merestone
Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO, Arizona Science Center
Heidi Jannenga, founder, WebPT
Kara Kalkbrenner, acting fire chief, City of Phoenix
Lynne King Smith, CEO, TicketForce
Joan Koerber Walker, CEO, Arizona Bioindustry Association
Karen Kravitz, president and head of conceptology, Commotion Promotions
Deb Krmpotic, CEO, Banner Estrella Medical Center
Jessica Langbaum, PhD, principal scientist, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
Georgia Lord, mayor, City of Goodyear
Sherry Lund, founder, Celebration Stem Cell Centre
Teresa Mandelin, CEO, Southwestern Business Financing Corporation
Shirley Mays, dean, Arizona Summit Law School
Ann Meyers-Drysdale, vice president, Phoenix Mercury and Phoenix Suns
Marcia L. Mintz, president, John C. Lincoln Health Foundation
Martha C. Patrick, shareholder, Burch & Cracchiolo, P.A.
Stephanie J. Quincy, partner, Steptoe & Johnson
Barb Rechterman, chief marketing officer, GoDaddy
Marian Rhodes, senior vice president, Arizona Diamondbacks
Joyce Santis, chief operating officer, Sonora Quest Laboratories
Gena Sluga, partner, Christian Dichter & Sluga
Beth Soberg, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Arizona
Scarlett Spring, president, VisionGate
Patrice Strong-Register, managing partner, JatroBiofuels
Sarah A. Strunk, director, Fennemore Craig, P.C.
Marie Sullivan, president and CEO, Arizona Women’s Education & Employment
Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, director, UA’s Sarver Heart Center
Dana Vela, president, Sunrise Schools and Tots Unlimited
Alicia Wadas, COO, The Lavidge Company
Ginger Ward, CEO, Southwest Human Development
In addition to the Most Influential Women in Arizona Business, Az Business also selects five “Generation Next” women who are making an impact on Arizona, even though they are less than 40 years old. Those women selected for 2014 are:
Anca Bec, 36, business development officer, Alliance Bank of Arizona
Alison R. Christian, 32, shareholder, Christian Dichter & Sluga, P.C.
Jaime Daddona, 38, senior associate, Squire Patton Boggs
Nancy Kim, 36, owner, Spectrum Dermatology
Jami Reagan, 35, owner, Shine Factory Public Relations
To select the best and brightest women to recognize each year, the editor and publisher of Az Business magazine compile a list of almost 1,000 women from every facet of Arizona’s business landscape — banking, law, healthcare, bioscience, real estate, technology, manufacturing, retail, tourism, energy, accounting and nonprofits. Once that list is compiled, we vet the list, narrow it down to about 150 women who we feel are most deserving, and then submit the list to 20 of their peers — female leaders from a variety or industries — and ask them to vote. If they want to vote for someone whose name is not on the list of those submitted for consideration, voters are invited to write in the names of women who they think deserve to members of this exclusive club.
Az Business also does not allow a woman to appear on the list most than once.
The five-year APOE4 trial will involve more than 1,300 cognitively healthy older adults, ages 60 to 75, at high risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s because they inherited two copies of the apolipoprotein E (APOE4) gene—one from each parent. About 2 percent of the world’s population carries two copies of this gene and one in four people carry one copy of the APOE4 gene, which is strongly linked to late-onset Alzheimer’s.
The trial—subject to regulatory authority approval—will begin in 2015 at approximately 60 sites in Europe and North America, including BAI’s headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz. Participants will receive either the active immunotherapy or the oral medication or a placebo.
The study is partially funded by a $33.2 million grant commitment from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded in 2013, and
more than $15 million in philanthropic and in-kind contributions by Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation. It is part of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API), an international collaboration led by BAI to accelerate the evaluation of promising prevention therapies.
Today’s announcement of the partnership with Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, and the selection of the drugs to be studied, represent a dramatic investment in novel approaches to Alzheimer’s prevention research.
“We hope Novartis’s substantial investment of resources and expertise will lead to a significant breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research,” said Dr. Pierre N. Tariot, study director for BAI, an arm of Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit healthcare systems in the United States. “We are taking clinical trials to a critical new stage. This approach shifts the research paradigm from trying to reverse disease damage to attacking and preventing its cause, years before symptoms could surface.”
The active immunotherapy is aimed at triggering the body’s immune system to produce antibodies that attack different forms of the amyloid protein, which many researchers have suggested plays a critical role in the development of Alzheimer’s. The oral medication is a BACE (beta-secretase1) inhibitor, designed to prevent the production of different forms of the amyloid protein.
The two drugs, which will be tested separately, are intended to stop the accumulation of amyloid in ways that differ from the anti-amyloid antibody therapies now being tested in API’s Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s Disease (ADAD) trial in Colombia, and in two other prevention trials. The drugs are being introduced even before amyloid accumulates in some of the participants’ brains. The trial will increase the chance of finding treatments that will prevent, slow or delay the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities associated with Alzheimer’s.
The new study marks the second major trial associated with API. In 2012, NIH announced the long-term ADAD study of cognitively healthy individuals who are destined to develop Alzheimer’s at an unusually early age because of their genetic history. The $100 million study—funded by NIH, BAI and Genentech, a biotechnology company—is focused on approximately 300 members of an extraordinarily large family from Colombia who share a rare genetic mutation that typically triggers Alzheimer’s symptoms around age 45.
The ADAD study, a partnership of BAI, Genentech and the University of Antioquia in Colombia, is evaluating the amyloid antibody agent crenezumab.
“There are no guarantees that any of these investigational treatments will prevent the clinical onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Eric M. Reiman, one of the study directors for BAI. “But we are grateful for these opportunities to find out.”
The APOE4 and ADAD trials will be critical in determining whether anti-amyloid treatments are likely to show benefit for Alzheimer’s. Both trials include the best-established cognitive and biological measures of the disease, and a strategy that might make it possible to substantially shorten the time needed to conduct future prevention trials. Both trials also include precedent-setting agreements for the sharing of study data and biological samples after the studies conclude.
Volunteers for the APOE4 study will receive either active immunotherapy injections or a BACE inhibitor in pill form or a placebo. Participants will be recruited via multiple venues, including the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry website created by BAI in 2012. The registry (www.endALZnow.org) currently has more than 37,000 potential volunteers and is aiming to recruit more than 250,000.
The APOE4 study’s new website, which will launch in 2015, will create a platform to explain the study, register potential participants and provide disclosure information and consent forms. Volunteers who meet the study criteria will be asked to mail a sample of their genetic material (such as a cheek swab) to a laboratory. The volunteers will learn the results of that test in the context of possibly enrolling in the trial.
“This web research platform creates a powerful tool for any additional Alzheimer’s research,” said Jessica Langbaum, Ph.D., co-director of the study at BAI. “This infrastructure enables us to create more than just a single drug trial, but rather a template for testing a variety of treatments for many years to come.”
Volunteers who are selected will receive genetic counseling, as will others who are not chosen but who seek more information on their vulnerability. “We are keenly aware of the extreme sensitivity and emotional impact of disclosing genetic information,” Dr. Langbaum said. Volunteers accepted into the trial will already know they are at high risk, while others may learn of a lesser but still increased risk. For both of these groups, BAI will be providing more detailed information and genetic counseling in person, by phone or possibly through video-conferencing or telemedicine.
“We are excited about the chance to partner with Novartis, which has a longstanding commitment to the fight against Alzheimer’s and promising investigational treatments. They will conduct this study in a way that will be helpful to all stakeholders in the field,” said Dr. Tariot.
“We are now coming to believe that attacking Alzheimer’s disease, before clinical signs of memory loss and cognitive impairment become evident, may provide our best chance for effective therapies,” says Dr. Neil Buckholtz, Director of the Division of Neuroscience at the NIA. “These studies will be important in helping to determine if and how that can be done.”
Alzheimer’s is a debilitating and incurable disease that affects as many as 5 million Americans age 65 and older, according to a number of estimates. Without the discovery of successful prevention therapies, the number of U.S. cases is projected to nearly triple by 2050.
Here are some of the the Arizona innnovators who Az Business magazine thinks will be making waves in healthcare, energy, aerospace and technology in 2013:
Owner, Carter Law Firm
Her background: After graduating from ASU Law School in 2011, she opened her own law firm in January 2012 and focused her practice on social media law, intellectual property, business formation and contracts, and flash mob law. She will deliver a talk entitled “Protecting Your Copyrights in Digital Media” at the South By Southwest Interactive (SXSW) in March 2013. She also wrote the book “The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed.”
Fun fact: She was selected as an American Bar Association Legal Rebel in September 2012.
Her goal for 2013: To help entrepreneurs, writers, and artists turn their ideas into reality, to help them push the limits of what’s possible without crossing the line.
Michelle De Blasi
Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig
Her background: De Blasi focuses her practice on environmental law, with an emphasis on natural resources matters. She advises local and multi-national clients on energy and environmental sustainability, including the development of traditional and renewable energy power plants, climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions. She is a leader in many community organizations, including serving as the Co-Chair of the Arizona Energy Consortium, which has recently released the Arizona Energy Roadmap to further develop the state’s energy industry.
Fun fact: “I wanted to be an environmental attorney since junior high. Working for six years at NOAA starting in law school was an amazing way to begin my career.”
Her goal for 2013: “Continue to assist my clients’ growth and expansion, including improving the regulatory and business atmosphere in the areas where they are located.”
Her background: BioAccel was named the most promising initiative among the six winners of SSTI’s 2012 Excellence in TBED (technology-based economic development) awards. In three years, BioAccel — whose mission is to transform high-risk technologies into new businesses and high-wage jobs — has supported 11 companies in Arizona, investing more than $4 million directly as well as helping get an additional $15.5 million in downstream funding.
Fun fact: “I love camping outdoors in tents. After gathering wood from the forest, I build the campfire, cook, then relax under the moonlight — with wine if possible.”
Her goal for 2013: “Personally: spend more time with my husband. Professionally: expand BioAccel’s overall capacity, validate BioInspire as a model and help launch the BioAccel Accelerator Fund.”
President and CEO, Arizona Science Center
Her background: She oversees the $8 million operation of Arizona Science Center’s 185,000-square-foot facilities with more than 400 employees and volunteers. She is in line to become the next president of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, an international organization representing science centers and museums with more than 600 members in over 40 countries worldwide. She currently serves as its secretary-treasurer.
Fun fact: Humphrey secured the largest gift in the Center’s history – $3.5 million.
Her goal for 2013: “Maintain excellence as Arizona’s largest provider of informal science education while providing educators with professional development and resources supporting the new common core education standards.”
Founder and CEO, Traklight.com
Her background: While earning her JD at ASU, Juetten combined her new knowledge of the law with accounting designations and 25 years of management, business and financial consulting experience to create Traklight.com in 2010. Traklight is an online software as service company that offers products for inventors, creators, start-up or small companies to identify, secure, and manage their intellectual property to reduce the risk of infringement and IP loss, all without any prior knowledge of IP.
Fun fact: She played ice hockey in Canada and Phoenix.
Her goal for 2013: “I plan to spend more time outside with my husband: golfing and hiking. Traklight will build upon our October launch and expand nationally in 2013.”
Vice president of clinical operations
Clinical Research Advantage
Her background: Kundert received the 2012 Silver Stevie Award — which honors the world’s bets and brightest female entrepreneurs and executives — for Female Executive of the Year in the Business Services category. Kundert has been a driving force behind the rapid growth of CRA, a clinical trial management organization that has helped trial sponsors bring drugs to market more quickly and efficiently.
Fun fact: She was born in Germany on Christmas Day.
Her goal for 2013: “My goal is to open 20 new clinical trial sites.”
Principal scientist, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
Her background: Langbaum is actively involved in research activities focusing on the use of brain imaging for studying the earliest evidence of Alzheimer’s and on the design and execution of preclinical Alzheimer’s treatment trials. Langbaum has published papers in leading scientific journals on cognitive training, brain imaging and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fun fact: Her family has been in Arizona for generations.
Her goal for 2013: “Enroll 100,000 people in our Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry (endALZnow.org/registry), launch the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API)/Genentech trial, prepare for the next API-led trial, and potty train my son.”
Paula O’Neal Wichterman
Vice president, medical private banker, National Bank of Arizona
Her background: Wichterman is vice president in the Private Bank of National Bank of Arizona. Prior to joining NB|AZ, she spent 9 years in various advisor roles at two other lending institutions in both private banking and credit administration. In her role at NB|AZ, Wichterman is responsible for increasing NB|AZ’s focus on the physician and medical banking market.
Fun fact: “Being the Southern girl that I am, I LOVE to shoot sporting clays. It is a great stress reliever after a long week at work.”
Her goal for 2013: “I want to always inspire my family and friends. I try my best to lead by example. Whether it is at home or at work, I want to be the best that I can be.”
Partner, Snell & Wilmer
Her background: Perez is an Arizona native who holds a biology degree from Harvard University and law degree from The University of Arizona. She practices law in the field of business and finance, with special attention to representing clients in the biotechnology industry. Perez represents companies at all stages of their life cycle, from start-up to liquidity. Perez is committed to using her education and experience to improve the strength of Arizona’s economy by facilitating the growth of Arizona’s biotech industry.
Fun fact: Formed Snell & Wilmer’s Bioscience and Healthcare Industry Group shortly after graduating from law school.
Her goal for 2013: “Contribute to the success of my firm and clients by providing sound legal advice; support Arizona’s biotech industry; and shower my young family with love.”
Vice president and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network, Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz)
Her background: Renfro is leading the way for Arizona’s STEM — science, technology, engineering, math — education initiatives. She spearheaded the development of SFAz’s Arizona STEM Network, a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system. The Network will help teachers and students prepare for the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards, higher-education and careers that will help ensure our state remains globally competitive.
Fun fact: Arizona is just one of 16 states in the U.S. with developing or existing STEM Networks.
Her goal for 2013: “Increase the access and quality of STEM opportunities for Arizona’s students and teachers to inspire excitement and achievement in math and science.”
President and CEO, Regenesis Biomedical, Inc.
Her background: Rybski has combined 35 years of experience founding, building and growing emerging bioscience companies by developing and launching numerous advanced-technology, healthcare related products. She strategically positioned the company as a regenerative medicine business; raised $5.3 million in capital; has grows sales for 8 consecutive years; and helped it earn a position on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America in 2012.
Her goal for 2013: “Focus on improving patient care, and helping to provide better patient outcomes while lowering the overall cost of care. Healthcare, now more than ever, needs collaboration between providers, patients, and manufacturers like Regenesis, to help rein in spiraling costs.”
Chief science officer, Arizona Cancer Therapeutics
Her background: Schroeder, program co-leader in Cancer Biology and Genetics at the Arizona Cancer Center, is moving toward clinical trials for breast cancer treatment that inhibits metastatic breast cancer growth at cellular level and it is non-toxic. In layman’s terms, this could block breast cancer growth without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. She is also associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona.
Fun fact: She is an avid Stephen King reader and loves Star Wars.
Her goal for 2013: “My goal for 2013 is to get our breast cancer drug approved by the FDA to be given to patients.”
Manager of Sustainability Initiatives and Technologies, SRP
Her background: Singleton’s primary focus at SRP is environmental and renewable energy issues. Under her direction, SRP has provided incentives to more than 12,000 customers who have installed solar energy systems on their homes and businesses. In addition, she is an active volunteer and effective advocate serving on the boards of Audubon of Arizona and the National Solar Energy Power Association.
Fun fact: “Ballroom dancing is my passion. For me, it not only helps keep me physically fit but allows me to focus on something other than looming deadlines and work projects.”
Her goal for 2013: “As a Valley Forward board member, I will work to promote environmental quality statewide, elevate our state’s image and drive balanced policy as the organization evolves into Arizona Forward.”
Vice president of business and policy development, American Solar
Her background: Since joining Scottsdale-based American Solar in 2009, Seitz has been a leading advocate for Arizona’s solar industry, making her presence felt everywhere that decisions are made about solar energy — city halls, Salt River Project and the Arizona Corporation Commission. Her company has designed and installed solar electric for more than 3,500 customers and created partnership with homebuilders including Shea Homes and AV Homes.
Fun fact: “I am a proud ASU West Campus graduate from the School of Global Management and Leadership, with an emphasis in finance.”
Her goal for 2013: “To put the power of solar energy into the hand of every homeowner. It is time that every Arizona homeowner understands that they can control what energy powers their home.”
Principal, Arapahoe SciTech
Her background: Wardell’s technology focus includes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and associated sensor technologies. By developing partnerships with other innovators, she has been able to tackle technical challenges in emerging fields such as those in polar science. One example is a sterilization system for an ice drill that will access an Antarctic sub-glacial lake below a half-mile of ice to explore this unknown frontier on our planet.
Fun fact: Wardell has worked on all seven continents.
Her goal for 2013: “My goals include continued development of technology for exploration (both Earth and beyond) and to increase my focus on outreach activities to inspire students.”