Tag Archives: NAU

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TGen and NAU pandemic flu test patent approved

The federal government has awarded a patent to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) for a test that can detect — and assist in the treatment of — the H1N1 pandemic flu strain.

TGen and NAU initially developed this precise, genomics-based test during a significant global swine flu outbreak in 2009.

The newly-patented test, developed at TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division (TGen North) in Flagstaff, can not only detect influenza — as some tests do now — but also can quickly inform doctors about what strain of flu it is, and whether it is resistant to oseltamivir (sold by Roche under the brand name Tamiflu), the primary anti-viral drug on the market to treat H1N1.

As with other influenza strains, H1N1 flu can over time be expected to show signs of resistance to oseltamivir, and new treatments will be needed to respond to future pandemics.

“The problem with influenza is that it can become resistant to the antiviral drugs that are out there,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen North, a Regents Professor of Biology at NAU and one of the test’s inventors. “Because it is a virus, it easily mutates and becomes resistant.”

David Engelthaler, Director of Programs and Operations for TGen North and another of the test’s inventors, said this flu detection and susceptibility test uses a molecular technique that rapidly makes exact copies of specific components of H1N1′s genetic material.

“Many people, including physicians, don’t realize that the pandemic swine flu strain from 2009 is still the most important flu strain out there. This assay is very effective with detecting and characterizing this dominant strain in the U.S. and around the world,” said Engelthaler, the former State Epidemiologist for Arizona, and former State of Arizona Biodefense Coordinator.

The third inventor of the test is TGen North Lab Manager Elizabeth Driebe.

Previously, only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and a few select labs could look for resistance, using time-intensive technology.

“This new test puts the power in the hands of the clinician to determine if their drugs will work or not. This is really important moving forward as we discover new strains that are resistant to antivirals,” Engelthaler said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified dozens of instances in which H1N1 was resistant to Tamiflu.

At most doctors’ offices, there is no readily available test for H1N1. Such tests generally are conducted by state and federal health agencies, and usually for those patients who require hospitalization and appear at high risk because they have a suppressed immune system or they have a chronic disease.

“Our test measures minute amounts of virus and minute changes to the virus. Not only does it detect when resistance is occurring, but it also detects it at the earliest onset possible,” Engelthaler said.

This new patent — No. US 8,808,993 B2, issued Aug. 19 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — could be licensed for development of test kits or for development of a testing service.

Earlier this year, TGen-NAU celebrated its first joint patent for a genomics-based test that can identify most of the world’s fungal infections that threaten human health.

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TGen and NAU celebrate 5-year research pact

Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) announced a five-year agreement to promote innovation and quality research benefiting Arizona.

The NAU-TGen Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) implements the allocation of state funding as directed by Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature, and reaffirms the commitment of both institutions toward quality research, training and educational opportunities, protection of public health and improved patient care. The Governor and Legislature recommitted state funding support as part of the 2014-15 state budget, recognizing the positive dividends from a viable, competitive bioindustry in Arizona.

“TGen has played a valuable role in developing and advancing Arizona’s bioscience industry,” said Governor Brewer. “From delivering medical breakthroughs and first-rate research — to creating quality jobs and growing our economy — TGen is a shining example of the innovative companies we seek to attract and expand in Arizona. By enhancing the successful partnership between TGen and NAU, we can ensure that both our bioscience industry and our economy will continue to thrive for years to come.”

NAU and TGen also announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved a patent for a new set of genetically-based tests, jointly developed by NAU and TGen, that accurately identify fungal pathogens that threaten public health worldwide. Broad-based identification of fungi is essential for clinical diagnostics and also for environmental testing. This is the first of many patents anticipated through NAU-TGen collaborations.

The two institutions also are celebrating other joint research, including highly accurate, genetically-based tests for detecting and monitoring Valley Fever, influenza and different types of staph bacteria infections, especially the potentially deadly Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA.

These achievements, and numerous other collaborations underway between NAU and TGen, will be celebrated at 2 p.m. today at NAU’s Applied Research and Development building.

The NAU-TGen developed genetic-based tests allow real-time tests in any location, including laboratories, but also clinics, physician offices, emergency rooms and even field settings. Immediate diagnosis of pathogens is a critical part of TGen’s push for precision medicine, in which patients receive the correct treatments as quickly as possible, speeding their recovery and saving lives.

The genetic-based tests for various pathogens were developed by a team from NAU and TGen that includes Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division (also known as TGen North) in Flagstaff, and a Regents Professor and Cowden Endowed Chair in Microbiology at NAU.

“These advanced diagnostics have far reaching implications for protecting public health, quickly treating patients and lowering the cost of healthcare,” Dr. Keim said. “Through our joint NAU-TGen research, we are continuing to develop tools and technologies that have a great impact on human health.”

This joint effort has generated other intellectual property, stimulated the founding of a startup company, and now generates licensing revenues for both NAU and TGen.

“Our relationship with TGen exemplifies the importance of the biosciences to NAU and to Arizona’s economy,” said NAU President John Haeger. “An important mission of our university is to produce research with direct benefits to the state and to the world, and together with TGen that is what we are accomplishing. We look forward to much more.”

Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director, praised President Haeger, Gov. Brewer and the Arizona Legislature for helping ensure TGen’s continuing role in stimulating local research that directly benefits Arizona patients.

“We are enormously grateful to Governor Brewer and the state Legislature, particularly the leadership, for their continuing confidence and support in us,” said Dr. Trent. “In addition, as demonstrated by the leadership and cooperation of President Haeger, Dr. Keim and NAU, there is no question that these types of collaborations between universities and research institutions can result in significant commercial applications.”

Rita Cheng

Cheng succeeds Haeger as NAU president

The Arizona Board of Regents has approved the selection of Rita Cheng as president of Northern Arizona University.

The vote came during a special board meeting Wednesday in Phoenix.

Cheng has been the chancellor of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale since mid-2010. She’ll begin as NAU’s 16th president on Aug. 15.

The regents will be looking to Cheng to increase enrollment at the university that serves 26,000 students at dozens of campuses statewide and online.

Cheng will earn an annual base salary of $390,000 under her three-year contract. She’ll also get yearly allowances of $10,000 for a vehicle and $50,000 for housing.

Cheng succeeds John Haeger, who served 13 years as NAU president. He plans to remain at the school as a professor in higher education leadership and governance.

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Cole Real Estate Investments, Inc. Announces Tender Offer

Cole Real Estate Investments, Inc., (NYSE: COLE), formerly known as Cole Credit Property Trust III, Inc., announced today that it has commenced a modified “Dutch auction” tender offer to purchase for cash up to $250 million in value of its shares of common stock on the terms and subject to the conditions described in its Offer to Purchase dated June 20, 2013. Under the terms of the tender offer, the company intends to select the lowest price, not greater than $13.00 nor less than $12.25 per share, net to the tendering stockholder in cash, less any applicable withholding taxes and without interest, which would enable the company to purchase the maximum number of shares having an aggregate purchase price not exceeding $250 million. Stockholders may tender all or a portion of their shares of common stock. Stockholders also may choose not to tender any of their shares of common stock. If the tender offer is oversubscribed, shares will be accepted on a prorated basis, subject to “odd lot” priority. The company intends to fund the purchase price for shares of common stock accepted for payment pursuant to the tender offer, and all related fees and expenses, from available cash and/or borrowings under the existing senior unsecured credit facility.

The tender offer and withdrawal rights will expire at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on August 8, 2013, unless the tender offer is extended or withdrawn. If stockholders elect to tender shares of common stock, they must choose the price or prices at which they wish to tender their shares and follow the instructions described in the Offer to Purchase, the related letter of transmittal and the other documents related to the tender offer filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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NAU Introduces Personalized Learning

Ushering in a new chapter in 21st century higher education, Northern Arizona University (NAU) announced the launch of its Personalized Learning program, offering accredited, competency-based online bachelor’s degrees for just $5,000 a year. Initial degrees include Computer Information Technology, Liberal Arts and Small Business Administration. Students can begin the application process at www.nau.edu/personalizedlearning.

“Personalized Learning marks a watershed moment in higher education,” said John Haeger, president of Northern Arizona University. “As the first public university to launch this kind of competency-based program, Northern Arizona University is opening an entirely new level of access to a respected university education.”

Unlike standard online courses that offer repackaged content from traditional classrooms, or today’s popular MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses), NAU’s Personalized Learning program enables students to earn a bachelor’s degree online in a time- and cost- effective manner by crediting their existing knowledge and tailoring coursework to their learning preferences.

“Personalized Learning takes the learning objectives of traditional college coursework and reorganizes them to be more engaging and applicable to today’s workplace,” said Fred Hurst, senior vice president, NAU-Extended Campuses and creator of Personalized Learning. “This program is about creating a skilled and inspired adult workforce with the necessary critical thinking skills that meet the demands of employers.”

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TGen, NAU awarded $2 million to study biodiversity

Potential connections between the biodiversity of soil microorganisms and the carbon cycle will be studied by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) under a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The TGen-NAU project was one of 14 recently awarded a grant by NSF under the Dimensions of Biodiversity program.

“The work will test the idea that biodiversity is a fundamental driver of the carbon cycle, connecting microbes to the entire Earth system,” said Dr. Bruce Hungate, Professor of Biology and a Director in NAU’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research.

The project will investigate “a surprising response” to changes in soil carbon levels: When new carbon enters the soil, a chain reaction leads to the breakdown of older soil carbon that otherwise would have remained stable, Dr. Hungate said.

“Current theory does not explain this chain reaction,” Dr. Hungate said. “The project will explore new dimensions connecting the diversity of the tree of life with the carbon cycle.”

TGen’s role in the project leverages advances in metagenomic sequencing — spelling out the DNA code of microbial samples from the environment  —made by Dr. Lance Price, Director of TGen’s Center for Microbiomics and Human Health, and Dr. Cindy M. Liu, a medical doctor and researcher at both TGen and NAU, who now works for Johns Hopkins University.

“This project is a natural extension of our efforts to understand how the human microbiome responds to injuries, surgeries and chemicals,” Dr. Price said. “Here, we’re investigating how the planet’s microbiome responds to excess carbon inputs, which may in turn loop back to negatively affect public health.”

The work is important, Dr. Hungate said, because soil carbon is a major reservoir in the global carbon cycle, storing about three times the amount of carbon contained in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Some soil processes promote carbon storage, locking it away in stable forms, resistant to decay.

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TGen’s Keim named AZBio’s 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year

TGDr. Paul Keim, Director of the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at Northern Arizona University (NAU), will receive the 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year award from the Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio).

“Dr. Keim was nominated by members of the Arizona Bioscience Community and selected by an independent, statewide panel of leaders for this recognition of his research and innovation in the field of pathogen genomics and microbiology,” said AZBio President and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker.

His award will be presented at the 7th annual AZBio Awards on Oct. 23 at the Phoenix Convention Center. An industry showcase and student discovery session are scheduled from 3-5:30 p.m., and the awards gala is from 6-9 p.m.

“AZBio’s recognition of Dr. Keim is extraordinarily well deserved,” said TGen President and Scientific Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent. “Paul’s unique achievements in interpreting the microbial genomes of pathogens — both those that naturally cause disease, but also those made into weapons by terrorists — are of profound importance.  His research, coupled to his dedications to his students and to the cause of public health globally, place him in the upper echelon of premier scientists, and puts Arizona on the map in this critical growing area of research.”

Dr. Keim is a world-renowned expert in anthrax and other infectious diseases. At TGen and NAU he directs investigations into how to bolster the nation’s biodefense, and to prevent outbreaks — even pandemics — of such contagions as flu, cholera, E. coli, salmonella, and even the plague.

“Our science has been completely transformed by the rapid advancements of technology. Now, TGen’s job is to rapidly advance our science to make great impacts on human health. We have that ability, therefore, we feel that we have that responsibility,” said Dr. Keim, a Professor at TGen and Regents Professor of Microbiology at NAU.

Dr. Keim also is Director of NAU’s Microbial Genetics & Genomics Center, a program that works with numerous government agencies to help thwart bioterrorism and the spread of pathogen-caused diseases.

Since 2004, he has been a member of the federal government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). He helped draft national guidelines for blunting bioterrorism while elevating ethical standards and improving the quality of scientific research. Dr. Keim’s work at the NSABB includes recently serving two years as the acting Chair.

While TGen this year celebrates a decade of progress, TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, also known as TGen North in Flagstaff, is celebrating five years of protecting human health though genomic investigations of some of humankind’s most deadly microbes.

“Paul Keim’s work ranges broadly — from plague in prairie dogs, to cholera in Haiti,” said NAU Provost Laura Huenneke. “Here at NAU, literally hundreds of students, both undergraduate and graduate, have participated in that research and launched from there into successful careers. His research group has also grown into the strong partnership between the university and TGen North — a huge economic development dividend for Flagstaff.’’

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NAU poised to set enrollment records

Based on the first week of student registration, Northern Arizona University’s Mountain Campus appears to be on track for another year of record enrollment.

A university spokesman says the incoming freshman class totals about 4,100 and enrollment in Flagstaff is up by 700 to 18,200.

Both of those marks would be records.

Statewide, enrollment at NAU is expected to top 26,000 students.

The Arizona Daily Sun says the official count will come on the 21st day of classes at NAU.

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Nearly $1 billion infused into Arizona’s economy from universities’ research

Last year, nearly $1 billion was infused into Arizona’s economy as a result of research at Arizona’s public universities, according to the recently released Arizona Board of Regents 2011 research report. The report details research expenditures as well as the economic, social and scholarly impact that results from research in the Arizona University System, indicating a significant positive impact on the state through new jobs, knowledge and dollars reinvested in the community.

“Research at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona provides a tremendous benefit to our community and the world around us,” said Regent Rick Myers, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents. “Research leads not only to transformational discoveries that directly benefit the people of this state and beyond, but it generates jobs, facilitates partnerships, reinvests dollars into the community, attracts top faculty talent, and makes the undergraduate learning experience more rich through instruction and hands-on learning with elite faculty. Research at our universities is a very complex but extremely successful enterprise and its international reputation is a point of pride for our state.”

Last year, the Board of Regents adopted a series of performance metrics to manage and measure university and system productivity and progress in four key areas, including research excellence. Research metrics measure progress in total research expenditures, number of doctoral degrees awarded, number of invention disclosures transacted, number of patents issued, intellectual property income and national public research university ranking. In fiscal year 2011, the research enterprise met or exceeded the enterprise goals in invention disclosures, U.S. patents issued, intellectual property income, and start-up companies. Research expenditures fell just short of reaching the 2011 goal of $1,009.3 billion by $12.7 million. The universities are implementing measures to ensure the 2012 goal of $1,045.6 billion is met.

Through research activity at the universities, millions of dollars are reinvested annually into the community. In 2011, Arizona’s public universities generated nearly $1 billion in research expenditures, dollars that become purchases and lead to employment within Arizona.

Medical School

Medical School In Phoenix Has Its Largest Class

Eighty students will arrive this week for classes at the University of Arizona’s medical school in Phoenix.

Those students represent the largest class since the university’s College of Medicine established a downtown Phoenix campus five years ago.

The students soon will share the newly opened health sciences education building with Northern Arizona University students studying to become physical therapists and physician assistants.

The campus is scheduled to expand later this year with the groundbreakings of a 250,000-square-foot University of Arizona Cancer Center and a privately funded biotech lab next to the building anchored by the Translational Genomics Research Institute and International Genomics Consortium.

The Arizona Cancer Center is slated to become the campus’ first clinical presence with a scheduled groundbreaking later this year.

For more information on University of Arizona’s medical school, visit their website medicine.arizona.edu.

Hilltop And McConnell, AZRE September/October 2011

Education: Hilltop And McConnell, NAU


HILLTOP & MCCONNELL: PRIVATIZED STUDENT HOUSING AT NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY

Developer: American Campus Communities
General contractor: Hardison/Downey Construction, Inc.
Architect: Todd & Associates
Location: NAU campus, Flagstaff
Size: 434,058 SF

Hilltop and McConnell are two student housing projects combine for 1,126 beds in 419 units. The $60.6M project will consist of two separate developments: a modern residence hall called McConnell (550 beds) and a student townhouse community called Hilltop (576 beds). Subcontractors include Hilty’s Electric, Dial Mechanical, Associated Cement Contractors and TKO. Expected completion is 3Q 2012.

AZRE Magazine, September/October 2011
Native American Cultural Center, AZRE March/April 2011

Public: Native American Cultural Center

NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER

Developer: Northern Arizona University
Design Builder: Brignall Construction
Architect: Studio Ma
Size: 12,000 SF
Location: Knoles/McCrearey Dr., Flagstaff

The $4.85M Native American cultural center will be housed at NAU’s North Campus. It will include large gathering rooms, student meeting rooms, director and graduate offices, student lounge areas and conference rooms. Subcontractors include Midstate Mechanical, JF Ellis, SEACON Electric, Skyce Steel, Bold Framing, Ignace Brothers and Kinney Construction Services. Expected completion is 3Q 2011.

AZRE March/April 2011
black history month 2011

Companies Devote Time To Black History Month

As we kick off Black History Month, Arizona companies devote time for sharing, caring and supporting ethnic communities. Employers understand the importance of spreading the love and have done so with educational scholarships, funding for schools and free entertainment.

USAA

United Services Automobile Association (USAA), an investment and insurance company, offers specific educational opportunities during this month. Classes on leadership skills, how to take control of finances and programs that support growth and opportunity are provided.

Payless  ShoeSource

Payless ShoeSource, a national shoe distribution company, offers the Inspiring Possibilities Scholarship Program, which supports the future of African American and other minority youth. Beginning Feb. 1, Payless will sell a limited-edition I believe accessory for $3. This accessory will be available online at Payless’ website and in 800 stores nationwide. The store will donate a minimum of $35,000 to the scholarship program. The program is designed to distribute about a dozen scholarships to African American and other minority youth for the 2011-2012 seasons.

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble, the world’s largest bookseller, is honoring Black History Month with special events and promotions. They will have story-telling events, various speakers, tables with books for all ages, including picture books and autobiographies. An April Harrison tote bag will be sold; proceeds will go back into ethnic communities. Special pricing will be in place this month to support the learning, economic, social and political growth of African Americans. black history 2011, Flickr, See-ming Lee

Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans, the largest online loan servicing company, is giving away more than $20,000 in scholarships. Five years ago, Quicken Loans started giving away one of six scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to each winner. The money goes to the child’s school of choice to help promote education and spread Black History. Joined with Fathead, a leading brand in sports and entertainment graphic products, they allow children to go online and register for the scholarships by stating why Black History Month is important.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) celebrates Black History Month many ways, but the big talk is John Legend coming to ASU’s Tempe campus Feb. 8 for a free concert to anyone with a SunCard. Legend will have a brief discussion on what Black History means to him before signing some of his songs. Two free tickets are available to ASU students, faculty and staff.

AP and Associates/Phoenix International Raceway

AP and Associates, creator of the Checkered Flag Run in Arizona, will have celebrity appearances, NASCAR race, activities and major sponsors for inaugural event hosted by Second II None Motorcycle Club at the Talking Stick Resort and Casino and Phoenix International Raceway (PIR).  There will be over $50,000 in prizes and a chance to accompany PIR President Bryan Sperber to the trophy winner. They will be highlighting the diversity that motorcycle enthusiasts have along with supporting organizations that work to benefit local African American communities in both Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University (NAU) features a list of Black History events throughout the month. Men’s Basketball vs. Montana State will have Black Student Union students sitting together to show their support for NAU’s men and women basketball teams. Step Afrika is a step show, an art form born at African American fraternities, at the university for free. Apollo Night with Keedar Whittle, a reenactment of the historic Apollo Theatre, will show famous Black historic moments. And  month-end closing barbecue, sponsored by Coconino County African American Advisory Council, will have free food.


Black History Month is a time for everyone to get together and enjoy a piece of history that leads to a brighter future. For more information on Black History, visit http://www.infoplease.com/black-history-month/.