Tag Archives: study

Breast cancer treatment

Banner MDA engaged in cutting-edge study

A cutting-edge research study at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is testing the safety and effectiveness of a new investigational drug that, when combined with chemotherapy, may make a major difference in treating breast cancer in patients who carry harmful mutations on either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

The Brocade Study will enroll patients with hereditary breast cancer that is metastatic, meaning it has spread to other parts of the body, or locally recurrent, meaning it has come back in the same original area. These patients also have mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, similar to the kind that actress Angelina Jolie inherited. The study is examining the results of the oral drug Veliparib when taken in combination with chemotherapy treatments.

“These breast cancers can be very difficult to treat with traditional chemotherapy regimens. If Veliparib is found to add to the effectiveness of chemotherapy, it would give patients with BRCA mutations and metastatic breast cancer a new option for therapy,” said Mary Cianfrocca, MD, director of the Breast Cancer Program and medical director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at Banner MD Anderson. Dr Cianfrocca is also the principal investigator for the Brocade Study at Banner MD Anderson.

Veliparib is designed to prevent the cancer cell from repairing itself by blocking a protein called PARP, possibly making the cell more susceptible to anti-cancer drugs. Banner MD Anderson is the only health care facility in Arizona which is offering the study. To learn more about the BROCADE study call 480-256-3420 or visit, www.brocadestudy.com.

Banner MD Anderson, located on the Banner Gateway campus, delivers cancer care to patients in Arizona through the collaboration of Banner Health and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Banner MD Anderson offers focused disease-specific expertise in the medical, radiation and surgical management of the cancer patient. The center uses an evidence-based, multidisciplinary approach to patient care, and provides access to clinical trials and new investigative therapies. Banner MD Anderson also offers state-of-the-art technology for diagnosing, staging and treating all types of cancer. For more information, visit www.BannerMDAnderson.com.

first solar - new ceo

Study: Humble CEOs Good for Business

Forget the stereotypes of arrogant, macho leaders who don’t care about anyone else’s opinion. A new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows humble CEOs significantly benefit a company and its management — likely more than the blowhards who think it’s their way or the highway.

“Humble CEOs are more open to making joint decisions and empowering others,” says Professor Angelo Kinicki of the W. P. Carey School of Business, one of the study authors. “Their behavior positively affects both top and middle managers, who then exhibit higher commitment, work engagement, job satisfaction and job performance. We see a trickle-down effect that seems to influence the company overall.”

The new research published in Administrative Science Quarterly comes from Kinicki, Anne Tsui and David Waldman of the W. P. Carey School of Business, as well Amy Ou of the National University of Singapore, Zhixing Xiao of George Washington University, and Lynda Jiwen Song of the Renmin University of China.

They interviewed the CEOs of 63 private companies in China. They also created and administered surveys measuring humility and its effects to about 1,000 top- and middle-level managers who work with those CEOs. The researchers specifically chose China because they needed a context in which CEOs would display a wide variety of humility levels. However, they believe the findings will generalize to many companies in the United States.

“Our study suggests the ‘secret sauce’ of great, humble managers,” explains Kinicki. “They are more willing to seek feedback about themselves, more empathetic and appreciative of others’ strengths and weaknesses, and more focused on the greater good and others’ welfare than on themselves.”

Kinicki says leadership behavior normally cascades downward, so it’s likely humility at the top effects just about everyone at a company. He points out a few examples of humble CEOs making news:

* Tony Hsieh of Zappos is a Harvard graduate, who helped boost his company to more than $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. He also helped drive Zappos onto Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, with innovative customer- and employee-pleasing policies, such as “The Offer,” where new employees are offered one-month’s salary to leave the company if they’re not dedicated and happy.

* John Mackey of Whole Foods has shown concern for the greater good through his advocacy of organic food and spearheading his company’s move to become the first grocery-store chain to set standards for humane animal treatment. He also announced in 2006 that he was chopping his salary to $1, putting caps on executive pay, and setting up a $100,000 emergency fund for staff facing personal problems.

* Mary Barra of General Motors has faced severe criticism for problems created at the company before she took the helm in January. However, she has been quick to apologize and maintain that she’s moving from a “cost culture” to a “customer culture” at GM. She has promised to do “the right thing” for those affected by recent recalls and the problems that led to them.

Kinicki knows some people may be surprised by the study results, but he summarizes, “It’s time we understood that humility isn’t a sign of weakness or lacking confidence, but rather, a good thing that can benefit us all.”

The full study is available at http://asq.sagepub.com/content/59/1/34.full.pdf+html.

cancer

TGen finds clue to stop spread of lung cancer

Two cell surface receptors might be responsible for the most common form of lung cancer spreading to other parts of the body, according to a study led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The hepatocyte growth factor receptor (HGFR/MET) and fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (FN14) are proteins associated with the potential spread of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to the TGen study published online April 8 by the scientific journal Clinical & Experimental Metastasis.

NSCLC represents more than 85 percent of all lung cancers, which this year will kill an estimated 159,000 Americans, making it by far the leading cause of cancer-related death. It has a 5-year survival rate less than 10 percent.

The invasive and metastatic nature of NSCLC contributes to this high mortality rate, and so finding the cause of this potential to spread is key to helping patients survive.

Therapies targeting MET and FN14 are in clinical development, which could lead to treatments that could help halt or slow the spread of this lung cancer.

“As the metastatic phenotype is a major cause of lung cancer mortality, understanding and potentially targeting these pathways may reduce the high mortality rate in advanced lung cancer,” said Dr. Timothy Whitsett, an Assistant Professor in TGen’s Cancer and Cell Biology Division, and the study’s lead author.

Significantly, the TGen study found that MET and FN14 were elevated in metastatic tumors compared to primary lung tumors and suppression of MET activation or FN14 expression reduced tumor cell invasion.

“The elevation of these receptors in metastatic disease opens the possibility for therapeutic intervention,” said Dr. Nhan Tran, an Associate Professor in TGen’s Cancer and Cell Biology Division, and the study’s senior author.

Dr. Glen Weiss, Co-Unit Head of TGen’s Lung Cancer Research Laboratory and Director of Clinical Research at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center, said, “This study identifies some targets that already have drugs in clinical trials, and helps put them into context for what might be a rational drug development approach for the treatment of this deadly cancer.”

Other institutes that assisted with this study are: the University of Arizona; St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center; and Humboldt Medical Specialists.

The study, FN14 expression correlates with MET in NSCLC and promotes MET-driven cell invasion, was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and grants from the St. Joseph’s Foundation and the American Lung Association.

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UA Study Shows Glucosamine Is Ineffective

A short-term study led by C. Kent Kwoh, MD, director of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center, and a collaborative team of researchers has found that oral glucosamine supplementation is not associated with a lessening of knee cartilage deterioration among individuals with chronic knee pain.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Boston University, Texas Woman’s University in Houston and Klinikum Augsburg in Augsburg, Germany. Dr. Kwoh, who previously was with the University of Pittsburgh and VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, is corresponding author of the study.

“Our study found no evidence that drinking a glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain,” said Dr. Kwoh. An internationally recognized expert in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other joint diseases, he also is UA professor of medicine and medical imaging, The Charles A.L. and Suzanne M. Stephens Chair of Rheumatology, and chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

The findings, published online March 11 in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), indicate that glucosamine does not decrease pain or improve knee bone marrow lesions—more commonly known as bone bruises and thought to be a source of pain in those with osteoarthritis (OA).

According to the ACR, 27 million Americans over age 25 are diagnosed with OA—the most common form of arthritis and primary cause of disability in the elderly. Patients may seek alternative therapies to treat joint pain and arthritis, with prior research showing glucosamine as the second-most commonly used natural product. A 2007 Gallup poll reported that 10 percent of individuals over the age of 18 in the United States use glucosamine. According to the website www.nutraingredients-usa.com, global sales of the supplement in 2010 totaled more than $2.1 billion.

“The Joints on Glucosamine (Jog) Study: The Effect of Oral Glucosamine on Joint Structure, A Randomized Trial” is the first study to investigate whether the supplement prevents the worsening of cartilage damage or bone marrow lesions.

For the double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, Dr. Kwoh and colleagues enrolled 201 participants with mild-to-moderate pain in one or both knees. Participants were randomized and treated daily for 24 weeks with 1,500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride in a 16-ounce bottle of diet lemonade or a placebo. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to assess cartilage damage.

Trial results showed no decrease in cartilage damage in participants in the glucosamine group, compared to the placebo group. Researchers report no change in bone marrow lesions in 70 percent of knees, 18 percent of knees worsened and 10 percent improved.

The control group had greater improvement in bone marrow lesions compared to treated participants, with neither group displaying a worsening of bone marrow lesions. Glucosamine was not found to decrease urinary excretion of C-telopeptides of type II collagen (CTX-II)—a predictor of cartilage destruction.

In addition to Dr. Kwoh, researchers who contributed to the study included Ali Guermazi, MD, Boston University; Frank W. Roemer, MD, Boston University, Mass., and Klinikum Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany; Michael J. Hannon, John M. Jakicic, MD, Stephanie M. Green, Rhobert W. Evans, PhD, and Robert Boudreau, PhD, University of Pittsburgh; and Carolyn E. Moore, PhD, Texas Woman’s University, Houston.

The study was funded by the Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness, The Coca-Cola Company and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (P60 AR054731).

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Those Who Don’t Know You Are More Likely to Retweet

Big news can spread like wildfire via Twitter, but did you ever think about why certain people choose to retweet? A new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows — if someone doesn’t know you well, then he or she is actually more likely to retweet something significant you say.

“We found that people with weak ties, such as those who only have a one-way relationship on Twitter – who don’t both follow each other – are more likely to retweet,” explains Assistant Professor Zhan Michael Shi of the W. P. Carey School of Business, one of the paper’s authors. “We believe the retweeters are sharing the information because they think it will boost their reputation and influence by providing something new. People with stronger ties might not retweet because they believe their followers already know the details and/or they may have communicated with each other in other ways.”

The new research by Shi and his co-authors, Professor Huaxia Rui of the University of Rochester and Professor Andrew Whinston of the University of Texas at Austin, will be published in the academic journal MIS Quarterly in March. For their study, they put together a complex program utilizing 20 computers over 140 days. They were able to follow the progress of certain tweets for five-day periods and see whether the Twitter relationships between the author and retweeters were strong or weak. It’s believed to be the first information-systems study using publicly available Twitter data to explore how people voluntarily relay information.

For example, the paper mentions a famed tweet in 2011, when a highly placed official in Washington said, “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama bin Laden.” That tweet was sent out more than an hour before the White House officially announced the event. By the time the presidential announcement was made, tens of thousands of Twitter users had already spread the word, even though most of them didn’t know anyone directly involved.

“Twitter is incredibly popular and fast-growing as a social medium, with more than 500 million registered users worldwide by April 2012,” says Shi. “It’s a combination of a broadcasting service and a social network, so our results aren’t necessarily translatable to more pure social networks, such as Facebook. However, we think the new information is going to be very useful to people like social-media managers and marketers trying to understand how information is spread via social-broadcasting networks like Twitter.”

Among the results: Those with a two-way Twitter relationship are only 6-percent likely to retweet a remark like the ones of the median quality these researchers studied. However, one-way followers are 9.1 percent likely to tweet it. That’s a boost of more than 50 percent.

The full study can be found online at http://misq.org/content-sharing-in-a-social-broadcasting-environment-evidence-from-twitter.html?SID=86knf65su27v98u9npsa31heh3. More analysis is also available from knowWPCarey, the W. P. Carey School’s online resource and newsletter, at http://knowwpcarey.com.

Increase Cash Flow, Reduct Debt

Millennials: Burdened by Debt Today

In a new Wells Fargo study on the attitudes and behaviors of millennials on money and saving,  more than half  (54%) say their top financial concern is debt. That’s right, primarily student loan debt. And 42% say their debt is “overwhelming” — twice the rate of boomers who were also surveyed.

Other key findings:
· Sixty-one percent of millennials consider themselves “a saver”.  The gender differences are big with 66% of millennial men calling themselves a ”saver” versus 56% of women
· About half (49%) of millennials have begun saving for retirement and the gender differences persist with 54% of men saving and far fewer — 43% — women millennials saving
· Millennials (43%) rate the value of their education as “a great value” and 45% say “somewhat of a value.”

Although millennials are burdened by debt, they are very optimistic about their future with 67% of millennials saying they believe they will be better off than their parents. Seventy (70%) are very to somewhat confident that they will be able to save enough to afford the lifestyle that they hope to have in retirement.

energy.bill

Navajo Generating Station worth Billions to Navajo Nation

The Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona will help contribute nearly $13 billion to the Navajo economy and help support thousands of jobs from 2020 through 2044 – if agreements can be reached to keep the plant operating beyond 2019 – according to a study prepared for the Navajo Nation and Salt River Project by the L William Seidman Research Institute at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Located on the Navajo Nation, near Page, NGS is one of the largest and most important suppliers of electricity in the Southwest.

According to the ASU report, Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine: An Economic Impact Analysis for the Navajo Nation, NGS and the Kayenta Mine, the plant’s coal supplier, will contribute $12.94 billion to the Navajo Nation economy through sustained jobs and wages if the plant was to remain operational through 2044.

NGS currently employs about 518 people, nearly 86 percent of whom are Native American.  The Kayenta Mine has more than 400 employees, of whom about 90 percent are also Native American.

“I have been saying we need to protect existing jobs on the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.  “This study shows that the plant and the mine not only support existing jobs at the plant and mine, but support other jobs in the area.”

The ASU report examined the direct, indirect and induced economic impact of NGS and Kayenta Mine on the Navajo Nation using the IMPLAN model employed by the state of Arizona to examine various economic projections.  A full copy of the report is available at www.ngspower.com.

The study on the plant’s economic impact on the Navajo Nation is separate from a 2012 study from ASU that concluded that NGS and the Kayenta Mine will provide more than $20 billion in economic contributions throughout the state for the period measured from 2011 to 2044.  The new study examined the economic effects exclusively for the Navajo Nation.

Despite its economic importance, a number of significant challenges threaten the future viability of NGS.  To ensure future operations of NGS, the plant’s lease and various rights of way with the Navajo Nation must be extended and the coal supply contract with Peabody Energy renegotiated prior to any additional costly emission controls from the EPA.

The plant’s lease and various rights of way with the Navajo Nation are set to expire around 2019 and the Navajo Nation Council is currently considering legislation to extend them.  In addition, the plant’s owners are also renegotiating the coal supply contract with Peabody Energy.  Perhaps most significantly, the U.S. Environmental Protection has proposed additional and costly environmental rules to address regional visibility.

NGS is a coal-fired power plant that provides electricity to customers in Arizona, Nevada and California, and energy to pump water through the Central Arizona Project.  The participants in NGS include the plant’s operator, SRP; the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Arizona Public Service Co.; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; Tucson Electric Power Co. and NV Energy.

banner alzheimers foundation - brain research

Combination of Diet and Radiation Therapy Shows Promise

A team of brain cancer researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center has effectively treated brain tumor cells using a unique combination of diet and radiation therapy. The study, “The Ketogenic Diet Is an Effective Adjuvant to Radiation Therapy for the Treatment of Malignant Glioma,” was published in PLOS ONE.

Led by Adrienne C. Scheck, PhD, Principal Investigator in Neuro-Oncology and Neurosurgery Research at Barrow, the groundbreaking research studied the effects of the ketogenic diet in conjunction with radiation therapy for the treatment of malignant gliomas, an aggressive and deadly type of brain tumor. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that alters metabolism and is used in the treatment of pediatric epilepsy that does not respond to conventional therapies. The diet’s affects on brain homeostasis have potential for the treatment of other neurological diseases, as well.

In the study, mice with high-level malignant gliomas were maintained on either a standard or a ketogenic diet. Both groups received radiation therapy. Dr. Scheck’s team discovered that animals fed a ketogenic diet had an increased median survival of approximately five days relative to animals maintained on a standard diet. Of the mice that were fed a ketogenic diet and received radiation, nine of 11 survived with no signs of tumor recurrence, even after being switched back to standard food, for over 200 days. None on the standard diet survived more than 33 days.

One theory behind the success of the treatment is that the ketogenic diet may reduce growth factor stimulation, inhibiting tumor growth. Barrow scientists also believe that it may reduce inflammation and edema surrounding the tumors. This is believed to be the first study of its kind to look at the effects of the ketogenic diet with radiation.

Dr. Scheck believes that the study has promising implications in the treatment of human malignant gliomas. “We found that the ketogenic diet significantly enhances the anti-tumor effect of radiation, which suggests that it may be useful as an adjuvant to the current standard of care for the treatment of human malignant gliomas,” she says.

Dr. Scheck adds that the ketogenic diet could quickly and easily be added into current brain tumor treatment plans as an adjuvant therapy without the need for FDA approval. She is currently exploring options for clinical trials.

Masiulewicz

Masiulewicz takes leadership role in MPI

Donna Masiulewicz, a native of Chicago, was named president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International for the 2012 – 2013 year.

Masiulewicz earned her BA from Northern Illinois University in Spanish Translation and International Marketing.  She began her career in the hospitality industry working in association meetings management and tenured in corporate meeting and event operations.  A move to Arizona in 2001 carried over her role in corporate meetings and introduced her to incentive travel programs.

As president at Timeline Meetings and Events, LLC, Masiulewicz manages programs and events in domestic and international destinations with delegations from 12-2500.
Over the years, Masiulewicz has earned several industry awards, including the Rising Star for MPI (both Chicago and Arizona chapters) and the MPI Special Commendation award in Arizona. Masiulewicz won the prestigious 2008-2009 AZMPI Planner of the Year.
She recently sat down with Arizona Business Magazine to talk about the state of the hospitality industry in Arizona.

Question: What motivated you to become a meeting and event producer?
Masiulewicz; I started working the association market as an internal meeting/registration coordinator for a national nursing council. I truly loved the job and all the facets of the meetings industry. Wanting to learn more, I moved to the corporate side of meetings and conferences, got involved in MPI and continued to grow, learn and focus on perfecting each event.

Q: What are your duties and focus as president at Timeline Meetings and Events, LLC?
M: I am an independent senior meeting planner who is proficient in operations management for conferences, events and incentive programs. I manage all facets of program logistics including on-line registration support team, housing, custom program itinerary, ancillary meetings/activities, food/beverage selection, implementation, budget management, client relations, on-site execution and production, accounting and financial reconciliation.

Q: How did you become involved in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI?
M: I joined the Chicago chapter of MPI in 1997 and served on several committees; also receiving the Rising Star award in 2001. I transferred my membership to the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter when I moved in 2001. I was going to sit back and take it all in, but quickly jumped onto two committees. Over the next few years, I served on several committees including host and hospitality, membership, holiday party, special events/fundraising, and education forum. I joined the board of directors as director of special events/ fundraising in 2006-2007 and served as vice president of finance for a year before becoming president-elect in 2011-2012.

Q: How have some of the political and social issues — SB1070 and the lesbian couple being asked to leave a downtown Phoenix hotel restaurant — impacted the meeting and events industry in Arizona?
M: While we continue to be sensitive to the special interests of all our clients, we have a responsibility to remain focused on the task at hand which is the organization and execution of the best event we can produce. At times this may entail distancing that task from any group’s social or political views. While some may protest such an approach, the resultant neutrality assures both the organizers and the clients a well-run event without the distractions of any alternate agendas.

Q: What are your goals as president of the chapter?
M: My theme for the year is “Meeting Momentum.” We have the energy and resources laid in the foundation for the hospitality industry and it’s up to us as the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter to keep the movement and mobility in motion by doing four things:
* Offering top notch education to our membership.
* Encouraging members to live MPI and share the message throughout the industry and beyond.
* Paving the path for our future leaders.
* Having fun with networking events and helping others via our community outreach efforts.

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Technology expands meeting and conference industry

We don’t catch up over coffee anymore, we catch up on Facebook.

Technology has changed the way we date, invite people to parties, and even watch TV. It’s only natural that technology will change the face of business meetings and conferences.

“As a chapter and in addition to our website, we utilize social media outlets — Facebook and LinkedIn — to promote our meetings and events and to share information industry-wide,” says Donna Masiulewicz. president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “We also use these means to educate those outside the industry about the power of meetings.”

Mara Weber, global marketing and communications director for Honeywell Process Solutions in Phoenix, has taken the use of technology a step far beyond Facebook.

“We held a global sales and service kickoff meeting on a virtual platform, with live broadcasts of a general session in two time zones,” Weber says. “The objective was to align our global team on growth initiatives, portfolio offerings, key messages and how to sell the value to our customers.”

While Weber says virtual meetings — which experts expect to triple in the next five years — give companies the ability to create a global footprint and bring content to an audience when and where it’s convenient for them, there are logistical challenges that need to be overcome.

“To be honest, the time and energy required and cost is far more than people realize,” she says. “You need to start with a very specific plan of attack, keeping goals and results in mind and making sure you are creating the right content in the right format. Video format, platform format, firewalls, testing in varied browsers and software versions, ability to convert files and stay flexible at all times is just the start. You also need to think past the technical to the end-user experience and also branding to create a visual environment and help messages that guide attendees or they quickly get frustrated and jump off. It’s not like being lost at a trade show and being able to view a map and ask people for directions. The audience is largely on their own and you have to think about their experience every step of the way, how they behave, how you want them to behave, download, ask, engage.”

Weber believe the best use of virtual meetings are as a component of a live, face-to-face event, extending the value of the content through the web to attendees who cannot travel or have abbreviated schedules.

“We chose to do a fully virtual kickoff meeting because we have over 3,500 sales and service team members in more than 100 countries,” she says. “The cost and logistics of face to face meeting is not reasonable.”

Weber says Honeywell has piloted virtual meeting a couple of times with customers when they can focus on a specific, targeted topic. And even in the high-tech world that Honeywell does business in, change isn’t embraced easily.

“Our customer base does not seem to be accepting,” Weber says. “By nature, they are engineers and like live demonstrations, talking face to face with experts and networking.”

TECHNOLOGY IMPACTS THE MEETING INDUSTRY

Here are five way ways experts say the use virtual technology is changing the face of the convention, conference, meeting, event, and trades how industries: ways he says you can use virtual technology to enhance your meetings.

WEB CONFERENCING: Connects meeting attendees and speakers in different locations by using VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), which allows real-time streaming of audio and video. More hotels and business centers are also adding high-definition virtual conference rooms that can be used to host hybrid sessions.

ONLINE COLLABORATION TOOLS: Open source your meetings and events by allowing virtual participants to share documents, Web pages, whiteboards, slide decks, audio, and video … all in real-time. Some Web conferencing systems allow you to record your events, thereby creating a collective knowledge base. These tools can be used for small meetings or for larger groups of thousands.

SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS: Often called the “backchannel,” social media represent the virtual conversations taking place in the background before, during, and often long after your live meeting or event. Take the time to set up and promote social media activity through things like assigning a specific Twitter hashtag for your event, creating event-specific Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and setting up Foursquare check-in locations.

REMOTE PRESENTERS: Use a streaming video feed of a speaker who is in a different physical location. This can be done as a realistic 3-D hologram, or a live feed of your guest speaker. Remote presenter options can be a great way to attract high-profile speakers who may not have the time to travel to a physical event.

LIVE WEBCASTS: Broadcast your keynotes, general sessions and breakouts by streaming your live audio and visual presentations via the Internet in real-time.

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Meetings and conventions drive tourism industry

Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, knows his industry is big business.

“If Arizona’s tourism industry were a publicly traded entity,” he says, “it would be the third-largest company in the state—just behind Avnet and Freeport-McMoran, and just ahead of US Airways and PetSmart.”

Despite the economic downturn and the hit that the state’s tourism industry has taken because of human rights concerns, the numbers back up Moore’s statement. According to a study released this year by Dean Runyan Associates:
* Total direct travel spending in Arizona was $18.3 billion in 2011. Travel spending increased by 5.4 percent in current dollars compared with 2010.
* The tourism industry employs 157,700 people in Arizona. Combined with secondary employment that is generated through this direct travel spending, total job generation for Arizona is nearly 300,000. Tourism-related employment increased in 2011 by 1.7 percent – an addition of 2,700 jobs. This is the first increase in employment since 2006.
* The re-spending of travel-related revenues by businesses and employees supported 136,000 additional jobs outside of the travel industry, with earnings of $5.4 billion.
* The biggest economic boost came from conferences, conventions and business travel, which accounted for more than $6 billion in spending, or the equivalent economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl every month.

“Conventions and meetings are essential to Phoenix’s economy,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says. “Their attendees stay in our hotels, go shopping at our local businesses and eat in our restaurants, which generates revenue and creates jobs.”

In many ways, experts says, conventions and meetings are a key indicator of the state’s ongoing economic recovery.

“Our industry is in a unique position in that our economic recovery has a direct effect on the recovery of the country as a whole,” says Donna Masiulewicz, president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “For most organizations, the first step in such a rebuilding phase is to regroup, reorganize and set out plans for the future. What better place to accomplish these things than at a company-wide event or convention? That means, in essence, that when we are hired to set up these events we are not only helping our own industry get back on financial track but we are serving as a conduit for other organizations to do so as well.”

The gross domestic product of Arizona’s travel industry was $7.3 billion in 2011, according to the Runyan study, making it the state’s top export-oriented industry, ranking above microelectronics, aerospace, and mining.

A big chunk of that revenue comes from meetings and conventions, which account for about two-thirds of the total revenue at Phoenix hotels and resorts, according to Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“That’s higher than the national average,” MacKenzie says, “because our destination holds great appeal as a meeting destination.”

MacKenzie is quick to point out that when a big event like Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the Super Bowl comes to Arizona, the public hears about the economic impact it has on the community because those events get a lot of media attention. But people often don’t realize that big conventions similarly bring thousands—and in some cases tens of thousands —of visitors to Phoenix on a regular basis.

“When a large convention comes to the Phoenix Convention Center, it’s like entire small town moving into downtown for a week,” says Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And each one of these temporary ‘residents’ directly puts dollars into the economy and generates tax revenue. By a very conservative industry estimate, each convention attendee who comes here spends more than $1,500.”

Meetings not only play a critical role in Scottsdale’s $3 billion tourism industry, according to Kelli Blubaum, vice president of Convention Sales & Services at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, they are economic catalysts that extend beyond the singular event.

“Meetings and events not only help fill thousands of resort and hotel room nights each year, but also provide an opportunity to introduce new visitors and business decision makers to the area,’ she says. “These events often lead to repeat visitors and even economic development opportunities for the city.”

Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane says that meetings and conventions sometimes open the attracting new industry to Arizona.

“Sometimes, people who get a taste for Scottsdale end up buying a home here, or even moving a business here,” Lane says. “In fact, (convention-goers) may represent larger groups and businesses who may ultimately do more business in Scottsdale based on an initial stay here.”

MacKenzie says Arizona’s robust meeting and convention industry brings people into the state who might not otherwise be exposed to the benefits of doing business in Arizona.

“Many conventions and corporate meetings deliver to our doorstep the very manufacturing and knowledge industries economic developers want to attract to the city,” MacKenzie says.

And while meetings and conventions represent about one-third of the tourism revenue in Tucson, city officials have used their success as an attraction in the meetings industry to attract more revenue in the future.

“Many of Tucson’s larger resorts and hotels rely exclusively on group business to maintain occupancy and revenue throughout the year,” says Graeme Hughes, director of convention sales for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are also very successful in converting meetings attendees into leisure visitors.”

Since 2008 and 2009 — the low point for Arizona tourism in the wake of the economic downturn — tourism-related tax revenue has risen across the state and as much as 60 percent in some regions of Arizona.

“The hospitality industry is a primary driver of the Arizona economy,” says Andy Ernst, regional vice president of Robert Half International, a professional staffing and consulting service. “We anticipate that Arizona will continue to experience healthy growth in the coming years as hotel occupancy continues to rise, and business comes back to the state.”

With a bright financial outlook for the meeting and convention industry nationally, experts expect Arizona to ride the momentum.
“At this point, Arizona is positioned to follow the national trend,” Hughes says. “As the economy improves, travel increases. Organizations will soon be willing to reinvest in the positive outcomes that meetings and conventions provide.”

The groups that met at the Phoenix Convention Center in 2011 accounted for more than 240,000 attendees and $350 million in estimated direct spending, according the MacKenzie. That surpassed the previous year’s direct-spend total by nearly $10 million, and it reflects the drawing power of the renovated and expanded convention center and additions to downtown, including CityScape.

“However, that’s a performance that likely will not be repeated soon,” MacKenzie says. “The number of convention attendees we’ve booked for 2012 is down 20 percent compared with 2011.”

MacKenzie attributes the decline to the recession, a 30 percent cut to the CVB’s budget, the removal of half of our Prop 302 marketing funds, and client backlash from Arizona’s role in the immigration debate, and the “A.I.G. effect,” the tendency of corporations to cut down on lavish expenditures and luxuries in areas like travel and meetings to avoid appearing wasteful in times of economic downturn. The A.I.G. effect became a reality because of the negative publicity generated by some practices of the insurance giant A.I.G.

“Keep in mind: This year’s and next year’s conventions were booked from 2008 to 2010, during the depths of the recession and during the first year of the immigration debate,” MacKenzie says. “The typical booking window for citywide conventions is two to five years out—i.e., a group usually selects the site of its 2012 convention by 2010.”

Despite some challenges, experts agree that the long-term appeal of Arizona should allow the state’s convention and meeting industry to fluorish.

“We’re seeing an increase in business from third-party planners, and the corporate segment is strengthening as well,” Blubaum points out. “Plus, healthcare continues to be a strong segment. Canada also is a growing market for Scottsdale, which is why we are increasing our efforts to drive additional meetings business from key Canadian cities.”

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TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare lead pancreatic cancer study

A new cancer drug combination demonstrated significant improvement in overall survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients compared to those receiving standard treatment, according to results of a Phase III clinical trial led by physicians from Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Physicians at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare were first to design a clinical trial to determine the safety, tolerability and effectiveness of nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) in combination with the standard drug gemcitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Results of that multicenter study chaired by Dr. Daniel Von Hoff were encouraging enough that it led to one of the largest international studies ever done in pancreatic cancer, with 861 patients.

Full results are expected to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in Jan. 24-26 in San Francisco.

“This is a great example of rapid bench to bedside development of new treatments for cancer. We’re ecstatic that we will have a new treatment for patients with late stage pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Von Hoff, international lead investigator and Chief Scientific Officer for the Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and TGen’s Physician-In-Chief.

The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach that secretes enzymes into the upper part of the small intestine to help digestion. It also produces hormones, including insulin, which helps regulate the metabolism of sugars. Advanced pancreatic cancer is fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. It is a difficult to diagnose and treat cancer with the lowest survival rates among all cancer types.

Nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) is an albumin-bound formulation of paclitaxel, produced by Celgene Corp. Dr. Von Hoff said that results of the MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial) study will lead Celgene to submit for FDA approval.

“Pancreatic cancer incidence is increasing worldwide with almost 220,000 cases per year, and we are optimistic that this will have worldwide impact for treating advanced pancreatic cancer,” added Dr. Ramesh Ramanathan, Medical Director of Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and principal investigator for the United States.

Dr. Von Hoff credited the support of Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation, Stand Up to Cancer and the Seena Magowitz Foundation for advancing the study at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare. He noted that TGen and International Genomics Consortium scientists in collaboration with scientists from Abraxis Bioscience found that in pancreatic cancer, an albumin-binding protein called SPARC was present at high levels in cells within the pancreatic tumor microenvironment. They hypothesized that the albumin formulation of nab-paclitaxel may be taken up by tumor and surrounding cells with high SPARC expression.

Individuals seeking information about eligibility to participate in clinical trials at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare may contact the cancer care coordinator at 480-323-1339; toll free at 1-877-273-3713 or via email at clinicaltrials@shc.org.

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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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UA earns grant to study biodiesel effects

Researchers at the University of Arizona have won a $1.4 million grant to study the occupational and environmental health effects of underground mining equipment that runs on biodiesel-blend fuels.

The university says mining operators are shifting from diesel to biodiesel-blend fuels in a bid to lower exposure to pollutants.

Biodiesel is made from vegetable oil or animal fat and can be added to diesel as a blend or used on its own.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health awarded the grant to the university’s public health college and mining department.

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Study: Arizona rail project has limited potential

There would be limited potential to develop state trust land near the southern Arizona landmark of Picacho Peak as an industrial park if Union Pacific Corp. is allowed to buy some of the property for a new railroad switching yard, according to a study released Monday.

The report by consultants hired by the state Land Department said a value set on the site should probably depend on its unique value to the railroad, not the expectation of a larger payoff from development of adjacent trust land.

The proposed 900-acre site, now consisting of desert and farmland, is next to Interstate 10 and about 35 miles northwest of Tucson.

Local officials have endorsed the rail project as an economic development opportunity, while critics have said it’d be an environmental blemish within eyesight of Picacho Peak State Park, particularly at night.

Suggestions by Union Pacific that the state could benefit by developing adjacent trust land for industrial use may be too optimistic, according to the report by Gruen Gruen and Associates.

It cited slow development near other railroad freight yards, limited demand for certain types of rail capacity and availability of land elsewhere in Pinal County.

A separate state-commissioned study also released Monday listed infrastructure projects totaling tens of millions of dollars that would be needed to provide road, drainage, water and sewer services to a potential industrial park.

That study said access to an industrial park on the eastern side of the rail yard would be constrained because the yard itself would be about six miles long to accommodate long tracks to park and assemble trains.

The yard project was first proposed about six years ago, but the railroad and the state put it on the backburner for several years when the Great Recession slowed rail traffic.

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Study reveals genomic similarities between breast cancer and ovarian cancers

One subtype of breast cancer shares many genetic features with high-grade serous ovarian cancer, a cancer that is very difficult to treat, according to researchers. The findings suggest that the two cancers are of similar molecular origin, which may facilitate the comparison of therapeutic data for subtypes of breast and ovarian cancers.

The researchers, using data generated as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), described new insights into the four standard molecular subtypes based on a comprehensive characterization of samples from 825 breast cancer patients.

The study, a collaborative effort funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), both part of NIH, was published online Sept. 23, 2012, and in print Oct. 4, 2012, in the journal Nature.

“The International Genomics Consortium provided high-quality cancer tissue samples for this critical study that is of important translational value and will lead to important new discoveries in the future,” said Dr. Robert Penny, IGC’s Chief Executive Officer and Principal Investigator of the Biospecimen Core Resource and Tissue Source Site network. “As the most common cancer in women, this study is keystone in helping to find new breast cancer treatment options.”

David Mallery, IGC’s president, said that, “The International Genomics Consortium is committed to finding better approaches to assist cancer patients and their physicians. Our expertise in overseeing top research networks and curating quality clinical data and biospecimens will enable us to continue to help advance patient care.”

“TCGA’s comprehensive characterization of their high-quality samples allows researchers an unprecedented look at these breast cancer subgroups,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Analyses of genomic data have confirmed that there are four primary subtypes of breast cancer, each with its own biology and survival outlooks.  These TCGA findings are based on a large number of breast cancer specimens that capture a complete view of the genomic alterations.  The four groups are called intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer: HER2-enriched (HER2E), Luminal A (LumA), Luminal B (LumB) and Basal-like.  A fifth type, called Normal-like, was observed, but because of small numbers (only eight specimens) the researchers were unable to rigorously study it.

The TCGA Research Network uncovered marked genomic similarities between the Basal-like subtype and serous ovarian cancer. The mutation spectrum, or types and frequencies of genomic mutations, were largely the same in both cancer types. Further analyses identified several additional common genomic features, such as gene mutation frequency, suggesting that diverse genomic aberrations can converge into a limited number of cancer subtypes.

Computational analyses show that Basal-like breast cancer and serous ovarian cancer might both be susceptible to agents that inhibit blood vessel growth, cutting off the blood supply to the tumor, as well as to compounds that target DNA repair, which include chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin.

The Basal-like subgroup has also been called Triple Negative Breast Cancer because many, though not all, Basal-like tumors are negative when tested for three receptors: the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). These receptors can trigger potent cell growth responses and act like a nametag, identifying the cell to the environment. The absence of these receptors means that treatments that target them will most likely be ineffective.

“The molecular similarity of one of the principal subtypes of breast cancer to that found in ovarian cancer gives us additional leverage to compare treatments and outcomes across these two cancers,” noted Harold Varmus, M.D., NCI director.  “This treasure trove of genetic information will need to be examined in great detail to identify how we can use it functionally and clinically.”

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 1.3 million new cases of breast cancer and 450,000 deaths worldwide annually. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. The majority of cases are sporadic, meaning there is not a family history of breast cancer, as opposed to genetic, where genes predispose a person to the disease.  Men can also develop breast cancer, but it accounts for less than 1 percent of breast cancer cases.

Breast cancer tumors that have the HER2 receptor are called HER2-positive, and those that don’t are called HER2-negative. When researchers analyzed the genomic findings from tumors determined to be HER2-positive by standard cellular tests, they found that only half of the samples could be characterized as belonging to the HER2E subtype. The other half were characterized as Luminal subtypes, suggesting that there are at least two types of clinically defined HER2-positive tumors.

In general, the Luminal subtypes had the lowest overall mutation rate, but by contrast, had the largest number of genes observed to be significantly mutated. This suggests that each of the genes identified as significantly mutated in the Luminal subtypes is more likely to be important in fueling cancer progression. The Luminal subtypes are characterized by the specific expression signature of multiple so-called transcription-factor genes, including ESR1, GATA3, FOXA1, XBP1 and cMYB. These genes have a complex interaction, cooperating in an orchestrated series of activations. GATA3 and FOXA1 are frequently mutated, but those mutations are mutually exclusive, meaning that mutations were observed in either GATA3 or FOXA1 but never in both. However, ERS1 and XBP1 are highly expressed but infrequently mutated.

The scale of the TCGA program allows researchers to perform the integrative analyses that detect these complex patterns of genomic changes and interactions. This close inspection of the cancer genome has led to a deeper understanding of the mutations essential for cancer progression, and several new candidates were identified in this study. The authors hope that discovery of these mutations will be a crucial step toward improving breast cancer therapies.

This publication focuses on the discoveries made through a combined analysis involving data from 825 breast cancer cases, which are freely available in the TCGA Data Portal, with several hundred more cases to come.

“The data generated by the TCGA program comprise a vast resource that investigators will be analyzing for years to come.  The resource of information about breast cancer genomes will undoubtedly fuel myriad discoveries by the cancer research community,” said Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., NHGRI director.

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Where Are Americans Getting Their News?

For the past ten years television has been the most popular source of news for Americans, but according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center internet is quickly gaining ground towards becoming the most popular news source in America. In fact, among 18 to 29 year olds it already is, though for those 50 years and older the internet still ranks below both newspaper and television as their main source of news. The internet is also gaining ground among college graduates, while 75% of those who have a high school education or less turn to television. Where do you get your news?

Where do Americans get their news?

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ASU Cancels Study Abroad Program In Egypt

On January 25th, Egyptian citizens erupted in violent revolution against corruption, extensive poverty, enormous national unemployment and numerous governance problems of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak — and two Arizona State students were caught in its crossfire.

The students were studying abroad in Cairo at the time political unrest hit its threshold in late January; and with ASU’s Study Abroad Office’s help, they were pulled out of the area.

Image Provided by FlickrASU has had a long-standing relationship with the American University of Cairo (AUC) where the previously mentioned students had been studying, but as CNN reported attacks on American journalists in the area, concerns arose from families of the students involved.

“We feel confident that both students will be back in the U.S. by this weekend, weather permitting”, said Amy Shenberger, director of the Study Abroad Office at ASU.

Their decision in the cancellation was met with widespread agreement by both the U.S. government agencies involved and university partners in Cairo.

In result from years of political turmoil, Egypt reached its tipping point of strong government rhetoric from Mubarak.  Headlines of bloodied civilians and anti-riot police have scattered newspapers nationwide, giving American news affiliates reason for concern.

According to the Washington Post, the White House is aiding in the extraction of news reporters in the area, as many have been savagely beaten or detained by the Egyptian government.Image Provided by Flickr

iJet, a travel intelligence that monitors international activity for ASU’s study abroad office, has maintained communication with Shenberger to give live updates on the situation.

Shenberger also strongly advocates the continuation of its program in Egypt in future years but believes the current political atmosphere presents a clear and present danger to the students.

“We have had a partnership with AUC since 2004, and it’s our intention to maintain that going forward,” said Shenberger.

The program plans to resume once the dust settles in Egypt, according to Shenberger, and ASU will continue to monitor the situation with the students’ best interests.

“The safety and security of all of our students is our primary concern, [and] any time the danger in a location outweighs the benefits of the academic program, we take the steps necessary to ensure our students’ safety,” said Shenberger.