Tag Archives: tgen

prevention trial - brain scan images

Ivy Foundation Grants Over $9M for Brain Cancer Research

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation (Ivy Foundation) announced its 2012 grant recipients, which total more than $9 million in funding for brain cancer research. The Ivy Foundation is the largest privately funded brain cancer research foundation in North America. Catherine Ivy is the founder and president of the Ivy Foundation, which has a research funding focus on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and deadliest of malignant primary brain tumors in adults.

The Ivy Foundation awarded the following grants and/or provided funding in 2012:

· $2,500,000 over three years:  Principal Investigator, Greg D. Foltz, M.D., Director, The Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment, Swedish Medical Center
· $5,000,000 over five years:  Principal Investigators, John Carpten, Ph.D. and David Craig, Ph.D., Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) – a collaborative effort with University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Los Angeles; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Massachusetts General Hospital; Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center; MD Anderson; and University of Utah
· $45,000 annually: Principal Investigator, Brandy Wells, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), for the Ivy Neurological Sciences Internship program
· Over $2 million paid out in 2012 for previously committed multi-year brain cancer research grants

“We are encouraged and remain strongly committed to moving the progress forward for patients diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Ivy. “The 2012 Ivy Foundation grant recipients are important strategic partners in our objective to double the life expectancy of people diagnosed with GBM within the next seven years.”

head.injury

TGen and Riddell Announce Partnership

Head protection plays a vital role in the health and safety of any athlete participating in helmeted sports.  In a move that could help revolutionize football player safety, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and Easton-Bell Sports through its Riddell brand, announced today it would work together on a study designed to advance athlete concussion detection and treatment.  Information gathered through the study will also be used to develop new football headgear and further refine updates to player monitoring technology.

“TGen welcomes this remarkable opportunity to join Riddell in a major research study with the goal of helping to objectively monitor a player on the field (with microelectronics combined with nucleic acid sequencing),” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director. “TGen’s work over the past several years in the area of head trauma is accelerating new insights to the critical study of concussion injury.”

The genesis of this potentially groundbreaking study is to merge a player’s genetic information with real-time microelectronic information captured by Riddell’s Sideline Response System (SRS). A highly sophisticated, data-intensive system, Riddell SRS provides researchers, athletic staff and players with a wide range of valuable information on the number and severity of head impacts a player receives during games and practices.  Employed since 2003 by several well-respected research institutions, Riddell SRS has captured 1.8 million impacts from youth to elite football competition, and its data has led to impactful changes to rules, how the game is played and coached, and has informed new helmet designs.

“As the industry leader in football head protection, Riddell has the unique opportunity to advance TGen’s groundbreaking medical research into the brain as we work together towards identifying a way to accurately and quickly diagnose concussions in football players,” said Dan Arment, President of Riddell. “With Riddell’s commitment to player protection and history of innovation, we are hopeful that our collaboration with TGen will help us better protect athletes and lead us to meaningful advancements in helmet technology that move the game of football forward.”

A key question the study seeks to answer is: are the effects of sub-concussive hits identifiable through blood-based molecular information? “Based on our current information, we believe this study will have the unique ability to provide a molecular ‘risk’ and ‘recovery’ score, enabling physicians to better identify when a player might be expected to recover from the effects of the concussion and get back on the field,” said Dr. Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, TGen Assistant Professor, whose technique for studying molecular information at a micro level will drive the research.

While the joint study will begin with football, the Riddell-TGen partnership has the potential to improve sports equipment manufactured by brands in the broader Easton-Bell Sports portfolio, including headgear for hockey, baseball, cycling, snowsports, and powersports. “As the awareness of head injury grows across all sports, supporting science like this will help us offer a more protective helmet solution to the athlete,” said Arment.

Local Institutes and Advocate to Join Study

As part of the study, TGen will work with the Barrow Neurological Institute whose B.R.A.I.N.S. (Barrow Resource for Acquired Injury to the Nervous System) program treats patients who have sustained a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury.

“Combining our neurological expertise and the information from our B.R.A.I.N.S. program, with TGen’s genomic knowledge and Riddell’s helmet technology, will provide great insight into how we measure concussions and how they affect the human brain,” said Dr. Javier Cárdenas, a neurologist and brain injury expert with Barrow Neurological Institute. “The genomic data could aid in the treatment process and will greatly add to the growing body of knowledge we’re acquiring about head injury patients.”

Joining Barrow will be athletic trainers from A.T. Still University and SAFE Football, which teaches alternative game-play techniques that reduce the number of head impacts while increasing competitiveness.

“Our partnerships with Barrow Neurological Institute, A.T. Still University, and Safe Football provide a multifaceted approach to identifying athletes in need of medical attention, to educating athletes on concussion and brain injury, to reducing the risk of injury through development of better techniques, and to improving treatment outcomes,” said Dr. Matt Huentelman, TGen Associate Professor and a co-investigator on the study.

Bioscience helix

Ivy Foundation Renews Support for TGen Program

The Arizona-based Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation will fund a second year of the Ivy Neurological Science Internship Program at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The internship program offers hands-on biomedical research experience for high school, undergraduate and aspiring medical school students pursuing careers in brain tumor research, neuroscience and neurogenomics.

Through the program, world-class scientific investigators at TGen guide interns in the translational process of moving laboratory discoveries along the pipeline into new treatments for patients in clinical trials.

“Based upon the success of the 2012 pilot year, we believe the Ivy Neurological Science Internship Program at TGen will inspire a new generation of leaders in this field,” said Catherine Ivy, President of The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. “There is an urgent and continuing need to encourage research into the intricate workings of brain cancer.”

TGen will select seven students for the program this year. Starting in June, two high-school students will participate in a 10-week summer program. Four undergraduate students will spend the fall semester at TGen, and one student planning to attend medical school will participate for a full academic year, beginning in the fall.

“Development of a local, knowledge-based workforce depends on educating and training talented students in the latest aspects of biomedical research and medicine,” said TGen President Dr. Jeffrey Trent. “The continued support from the Ivy program greatly enhances our efforts to provide hands-on experience in the area of translational research.”

In addition to brain tumor and neurological sciences research experience, Ivy interns will participate in a clinical training module that will engage them with the ultimate focus of these studies – the patient.

“TGen recognizes that we must invest in the development of the next generation of researchers and physicians; we need to prepare today’s students for the complex and challenging work awaiting them in the areas of brain tumor and neurological sciences research,” said Brandy Wells, Manager of TGen’s Education and Outreach.

For more information, please contact Brandy Wells at bwells@tgen.org or 602-343-8655.

prevention trial - brain scan images

TGen scientist launches innovative online research project

A scientific researcher at Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has launched a first-of-its-kind online memory test to help better understand human cognition and how it might relate to Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.

Dubbed “MindCrowd”, the study seeks to attract 1 million individuals, aged 18 to 80, willing to complete the 10-minute online memory test at mindcrowd.org. Researchers will use the test results to build a base of data for further study on how cognition and memory changes as people age.

Eventually, the researchers want to leverage this newly-gained biological insight into therapeutic application — treatment. The hope is for the online test to go viral with friends, families and colleagues challenging one another to take the test and compare the results.

MindCrowd is the brainchild of TGen Associate Professor Dr. Matt Huentelman who believes understanding how the brain works in healthy individuals will foster the development of new medicines and therapies for those with brain disorders. Dr. Huentelman’s TGen lab studies the genomics of human neurological traits and diseases with a specific focus on learning, memory and Alzheimer’s.

“MindCrowd is the first research project of its kind,” said Huentelman, an expert in genomics as it relates to memory. “By harnessing the power of the Internet, we can study a million – or more – individuals to help bring us closer to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. Combining our knowledge of human genetics and neuroscience with an online research study like MindCrowd is a revolutionary approach to understanding our differences in brain performance and how it may influence risk for disease. We expect to add significantly to our understanding of cognition and how genetic factors impact our memory as we age.”

The MindCrowd project has two phases: Phase I involves memory testing of 1 million or more study participants. Following an in-depth analysis of Phase I test results, researchers will then solicit a subset of Phase I participants willing to donate a DNA saliva sample and undergo an additional round of online testing.

Participation is encouraged from a broad range of ages, backgrounds and cognitive abilities. Those taking the test are free to remain anonymous, although it is encouraged that people share basic data to help the project succeed. The test does not predict or diagnose any condition, rather it provides data on one type of memory and how these processes change as people age and have varied life experiences.

MindCrowd is a collaborative effort among leading scientific research institutions and organizations including TGen, the University of Arizona, Banner Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative and others.

Visit www.mindcrowd.org to take the test.

guerra

Hispanic Chamber names Guerra Woman of the Year

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is honoring BioAccel CEO and Co-Founder MaryAnn Guerra as the Woman of the Year on Saturday at its 55th Annual Black & White Ball and Business Awards.

Guerra is being recognized for BioAccel’s leadership role in economic development and its ongoing effort to start new companies and create jobs in Arizona. The gala, which honors three other community leaders and a business, is being held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 330 N. Third Street.

“The centerpiece attraction of our gala is the Hispanic Chamber’s prestigious business awards, and we’re extremely proud this year to salute the achievements of MaryAnn Guerra, one of our the state’s innovative figures, by awarding her the 2013 Woman of the Year Award,” said AZHCC President & CEO Gonzalo A. de la Melena, Jr.

Guerra is known for creating novel programs to accelerate the transfer of technology from the lab into new business opportunities. She has spent much of her career operating successful and progressive health, science and technology businesses. Guerra is an expert at business development initiatives that create organizations poised to deliver commercial outcomes. Since the launch of BioAccel in April 2009, 10 companies have been successfully launched with products close to commercial availability. Additionally, BioAccel recently partnered with the City of Peoria to create the first medical device accelerator, embedding the BioAccel model into its operations to ensure positive economic impact.

“I’m honored and humbled by this award,” Guerra said. “BioAccel is a new kind of accelerator model in Arizona dedicated to creating knowledge-industry jobs and new companies that drive our state’s economy. It’s inspiring and invigorating work, and a privilege to work with a staff, board and industry leaders committed to realizing a big bio vision for Arizona.”

Prior to founding BioAccel, Guerra served as President of TGen Accelerators, LLC, and Chief Operating Officer at TGen. While at TGen, she facilitated the start-up of six companies and was involved in the sale of three of those yielding significant profits for the organization. As TGen’s former COO, she grew the organization from $30 million to $60 million in fewer than three years.  Guerra also served as the executive vice president of Matthews Media Group where she was responsible for developing and implementing commercial strategic business plans that expanded and enhanced services and extended relationships with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. She had an impressive career at the National Institutes of Health in various senior level positions including executive officer at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and deputy director of management & executive officer at the National Cancer Institute.

Guerra has received numerous awards for her work including Arizona Business Magazine’s 2013 Fifteen Women to Watch. Last year, BioAccel received the State Science and Technology Institutes’ Most Innovative New Initiative Award, a first time national recognition for BioAccel and the state of Arizona. Currently Guerra is a board member of Planned Parenthood of Arizona and the Mollen Foundation as well as a Commissioner of the Arizona Skill Standard Commission. In addition, she serves on the advisory board for ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering. Guerra earned an undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and an MBA from George Washington University in Science, Innovation and Commercialization.

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 55th Annual Black & White Ball and Business Awards event is the state’s longest running formal gala and honors the achievements of business and community leaders statewide. More than 1,200 of Arizona’s most notable business and community leaders attend every year.

The Chamber will present awards during the gala in four other categories. This year’s winners are:

• Lattie F. Coor, Legacy Award

• Alfredo J. Molina, Man of the Year

• Israel G. Torres, Entrepreneur of the Year

• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Corporation of the Year Award

medical.research

Foundation donates $500,000 for TGen research

The Seena Magowitz Foundation has donated $500,000 from two charity golf tournaments dedicated to supporting pancreatic cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Past donations from the Seena Magowitz Foundation have helped fund significant scientific research that is making a difference in the lives of pancreatic cancer patients and their families.

In January, TGen Physician-In-Chief Dr. Daniel Von Hoff presented study results at a San Francisco cancer symposium, showing that the drug Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) when combined with gemcitabine, significantly extended the survival of pancreatic cancer patients. The Seena Magowitz Foundation helped fund the clinical trials that led to this advance.

“A decade of advocacy and fundraising is really paying off with concrete results that are actually helping pancreatic patients survive longer,” said Roger Magowitz, President and Co-Founder of the Seena Magowitz Foundation. “Our supporters deserve to take a bow, because the research behind these advances might not be possible without their help.”

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and annually takes the lives of more than 38,000 Americans. A staggering 75 percent of those diagnosed die within the first year, and only 6 percent survive more than five years.

The most recent $500,000 donation to TGen from the Seena Magowitz Foundation represented funds raised during the 10th annual Seena Magowitz Golf Classic on Dec. 8 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, and also from the 3rd annual Atlanta Golf Classic, organized Oct. 1 by pancreatic cancer survivor Howard Young, President of General Wholesale Beer Company. Young is a TGen Foundation Board Member and Chairman of TGen’s National Advisory Council for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

“TGen could not have made the progress we have against this disease without the unflagging dedication of special people like Roger Magowitz and Howard Young, and the hundreds of supporters they have inspired over the past decade,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff.

Magowitz informed the TGen Foundation of the $500,000 donation during the March 28 Evening on the Diamond, an annual fundraising event hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

“We are experiencing a remarkable confluence of forces between the Seena Magowitz Foundation, Major League Baseball and TGen in the fight against this most aggressive and deadly of cancers,” Magowitz said. “It is this kind of concerted effort, backed by prominent individuals and organizations, that eventually will lead to a cure for pancreatic cancer.”

Evening on the Diamond included the presentation of the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation Community Leadership Award, now named in memory of Lee Hanley, the late TGen Foundation Board Member who passed away in 2012 from pancreatic cancer. The newly named Lee T. Hanley Community Leadership Award was presented to former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl for his 26 years of service in the U.S. Congress. Past winners include TGen Board Chairman Bill Post, TGen Foundation Board Member Karl Eller, and TGen President and Research Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent.

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alyssa Bonagura, who performed Dec. 8 during the 10th annual Seena Magowitz Golf Classic, also performed during Evening on the Diamond.

In March, Brian Cashman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the New York Yankees, at the invitation of D-backs President and CEO Derrick Hall, joined TGen’s National Advisory Council for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Both MLB officials’ fathers died from the disease, and Hall was master of ceremonies at the Seena Magowitz Golf Classic.

Major sponsors of the golf tournament include: Leggett & Platt, Mattress Firm, Sealy, Mattress Discounters, Sleep Inc., Serta, Comfort Revolution, Ellman Family Vineyards, General Wholesale Beer Company, Morley Company, Simmons, Raymond James, Customatic, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Roger Magowitz founded the Seena Magowitz Foundation in honor of his mother, Seena, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001.

medical.research

Medical miracle girl raises funds for TGen

Shelby Valint, the 12-year-old Phoenix girl whose sequenced genome led her from a wheelchair to walking, is raising funds for the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The “Shelby Valint Inspiration Fundraiser” will generate needed research dollars for TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders (C4RCD). It was research through this innovative unit at TGen that helped enable Shelby to go from a wheelchair to walking.

“TGen has done so much for me,” Shelby said. “Now, I want to do something for TGen so they can continue to help other children like me with rare medical disorders.”

The fundraiser is being organized by Shelby’s mother, Renee Valint, and by one of Shelby’s 7th Grade teachers, Tracy Livingston, whose husband – the Honorable Rep. David Livingston – is a freshman member of the Arizona House of Representatives, representing the north Valley’s District 22.

“In October, TGen launched their Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, which is helping parents in Arizona find answers and treatment for their children,” said Rep. Livingston, who has invited Gov. Jan Brewer and members of the Arizona Legislature to the fundraiser at the home of Shelby’s parents, Renee and Scott Valint – 1-5 p.m. April 6 at 1517 E. Red Range Way, about a mile south of Carefree Highway, just east of 14th Street.

“In my recent tour of TGen’s facilities, I saw first-hand the cutting-edge research, tools and technology being used to help children like Shelby,” Rep. Livingston said. “My wife, Tracy … has personally seen Shelby’s amazing transformation.”

By sequencing, or spelling out, the nearly 3 billion letters in Shelby’s DNA, TGen researchers found a gene that prevented Shelby from producing sufficient amounts of a brain chemical called dopamine, which is needed for balance and muscle control.

Using a combination of drugs usually given to older persons for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Shelby was able within several weeks to abandon her wheelchair. She was able to more easily walk, talk, eat and even breathe, generally restoring her to a normal functioning child.

“Before TGen’s discovery, we had been through an enormous amount of despair with all the doctor visits and tests, and I had watched helplessly as Shelby was poked and prodded with a heart-wrenching number of needles and IVs,” Renee Valint said. “Shelby’s newfound ability to walk and talk, and generally lead a normal life, is a testament to the unwavering dedication to helping patients exhibited by the scientists at TGen.”

To see Shelby’s amazing transformation from a girl who was unable to walk, talk and eat to a girl who dances across the room, watch this recent story from CBS 5 News.

 

medical.research

FDA approved thyroid cancer drug tested by TGen

The FDA has approved a thyroid cancer drug successfully tested at Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership of Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved cabozantinib for the treatment of progressive, metastatic medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), a rare endocrine gland cancer affecting the thyroid. Previously, MTC patients had limited treatment options.

“This was a really exciting trial. We have a drug that blocks the gene that causes a rare type of cancer,” said Dr. Michael Demeure, the Site Principal Investigator on the Phase III clinical trial and endocrine surgeon at Scottsdale Healthcare. “We’re trying to do more tests like this to try to bring innovative and exciting new cancer drugs for our patients.”

More than 56,000 Americans will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year, and 1,780 will die from the disease. About 4 percent of thyroid cancers are medullary, a form of carcinoma that originates from the parafollicular, or C, cells, which produce the hormone calcitonin. Physicians are able to confirm a diagnosis of MTC by detecting elevated levels of calcitonin in the blood.

MTC often is not detected until its late stages. And unlike 90 percent of differentiated thyroid cancers, MTC does not respond to the most common treatments, making it difficult to manage.

The RET gene, which is part of the family of tyrosine kinase proteins, plays a role in the development of MTC. Cabozantinib is an inhibitor of multiple receptor tyrosine kinases, including RET, MET and VEGFR2.

“Cabozantinib targets tyrosine kinases that are important in medullary thyroid cancer, including RET, MET and VEGFR2. When such tyrosine kinases — which are known to play a role in tumor growth and metastasis — are also the drug target, that gives you hope that you can impact favorably on the disease,” said Dr. Demeure, contrasting MTC with other cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, where the precise genetic source of the cancer remains unconfirmed or unknown.

The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare enrolled two patients with MTC as part of an international randomized clinical trial of more than 300 patients.

FDA’s approval on Nov. 29 was based on demonstrating improved progression-free survival (PFS). The estimated median PFS was 11.2 months for patients taking cabozantinib, compared to 4 months for patients taking placebo. The drug is sold as COMETRIQ and marketed by South San Francisco-based Exelixis, Inc.

One patient who continues to benefit from clinical trial treatments at Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials is Gordon Hunt, 68, a retired life-insurance salesman from Phoenix.

Hunt said he started noticing discomfort in his neck several years ago. After seeing a series of specialists, a calcitonin test finally confirmed that he had an advanced case of MTC.

Hunt endured several surgeries that included the removal of his thyroid and lymph nodes in his neck and chest. Following his most recent surgeries more than two years ago, performed by Dr. Demeure, Hunt’s calcitonin levels dropped from a one-time high of 3,300 picograms per milliliter, when he was first diagnosed, to about 500 pg/ml.

After receiving cabozantinib since February 2011, Hunt’s calcitonin levels are down to about 250 pg/ml, indicating that the cancer might still be in his system, but he has had no detectable tumors.

“I feel like he saved my life,” Hunt said of Dr. Demeure, who suggested he take part in the cabozantinib clinical trial.

“I’m just thankful for it, because I’m sure I’d be probably ready for another surgery of some sort if I hadn’t been on the medication,” said Hunt, who also expressed gratitude to the entire staff of the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare. “They’ve been responsive to my every need.”

Hunt said he at first suffered side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, weight loss and constipation. But by lowering his dosage, the side effects eventually diminished, he said. Dose reduction was required in 79 percent of clinical trial patients, according to the FDA.

Hunt receives monthly doses of the drug along with tests for calcitonin, as well as quarterly scans for tumors.

Between doses, he and his wife Nancy, a retired schoolteacher, travel extensively, including trips in the past year to California, Texas, Missouri and Australia.

“We’re still active, so that’s a good thing,” said Hunt, noting that the couple, who have lived 47 years in Phoenix, still go regularly to the gym and are active in their church.

“I’m excited. I played a part in making it (FDA approval) happen,” Hunt said. “I thank God that I was chosen to take part in obtaining the approval of the medication. If it works for me, it’s going to work for other people, and that’s good.”

In addition to treating MTC, cabozantinib is being explored as a therapy for numerous tumor types, including prostate, ovarian, brain, melanoma, breast, and non-small cell lung cancers.

medical.research

BIO5-TGen collaboration targets Alzheimer’s disease

BIO5 Oro Valley today announced a collaboration with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to develop new therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

BIO5 Oro Valley co-Director and University of Arizona College of Pharmacy medicinal chemist Dr. Christopher Hulme’s collaborative effort with TGen Assistant Professor Dr. Travis Dunckley will focus on the development of novel, small molecule inhibitors of dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A). Upregulation of this kinase is implicated in promoting memory deficits associated with Down syndrome and neurodegenerative pathologies, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

“DYRK1A is a well-validated, recently discovered target, ready for translational efforts to deliver an oral medication to patients suffering from this insidious disease,” said Dr. Hulme. “Indeed, coupled with the advanced small molecules in-hand that target DYRK1A, further efforts are underway that will broaden our therapeutic presence in the Alzheimer’s arena to other Arizona-based biological discoveries.”

Statistics from the National Institutes of Health indicate that 5.1 million older Americans – or 1-in-8 – suffer from Alzheimer’s, which makes it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Estimated to effect 45 million people worldwide by 2020, dementia is currently a leading, major unmet medical need and a costly burden on public health. Seventy percent of these cases have been attributed to Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative pathology characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive functions.

“This collaborative partnership is a critical step in advancing discoveries of the role DYRK1A plays to developing therapeutics that could alter the course of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Dunckley.

Drs. Hulme and Dunckley will focus on providing a significant alternative to common approaches that focus on small molecules that inhibit the production of neurotoxic fragments of amyloid proteins and antibody immunization approaches targeting the build up of these fragments.

The joint effort will explore the decrease of DYRK1A activity in the brain with proprietary small-molecule inhibitors. This approach could lead to new therapeutic strategies to alleviate cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s and Down syndrome.

Tony Pena, Brian Cashman

Yankees’ GM supports TGen Research

A top official of the New York Yankees whose father passed from pancreatic cancer has joined a prestigious national panel organized by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to fight this aggressive disease.

Brian Cashman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the vaunted Yankees Major League Baseball franchise, has joined TGen’s National Advisory Council for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

TGen’s National Advisory Council leads a critically needed funding effort and promotes a deeper public understanding of pancreatic cancer, the nation’s fourth-leading cause of cancer death, which in 2012 took the lives of nearly 44,000 in the U.S. and nearly 235,000 worldwide.

Cashman lost his father, John, in September after a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He had wanted his Yankees to reach the World Series as one last gift to his father.

“My father loved the Yankees. There are a lot of people who face these kinds of challenges, and they look to the Yankees to provide positive inspiration. For my father, the Yankees were always something he could look forward to,” he said. “I welcome the responsibilities and challenges of my role in the fight against pancreatic cancer. I have a personal experience to draw from, and coupled with my unique standing within the fabric of baseball, I’d like to believe I can make the type of contribution my father would be proud of.”

Cashman was invited to join TGen’s National Advisory Council by another council member, Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, who in 2011 lost his father, Larry, to pancreatic cancer, even as Derrick was fighting his own battle with prostate cancer.

The Yankees and Diamondbacks played one of the game’s iconic 7-game World Series in 2001.

In addition to Cashman and Hall, another MLB official, David Dombrowski – President, CEO and General Manager of the Detroit Tigers – also is a member of the National Advisory Council for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Other members of TGen’s National Advisory Council are: Raymond Bojanowski, Co-founder and Co-chairman of the Seena Magowitz Foundation; Karl Glassman, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Leggett & Platt Inc.; Diane Halle,
President of the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation and the Herbert K. Cummings Charitable Trust; Steve Hilton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Meritage Homes Corp.; David Lane, President of the Lane Affiliated Companies; Roger Magowitz, President and Founder of the Seena Magowitz Foundation; Vincent McBeth, President of the The McBeth Group International and a retired U.S. Navy Commander; Larry Rogers, President and CEO of the Sealy Corp.; Steve Stagner, President and CEO of the Mattress Firm; Louis A. “Chip” Weil III, retired Chairman, President and CEO of Central Newspapers Inc.; and Howard Young, President of the General Wholesale Company.

“Brian Cashman is a powerful addition to TGen’s National Advisory Council. His personal experience, championship reputation, and national visibility will be a huge boost to TGen’s fight against pancreatic cancer,” said Michael Bassoff, TGen Foundation President.

Cashman joined the Yankees as a 19-year-old intern and now commands one of the most demanding jobs in sports. During 25 seasons, he has earned five World Series rings. At age 30, he became the youngest GM to win a World Series. And during 1998-2000 he became the only GM in Baseball history to win World Series titles in each of his first three seasons.

medical.research

Barrett-Jackson Auction, raffle net $129,000 for TGen research

The sale of a 2008 Shelby GT Barrett-Jackson Edition (Lot #3009) and the raffle of a 40th Anniversary Corvette generated $129,000 for cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) during Scottsdale’s 42nd Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.

Proceeds went to the Barrett-Jackson Cancer Research Fund at TGen, in Memory of Russ and Brian Jackson. The fund, established in 2010, is a salute to auction Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson’s father, Russ, and brother, Brian, whose lives were cut short by colon cancer.

The 2008 Shelby GT Barrett-Jackson Edition (Lot #3009) was auctioned Jan. 18 for $100,000 and sold to Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports in Charlotte, N.C.  Ele Chesney, a good friend of Nellie Jackson, the mother of Craig Jackson, donated this red and black convertible — upgraded by TMS Autosports — to raise funds for TGen.

The 1993 40th Anniversary Edition Chevrolet Corvette coupe was won by Roy Moreno of Allan, Texas (near Corpus Christi). The raffle raised $29,000 for TGen’s research. The ruby red Corvette, donated by Phoenix businessman David Harbour, is one of the 40th Anniversary models of this legendary sports car, which was first built in 1953.

Although the raffle was held during the Jan. 13-20 auction at Westworld of Scottsdale, the TGen Foundation conducted the raffle. Neither Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. LLC nor any of its affiliates were responsible for conducting this promotion.

“We are extremely grateful to Craig Jackson and his team at Barrett-Jackson for everything they do to raise funds for TGen research, and for spreading the word about TGen’s pursuit of personalized medicine; treating each patient based on their unique genetic profile,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation.

More than 140,000 Americans, men and women, were diagnosed last year with colon cancer, which in 2012 killed nearly 52,000 patients, the third-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

An additional 241,000 American men were diagnosed last year with prostate cancer, which in 2012 killed nearly 28,000 patients, the second-leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S.

In addition to its annual Scottsdale event, Barrett-Jackson also will conduct collector car auctions this year in: Palm Beach, Fla. (April 4-6), Las Vegas, Nev. (Sept. 26-28), and — announced Jan. 20 — a new auction in Reno, Nev. (Aug. 8-10).

The 2012 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction helped raise nearly $5.9 million for local and national charities.

clinical research advantage - vaccines

TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare study may help pancreatic cancer patients

A multi-center Phase III clinical trial demonstrates that Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) plus gemcitabine is the first combination of cancer drugs to extend survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients compared to standard treatment.
The MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial) study was led by physicians from Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership between Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Their findings show that Abraxane plus gemcitabine was well tolerated and resulted in clinically meaningful outcomes compared to gemcitabine alone, the current standard of care. The study abstract was released today and the data will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers annual meeting Jan. 25 in San Francisco.

“We are ecstatic that this clinical trial of Abraxane plus gemcitabine improves survival for patients with advanced stage IV pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, international lead investigator for MPACT, chief scientific officer for Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare, and TGen’s Physician-In-Chief. “It once again demonstrates that laboratory science based medicine can make a difference for patients.”

MPACT is the largest phase III clinical trial completed in advanced pancreatic cancer with more than 800 patients. Findings from the study showed a 59 percent increase in one-year median survival rates from less than a quarter of the patients (22 percent) to more than a third (35 percent). The two-year survival rate for this cancer is negligible, less than 4 percent, but that more than doubles (9 percent) with the nab-paclitaxel/gemcitabine combination.

One of those patients was Lynne Jacoby, 48, of Phoenix, who works as a director of compliance for a healthcare company. Jacoby was given only weeks to live when her Stage 4 pancreatic adenocarcinoma, a tumor the size of a golf ball, was first diagnosed in April 2012 — nine months ago.

“If you had to live your life in a year, and that is all the time you have, wouldn’t you do everything you could to experience this time,” said Jacoby, who for nearly a year before her diagnosis had experienced night sweats, indigestion, stomach pains, neck and back pain, and an elevated white-blood count.

She began the treatment of Abraxane plus gemcitabine in May 2012 and continues on the medications, saying now that she “feels awesome, wonderful.” She is scheduled to remain on the drug combination through May 2013.

“Life is priceless. No amount of money can be placed on life. I know I would be gone already if it was not for Dr. Von Hoff,” said Jacoby, who also refers to him as “Dr. Von Hope.”

The study showed significant improvement among some of the sickest patients including those with increased metastases. Significantly there was no increase in life-threatening toxicity. Other drug combinations that have demonstrated benefit have been limited by increased toxicities.

“This is a major improvement in a cancer with the lowest survival rates among all cancer types,” said Dr. Ramesh Ramanathan, medical director of Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and principal investigator for the clinical trial in the United States. “Advanced pancreatic cancer is fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. It is difficult to diagnose with a majority of the cases diagnosed at a late stage after the disease has already advanced.”

Abraxane wraps traditional chemotherapy, paclitaxel, in near-nano sized shells of albumin, a protein that the tumor sees as food. The tumor uses various mechanisms to preferentially attract the albumin, which then acts like a “Trojan Horse” to release its package of chemotherapy inside the tumor. It is approved in the U.S. for metastatic breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

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.

The incidence of pancreatic cancer is increasing worldwide with an estimated 279,000 cases per year, including nearly 44,000 in the U.S. in 2012, and resulting in more than 37,000 American deaths last year.

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.

medical.research

TGen-US Oncology data helps triple-negative breast cancer patients

Genomic sequencing has revealed therapeutic drug targets for difficult-to-treat, metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), according to an unprecedented study by the Translational Genomic Research Institute (TGen) and US Oncology Research.

The study is published by the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and is currently available online.

By sequencing, or spelling out, the billions of letters contained in the genomes of 14 tumors from ethnically diverse metastatic TNBC patients, TGen and US Oncology Research investigators found recurring significant mutations and other changes in more than a dozen genes. In addition, the investigators identified mutations previously unseen in metastatic TNBC and took the sequencing data into account in selection of therapeutic protocols specific to each patient’s genetic profile.

“This study stands as a one-of-a-kind effort that has already led to potentially beneficial clinical trials, and sets the stage for future investigations,” said Dr. John Carpten, Ph.D., TGen’s Deputy Director of Basic Science and Director of TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, and the study’s senior author.

The most frequently mutated gene among the tumors (seven of 14) was the TP53 tumor suppressor, and aberrations were observed in additional tumor suppressor genes including CTNNA1, which was detected in two of six African American patients (who typically have more aggressive and treatment-resistant disease). Alterations were also seen in the ERBB4 gene, known to be involved in mammary-gland maturation during pregnancy and lactation, but not previously linked to metastatic TNBC.

The study included an “outlier analysis,” which assessed expression patterns for each tumor when compared against the other tumors examined in the study. Specific cancer genes overexpressed among tumors in the study’s cohort included: ALK, AR, ARAF, BRAF, FGFR2, GLI1, GLI2, HRAS, HSP90AA1, KRAS, MET, NOTCH2, NOTCH3, and SHH. Significantly underexpressed cancer genes included: BRCA1, BRCA2, CDKN2A, CTNNA1, DKK1, FBXW7, NF1, PTEN, and SFN.

Each tumor was genomically unique, but nine of the 14 contained alterations in one or both of two particular cellular pathways: RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK and PI3K/AKT/MTOR.  Targeted therapeutic intervention aimed at these pathways achieved impressive responses in several cases.

“Importantly, the analysis provided insights into the potential unique therapeutic vulnerabilities of each cancer,” said Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy, M.D., the study’s other co-lead author. Dr. O’Shaughnessy is a practicing oncologist with Texas Oncology — an affiliate of The US Oncology Network — and is the Celebrating Women Chair of Breast Cancer Research at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center.

Metastatic TNBC is a highly aggressive form of breast cancer that disproportionately affects African-Americans. It is called triple-negative because tumors do not express the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor or HER-2, the biomarkers successfully targeted in most breast cancers.

Metastatic TNBC also has a poor prognosis once the cancer has spread to other organs, with a median survival rate among metastatic patients of only one year. While TNBC accounts for only about 15 percent of all breast cancers, its more aggressive biology makes it responsible for nearly one in four deaths related to this disease.

“The nature of this disease cries out for innovative research techniques such as whole genome sequencing coupled with new tools for data analysis,” said Dr. David Craig, Ph.D., TGen’s Deputy Director of Bioinformatics, and one of the study’s co-lead authors.

“We are aware that these results are preliminary and based on a small series of patients,” said Carpten. “However, our study will pave the way for new clinical trials and novel hypotheses for future testing in a very difficult to treat cancer.”

Whole-genome sequencing of tumors and normal tissue was performed on Life Technologies Corporation’s Applied Biosystems SOLiD™ 4.0 platform, and results were validated in a CLIA-certified laboratory.

The study, “Genome and transcriptome sequencing in prospective triple negative breast cancer uncovers therapeutic vulnerabilities,” is sponsored by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and US Oncology Research with support from Life Technologies Corporation.

Molecular Cancer Therapeutics is one of several peer-reviewed scientific journals published by the 34,000-member American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world focused on every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research. The programs and services of the AACR foster the exchange of knowledge and new ideas among scientists dedicated to cancer research, provide training opportunities for the next generation of cancer researchers, and increase public understanding of cancer.

 

molecular

Phoenix Children’s Hospital, TGen create Molecular Medicine Institute

Phoenix Children’s Hospital announced the creation of the Ronald A. Matricaria Institute of Molecular Medicine Tuesday, in a joint venture with The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and The University of Arizona’s College of Medicine.

The three organizations are joining forces with the hopes of unlocking genetic codes in child, adolescent and young adult cancer patients and develop drug therapies in real time to improve the outcome and treatment in these young demographics.

“Our goal is to bring genomics to the forefront of pediatrics,” said Robert L. Meyer, Phoenix Children’s president and CEO. “Research and development of novel treatments for pediatric diseases has fallen short over past decades.”

The reason why the Ronald A. Matricaria Institute of Molecular Medicine is focusing on young patients is because there have been hardly any new therapies introduced to this population in the past two decades. The new institute hopes that clinical studies on children will lead to a better understanding of specific differences between children and adults, which will hopefully lead to the development of safer, more effective and more age-appropriate drug treatments that can be provided in a faster amount of time.

“A challenge with existing molecular medicine programs is the amount of time it takes to develop a new drug or treatment,” Meyer said. “Our collaboration with TGen and University of Arizona opens the doors to making a portfolio of drugs and compounds available immediately.”

The institute will also focus their clinical studies based on underlying genetic and molecular functions of different pediatric cancers, rather than specifically on tumor type. Furthermore, physicians will then create various treatment plans specifically for each patient treated based on the drug therapy that will attack and correct the malfunctioning genes.

With the start of the new institute, a special team of physician scientists will be brought on board to help start out the genomic profiling: Dr. Timothy Triche, a pediatric pathologist and former director of the Center for Personalized Medicine at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles; Dr. Robert Arceci, a pediatric oncologist from Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, a medical oncologist at TGen.

“We are trying to figure out a way to have children get appropriate drugs,” said Dr. Robert Arceci. “We all want to know what causes diseases and how we can treat them and I think it takes a special team of people to do this and it takes a lot of unselfish commitment.”

A founding member from whom the institute gets its name, Ronald A. Matricaria, a member of the board of directors for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, is excited and hopeful for what the new institute is capable of doing in the world of pediatric care.

“Based on my knowledge of the institute and many years of working in the medical field, I’m confident that we can chart a new course for addressing the unique needs of children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases,” Matricaria said. “We could have a huge impact on children’s live and what could be better than that.

 

medical.research

TGen Launches Website Focused on Rare Adrenal Cancer

A new website officially launched by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) provides patients and their families with 24-7 access to essential and comprehensive information on Adrenocortical Carcinoma (ACC), a rare and deadly form of cancer.

Named in memory or Kirsten Sandstrom, Kirsten’s Legacy is TGen’s research and clinical program for defeating ACC. The site includes facts about ACC, links to valuable patient resources and the latest updates on progress being made by TGen researchers and clinicians studying ACC.

To all those who knew her, Kirsten was an extraordinarily caring and loving woman. As a wife, mother, daughter and friend, Kirsten displayed a level of grace and selflessness that lifted the hearts of her family and lent them strength as she endured a 21-month struggle with ACC that claimed her life in March of 2010.

As part of a $1.5 million gift to TGen in support of ACC research, Kirsten’s parents Gary and Barbara Pasquinelli of Yuma, Arizona, worked with their son-in-law Ed Sandstrom and TGen to establish Kirsten’s Legacy. The Pasquinelli’s made their donation as a challenge gift to help encourage others to support ACC research.
“We had trouble finding information on ACC, so we established the Kirsten’s Legacy website to provide timely information for patients, their families and friends as TGen pursues better treatments and moves toward a cure for this terrible disease,” said Gary Pasquinelli. “The website enables those dealing with ACC to know immediately that they are not alone — that there is hope— a place where you can get substantial information about ACC without having to go through what we went through.”

Prior to the Pasquinelli gift and the launch of the Kirsten’s Legacy website, ACC survivor Troy Richards established TGen’s ACC program and actively raised dollars for research through his Advancing Treatment for Adrenal Cancer (ATAC) fund.
In May 2005, Richards met with TGen Drs. Daniel Von Hoff and Michael Demeure to discuss establishing TGen’s ACC Research Program. Richards also developed a website and co-founded what is now the largest ACC support group on the Web. He continues to raise funds and be an advocate by helping patients worldwide to receive the best possible care.

After learning of the Pasquinelli gift, Richards and the Pasquinelli family chose to merge their efforts and today pursue a cure for ACC through the Kirsten’s Legacy program.
“The goal of the website, the entire program for that matter, is to educate others about ACC and support TGen scientists and clinicians,’’ said Troy Richards. “Our hope is that Kirsten’s Legacy continues the work we’ve started and paves the way to improved treatments and understanding of ACC, and ultimately, leads to a cure.”
ACC is rare: less than 2 individuals in 1 million are susceptible. When the numbers are that low, few federal or philanthropic dollars flow toward studying the causes or finding a cure. That means fewer advances in diagnoses or therapeutic treatments. Also known as cancer of the adrenal cortex or ACC, TGen scientists and clinicians conduct their work with a sense of extreme urgency, knowing the fight against ACC lingers and few institutions are working to defeat this deadly cancer.

“The Kirsten’s Legacy website will enable TGen to create a community of ACC patients and advocates around the world and to share our research progress and resources,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff. “The support of Troy Richards, the Pasquinelli’s and Ed Sandstrom, serves to remind us of the power and importance of collaboration, enabling TGen’s mission against ACC.”

TGen Drs. Kimberly Bussey and Michael Demeure lead a team of scientists and clinicians who, for the first time, have completed the first whole genome sequencing of ACC tumors. This offers new insight into the possible causes of this extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer by identifying all 3 billion chemical DNA bases of ACC tumors. Researchers compare the cancer DNA to a patient’s normal DNA to discover what’s different; what mutations might cause the disease.

The ACC research team at TGen is eager to work with all investigators on efforts to improve treatments for affected patients.

Visit Kirsten’s Legacy at: kirstenslegacy.org.

medical.research

Golf tournament benefits TGen pancreatic cancer research

Nearly 450 participants, including 288 golfers, are expected Dec. 7-8 at the 10th anniversary Seena Magowitz Golf Classic, benefiting pancreatic cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The weekend charity tournament at the world-famous Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa is sponsored by the Seena Magowitz Foundation, which helps fund TGen’s global effort to eradicate pancreatic cancer, the nation’s fourth leading cause of cancer death.

The Golf Classic, which this year is expected to raise more than $500,000, also will feature celebrity emcees and two leading scientists in the field of cancer research.

“If we continue working together in a hard-fought campaign to curb this brutal disease, I’m confident that our efforts will make a life-changing difference,” said Leggett & Platt COO Karl Glassman, this year’s tournament Honorary Chairman, who lost his mother to breast cancer and a good friend to pancreatic cancer.

Following the golf tournament on Dec. 8, Derrick Hall, President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will co-emcee an awards luncheon with journalist and television personality Tara Hitchcock.

The luncheon’s featured speakers are: Keynote Speaker Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen’s Physician-In-Chief and one of the world’s leading authorities on pancreatic cancer; and Dr. Victor Velculescu, a Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

The weekend event kicks off from 6-11 p.m. Dec. 7 with a special Monte Carlo casino welcome, including live jazz from renowned trumpeter Jessie McGuire.

The golf tournament begins at 7 a.m. Dec. 8 with breakfast and registration, followed at 8:25 a.m. by McGuire’s special rendition of the National Anthem, which will begin the tournament’s shotgun start.

The luncheon — with special guests, a live auction and raffle — starts at 1 p.m.

The event caps off with an 8 p.m. Anniversary Music Concert, staring: pop artist Alyssa Bonagura, who just released a new album, Love Hard; Ira Dean, former member of the band Trick Pony; and Brooke Burrows.

“A decade ago, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the tremendous progress that has been made by TGen to help conquer this disease,” said Roger Magowitz, President of the Magowitz Foundation, which he founded in honor of his mother, Seena, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001. “The advent of TGen’s whole genome sequencing and the ability to search out each patient’s genetic vulnerability is a phenomenal biomedical advance.”

TGen’s use of whole genome sequencing in analyzing three pancreatic cancer patients was recently documented in a scientific study, funded in part by the Magowitz Foundation, and published in October by the Public Library of Science.

In addition, the Magowitz Foundation helped support a study that concluded in November that a new cancer drug combination demonstrated significant improvement in overall survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients, according to a clinical trial led by Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership with TGen.

“TGen’s groundbreaking pancreatic cancer research receives a tremendous boost from the Seena Magowitz Foundation’s annual December events,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the non-profit TGen Foundation. “Industry leaders like Leggett & Platt and Mattress Firm are making a difference in the lives of pancreatic cancer patients today.”

Pancreatic cancer annually takes the lives of more than 37,000 Americans. A staggering 74 percent of those diagnosed die within the first year, and only 6 percent survive more than five years.

Major tournament sponsors include: Leggett & Platt, Mattress Firm, Sealy, Mattress Discounters, Sleep Inc., Serta, Comfort Revolution, Ellman Family Vineyards, General Wholesale Beer Company, Morley Company, Simmons, Raymond James, Customatic, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A golf foursome, including the welcome and luncheon, is $1,750. Individual golfers are $450. For those who don’t play golf, and still want to participate, the welcome is $100 per person, while the luncheon is $150 per person.

Corporate sponsorships are available, ranging from $500 to $100,000. Sponsors may contact: Roger Magowitz at 602-524-7636 or roger@seenamagowitzfoundation.org; Liz McBeth, Tournament Director, at 757-773-7622 or liz@seenamagowitzfoundation.org; or Alison Bassoff, Vice President of Development, 602-361-7006 or Allison@seenamagowitzfoundation.org.

medical.research

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.

carbon

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.

133885164

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.’’

153797659

TGen Launches Center for Rare Childhood Disorders

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) today announced the creation of a new center that could have life changing effects on the lives of potentially thousands of children and their families.

The TGen Center for Rare Childhood Disorders (C4RCD) will harness the latest technologic leaps in genome sequencing to pinpoint the causes of rare childhood disorders that largely remain a mystery to modern medicine.

“We envision a Center that leverages today’s genomic technology toward diagnosing children with a baffling array of seriously debilitating, and often lethal, symptoms for which there is no known cause or treatment, let alone a cure. In many cases, it’s merely a collection of symptoms,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, President and Scientific Director of TGen. “Through the C4RCD, TGen has a unique opportunity to significantly improve the lives of these children and their families.”

The Honorable Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer praised the new TGen initiative as a major step in meeting the healthcare needs of Arizonans, and as a fundamental building block of the state’s burgeoning biotechnology sector.

“With its new Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, TGen continues to position Arizona as a world-class leader in bioscience and research,” said Gov. Brewer. “More importantly, this program holds the promise of bringing much-needed certainty and hope to the lives of thousands of Arizona children and their families. I commend TGen for its pioneering work that is making a real difference in the lives of Arizonans.”

Resolving the plight of one 12-year-old Phoenix girl named Shelby helped pave the way for C4RCD. Shelby was once a wheelchair-bound patient who for nearly a decade had difficulty walking, talking, holding her head up, and who had difficulty swallowing, and even breathing.

Shelby’s sequenced genome showed she had a problem making dopamine, a key brain chemical that helps regulate movement, muscle control and balance. Within a few months of receiving a medication to address her dopamine deficiency, Shelby was able to do away with her wheelchair. Now, she can talk, walk; enjoy restaurants, shopping and school.

“For us, TGen has been a miracle,” said Shelby’s mother, Renee, who hopes TGen’s C4RCD will bring hope to other parents, as well. “I am truly ecstatic. Shelby and I are very happy about it. It gives parents a place to go when it may seem that they’ve lost all hope. The scientists at TGen are amazing.”

Often, there are just a few children, or even a single child, with a particular set of symptoms. Collectively, according to the National Institutes of Health, there are close to 7,000 rare diseases and about 25 million people in the U.S. have one.

“Too often, the parents of these children are left with nowhere to turn. They often are simply prescribed medications for their child, such as anti-seizure drugs, that only address the symptoms,” said Dr. David Craig, TGen’s Deputy Director of Bioinformatics and Co-Director of the C4RCD.

“At TGen, we now have the tools to sequence the entire genome of these children, in a relatively short time and at ever-lower costs. Through this examination of the billions of chemical letters that spell out each human being’s unique genome, and analyzing all the potential genetic changes, or mutations, we now have the ability to potentially identify the root cause of each child’s condition,” said Dr. Craig.

Understanding what is causing the disease or condition enables TGen to consider treatment options that could best help each child.

“Largely, these families have not had many answers. They’ve seen a lot of doctors. They’ve run a lot of tests. If they’re lucky, their disease might have a name,” said Dr. Matthew Huentelman, Head of TGen’s Neurobehavioral Research Unit and Co-Director with Dr. Craig of the C4RCD. “We hope to provide these families — first and foremost — with answers. We strongly believe those answers will be found in their genome.”

Once a genetic target is identified, C4RCD will look for an existing FDA-approved drug that could be repurposed to treat the rare disorder.

If there is no obvious approved drug, C4RCD will develop a custom screening approach to prioritize approved drugs in order of their potential effectiveness. In this fashion, it may be possible to help improve the quality of life for these children quickly without the time-consuming development of an entirely new pharmaceutical agent.

TGen’s C4RCD has four major components: 1) Clinical evaluation and genomic diagnosis. 2) Counseling, and optimizing conventional therapy. 3) Novel therapy development. 4) Community outreach.

Each child will be clinically evaluated and have their genome tested, including the use of whole genome sequencing, which spells out the entire 3 billion letters of each individual’s DNA genetic code.

“One of the important things is to collect available clinical information, and accurately define the phenotype, or problem, causing the child’s issues. That has to be framed very carefully, correctly. This initial step is critical in order to analyze the genome sequencing data,” said Dr. Vinodh Narayanan, Medical Director of C4RCD.

“A precise genetic or molecular diagnosis is of vital importance for the entire family of our patients. But that is just the beginning. We want to use this genetic information to understand more about the particular disorder, and develop novel approaches to treatment. That is what is going to differentiate us from other services — complete integration of the clinical center and the genomic research lab,” said Dr. Narayanan.

Dr. Trent said that there is a critical unmet need in the medical community, which only now can begin to be addressed through the advent of new genomic technologies.

“We continue to be amazed at the way families of children with debilitating conditions are able to find each other, share stories of their victories and of what is wrong, and try to come up with answers,” said Dr. Trent. “We hope to become an active partner and leader in these communities as we learn from the families and patients, and then try to come up with new and better answers for these children — today.”

For information about TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, please go to c4rcd.org or call 1-855-343-8611.

Cancer-Research

Philanthropists establish $100,000 cancer challenge

Through Sept. 30, donations for ovarian cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) will be matched — up to $100,000 — by philanthropists Lynn and Foster Friess.

The challenge is in memory of Taryn Ritchey, the 22-year-old daughter of Judy Jost of Cave Creek, Ariz., a personal assistant to Foster Friess. In 2007, Taryn lost her battle with ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women.

“Taryn is gone physically, but her spirit remains. She is always with me, always in my heart. And, she continues to inspire the doctors and researchers at TGen,” her mother said. “My daughter never gave up, and neither has TGen, which continues to advance cutting-edge genetic technology in pursuit of better cancer treatments; and perhaps, someday — we can pray — a cure.”

TGen’s advanced genomics-based treatments, using molecular DNA profiling, gave Taryn another five months of life — months that still mean the world to her family.

“It gave us, and Taryn, hope.  She never gave up hope.  We never did, and neither did TGen,” Judy Jost said.

Lynn and Foster Friess, who split their time between Scottsdale, Ariz., and Jackson, Wyo., have previously donated more than $400,000 to TGen for ovarian cancer research.

“We continue to support ovarian cancer research in memory of Judy’s daughter, Taryn, because we are confident that TGen can win the battle against ovarian cancer, and save lives,” Foster Friess said.

The Friess Family Foundation will match contributions, dollar-for-dollar — up to $100,000 — to TGen’s ovarian cancer research. The challenge will end Sept. 30, 2012.

““The philanthropic leadership of Lynn and Foster Friess is a tremendous inspiration for our scientific researchers, as well as our patients and contributors,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff.

For more information or to donate, go to www.tgenfoundation.org or contact Erin Massey, Director of Development, at emassey@tgen.org or 602-343-8470.

Ivy Foundation

Ivy Foundation Contributes $10 Million To TGen For Research

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation has awarded $10 million in grants for two groundbreaking brain cancer research projects at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

One $5-million-project is titled “Outliers in Glioblastoma Outcome: Moving the curve forward.” This five-year investigation seeks to discover why approximately two percent of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients — the outliers — live far beyond the average survival time of 18 months. GBM is the most common and aggressive form of malignant primary brain tumor; 98 percent of people diagnosed with GBM live less than 18 months.

“A major challenge with brain cancer is that people survive such a short time,” said Catherine (Bracken) Ivy, founder and president of The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. “If this research enables patients to live longer, clinicians and researchers will gain a better understanding of how this disease works, which will bring us time to move closer to a cure.”

“The tireless and dedicated support of programs like the Ivy Foundation is helping transform ideas into medical reality,” said TGen President and Research Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent.

By precisely identifying the billions of molecular building blocks in each patient’s DNA through whole genome sequencing, TGen researchers hope to discover the genetic differences between those patients who survive only a few months, and those who survive longer because their brain cancer develops more slowly.

Using these genetic targets, TGen researchers will identify those patients most likely to benefit from the current standard of care, and those who might best benefit from alternative or new experimental treatments.

“If we can identify patients who will likely only survive a few months on current standard of care regimens we can then prioritize those patients for personalized clinical trials,” said Dr. David Craig, TGen’s deputy director of bioinformatics and one of the project’s principal investigators.

In the second $5-million project, “Genomics Enabled Medicine in Glioblastoma Trial,” TGen and its clinical partners will lead first-in-patient clinical trial studies that will test promising new drugs that might extend the survival of GBM patients.

This multi-part study will take place in clinics across the country and TGen laboratories.

This project begins with a pilot study of 15 patients, using whole genome sequencing to study their tumor samples to help physicians determine what drugs might be most beneficial.

To support molecularly informed clinical decisions, TGen labs also will examine genomic data from at least 536 past cases of glioblastoma, as well as tumor samples from new cases, developing tools that will produce more insight into how glioblastoma tumors grow and survive. TGen also will conduct a series of pioneering lab tests to measure cell-by-cell responses to various drugs.

“We expect to identify genes that play a crucial role in this cancer’s survival and that may be crucial to the survival of other types of cancer as well,” said Dr. Michael Bittner, co-director of TGen’s Computational Biology Division.

To get new treatments to patients as quickly as possible, this five-year study will include a feasibility study involving up to 30 patients, followed by Phase II clinical trials with as many as 70 patients. TGen intends to team with the Ivy Early Phase Clinical Trials Consortium that includes: University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Los Angeles; the MD Anderson Cancer Center; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; University of Utah; and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

The results of these clinical trials should not only help the patients who join them, but also provide the data needed for FDA approval and availability of new drugs that could benefit tens of thousands of brain cancer patients in the future.

“Working with physicians, the project will aim to get new drugs to patients faster, deliver combinations of drugs that might be more effective than using a single drug, quickly identify which therapies don’t work, and accelerate discovery of ones that might prove promising for future development,” said Dr. John Carpten, TGen’s deputy director of basic science, director of TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, and another of the project’s principal investigators.

In addition to helping patients as quickly as possible, the projects should significantly expand Arizona’s network of brain cancer experts.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to find more solutions for the patient diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Ivy, who also is working to establish additional clinical trials in the Phoenix area, giving local patients more treatment options. “The clinical trials are very exciting because they can impact the patient today.”

For more information on the Ivy Foundation, visit their website www.ivyfoundation.org.

forma therapeutics

FORMA Therapeutics Teams With TGen Drug Development

FORMA Therapeutics and TGen Drug Development (TD2) announced an agreement to jointly develop transformative cancer therapies, leveraging the synergistic capabilities of both organizations.

“TD2 brings preclinical and clinical development capabilities to FORMA, filling the missing piece in our strategy to become a fully-integrated research and development organization, leading the creation of breakthrough medicines for cancer patients”

TD2 is a subsidiary of the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a world-renowned biomedical research institute.

FORMA and TD2 also announced that Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., F.A.C.P., TGen’s Distinguished Professor and Physician-in-Chief, and Stephen Gately, Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer at TD2, will serve as clinical advisors to FORMA.

FORMA Therapeutics targets essential cancer pathways to create transformative, small molecule cancer therapies. Its focus on early identification of potent tool compounds helps facilitate target validation, enabling the creation of a robust pipeline of new therapies in areas such as tumor metabolism, protein-protein interactions and epigenetics.

TD2’s mission is to facilitate innovative drug development and move new, targeted compounds to patients as quickly as possible. TD2 applies cutting-edge preclinical tools, streamlined and efficient regulatory processes and unique, targeted clinical trial designs and strategies. The combination of cutting-edge science, clinical development expertise and access to patients will accelerate the development of new agents for patients.

“I am excited about the potential of this relationship between FORMA and TD2,” said Dr. Von Hoff. “It will accelerate the creation of new molecules that could be placed in research programs, such as our US Oncology Research Phase I program, further accelerating development and getting the right treatment to the right patient as soon as possible.”

“TD2 brings preclinical and clinical development capabilities to FORMA, filling the missing piece in our strategy to become a fully-integrated research and development organization, leading the creation of breakthrough medicines for cancer patients,” said Steven Tregay, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of FORMA. “We welcome Drs. Von Hoff and Gately as advisors and their unprecedented experience and networks in oncology drug development.”

“FORMA’s pioneering approach to oncology small molecule drug discovery has been prolific in tackling intractable targets and establishing industry partnerships,” said Dr. Von Hoff. “We look forward to bringing the experience of our team to the FORMA team to guide its discovery programs and develop these important new drugs for patients.”

TD2 has helped transition more than 40 companies from discovery to clinical development over the past five years, and TD2 has collective experience in performing clinical studies on more than 400 new anti-cancer agents

“Our oncology discovery programs span more than 30 drug targets per year, and we need a partner to help direct the right drugs to the right patient groups,” said Kenneth Bair, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research and Development of FORMA Therapeutics. “The TD2 team provides unique access to genetically selected patient populations that will help us both discover and test personalized therapeutics.”

For more information on FORMA Therapeutics and TGen Drug Development, visit FORMA Therapeutics’s website at formatherapeutics.com and visit TGen Drug Development’s website td2.org.

man looking at molecular structure model

Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Breaking New Ground

Arizona’s bioscience roadmap has helped guide the state into the future.

A political breakthrough, not a scientific one, may be the biggest spark for the Valley’s burgeoning bioscience industry.

“The bioscience industry is critical to our economic future,” says Greg Stanton, who took over as the new mayor of Phoenix in January. “While other industries have lost jobs during the recession, bioscience created them. I am proud to have been a leader in supporting bioscience industries. … As mayor, I will continue that leadership — building a diverse, robust economy with quality high-wage jobs for our future.”

In his inaugural remarks, Stanton said that his first priority as mayor is forming a new collaboration with Arizona State University, Mayo Clinic Hospital and others in the private sector to develop a major bioscience hub in northeast Phoenix.

The Desert Ridge Bioscience Technology Collaborative will be built around the 210-acre Mayo campus. The area Stanton hopes to develop into a bioscience hub is the area between 56th and 64th streets, Loop 101 and the Central Arizona Project canal. The mayor hopes to draw higher education institutions, research and development facilities, and technology-based businesses. “In over a decade of public service, Greg Stanton has always fought to support the bioscience industry,” says Robert S. Green, longtime Arizona bioscience advocate and past president of the Arizona BioIndustry Association. “His consistent leadership has been, and will continue to be, vitally important to the future economic growth of our state.”

The Desert Ridge Bioscience Technology Collaborative will be the second centralized bioscience hub for Phoenix. The city already has a bioscience high school, the University of Arizona’s Phoenix medical school, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), which has spurred economic growth downtown. Stanton hopes to recreate the same success in northeast Phoenix, creating a second bioscience employment center for the city.

Stanton’s goals of bringing more high-wage jobs to Phoenix while building the city’s bioscience industry go hand in hand. Bioscience workers in Arizona earn an annual salary of $57,360, on average, compared with $42,090 for all private-sector employees, according to the Flinn Foundation. And average annual bioscience wages in Arizona have increased 47 percent since 2002.

The Desert Ridge Bioscience announcement also comes as the state enters the the final year of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, a 10-year-plan to make the state’s bioscience sector globally competitive. Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap was launched in 2002 by a comprehensive study by Battelle, the U.S. leader in positioning regions to excel in technology and the sciences. Commissioned by the Flinn Foundation, the study concluded that Arizona possessed many of the essential elements needed to become a global leader in niche areas in the biosciences, but must strengthen its biomedical-research base and build a critical mass of bioscience firms and jobs.

The roadmap, led by a 75-member steering committee of statewide bioscience leaders, specifically aims to build research infrastructure, build a critical mass of bioscience firms, enhance the business environment for bioscience firms, and prepare a workforce of educated citizens.

Arizona Bioscience Timeline

The following is a timeline of significant events that happened in the bioscience industry in Arizona since 2001.

2001

• Flinn Foundation commits to 10 years of major funding (a minimum of $50 million) to advance Arizona’s bioscience sector.

2002

• Gov. Dee Hull appoints a task force to raise funds to attract the International Genomics Consortium (IGC) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

• Dr. Jeffrey Trent announces IGC’s move to Arizona and establishment of TGen, spurred by a $90 million package assembled from collaborating public and private sources.

• Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, commissioned by the Flinn Foundation and drafted by Battelle, outlines recommendations for Arizona to become a national biosciences leader.

2003

• Gov. Janet Napolitano creates the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology to advance technology-related growth and economic development.

• TGen breaks ground on its downtown-Phoenix headquarters.

• The state Legislature approves $440 million for research-facility construction.

• Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, piloted by former Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza, holds its inaugural meeting.

2004

• Gov. Janet Napolitano, UA President Peter Likins, ASU President Michael Crow, and Regent Gary Stuart sign memorandum of understanding to create the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, to include the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with ASU.

• Maricopa County voters approve a bond issue that includes $100 million to expand bioscience and healthcare training for Maricopa County Colleges.

• Biodesign Institute’s first building, a $73 million, 170,000-square-foot facility, is dedicated.

2005

• TGen headquarters opens at the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

• Mayo Clinic opens a heart-transplantation program on its Scottsdale campus, becoming Maricopa County’s first hospital approved for performing heart transplants.

2006

• Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust commits $50 million to advance personalized medicine in Maricopa County.

• Arizona launches the Biozona brand to promote the state’s bioscience industry.

2007

• Cancer Treatment Centers of America selects Goodyear as the site for a 210,000-square-foot cancer hospital, the for-profi t company’s first hospital west of the Rocky Mountains.

• Classes begin for 24 students in the inaugural class of the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with ASU.

• Bioscience High School opens. The specialty high school focuses on science education, in collaboration with downtown-Phoenix academic and scientifi c communities.

2008

• ASU’s SkySong opens in Scottsdale; mixed-use development houses ASU commercialization and tech-transfer programs plus local and international companies.

• Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl named “Legislator of the Year” for 2007-2008 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the nation’s largest biotech trade group.

• Gov. Janet Napolitano announces formation of the Arizona STEM Education Center to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

2009

• TGen announces strategic alliance with Van Andel Research Institute of Grand Rapids, Mich. Jeffrey Trent assumes leadership of both institutions.

• Covance Inc. opens $175 million drug-development laboratory in Chandler. Facility may ultimately provide 2,000 high-wage jobs.

• A study of Arizona’s bioscience sector by Battelle finds that bio accounted for $12.5 billion in revenues in 2007 and more than 87,400 jobs.

• Chandler approves $5.7 million to establish bioscience- and high-tech-focused Innovations Technology Incubator.

2010

• VisionGate Inc., a Seattle medical-imaging company focused on early detection of cancer, announces that it is relocating its headquarters to the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

• Gov. Jan Brewer announces the creation of the Arizona Commerce Authority, a public-private partnership designed to attract firms in key growth areas, including the biosciences.

• The International Genomics Consortium secures $59 million in federal contracts to continue its role as the biospecimen core resource for the Cancer Genome Atlas Project.

2011

• Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon announces that Phoenix will be the headquarters for the nonprofit Institute for Advanced Health, founded by billionaire biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong.

• Phoenix Children’s Hospital opens its new 11-story, $588 million facility, accommodating

additional patients and new opportunity for recruitment of subspecialist researcher-physicians.

• An economic-impact report finds that for every $1 invested in Science Foundation Arizona by the state of Arizona, SFAz has returned $3.15 in investments from the private sector, venture capital, federal grants, and other sources.

• Chandler’s Innovations Technology Incubator, open a year, reached full capacity. Tenants include startup firms in the fields of biotechnology, bioinformatics, software design, nanotechnology, and medical devices.

2012

• Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says that his first priority as mayor is forming a new collaboration with Arizona State University, Mayo Clinic Hospital and others in the private sector to develop the Desert Ridge Bioscience Technology Collaborative in northeast Phoenix.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012