Tag Archives: Ventana Medical Systems

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Ventana Receives Manufacturing Excellence Award

The Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) will bestow upon Ventana Medical Systems Inc. a 2014 Manufacturing Excellence Award. Vice President of the AME Manufacturing Excellence Awards Council Michael Bremer will visit Ventana on Oct. 29 to present the award. The company will officially be honored during the 2014 AME International Excellence Inside Conference, Nov. 10-14 in Jacksonville, Florida.

The AME Manufacturing Excellence Award is the premier award for excellence in manufacturing operations. The award recognizes leaders demonstrating best practices in continuous improvement methodology, creativity and innovation. The rigorous selection process begins when a company submits an extensive achievement report highlighting their efforts implementing continuous improvement practices across the entire value stream, covering manufacturing best practices, supply-chain flow, product development, safety initiatives and people powered excellence.

The AME assessment team then evaluates achievement reports against established criteria. Companies that receive the overall highest achievement scores are selected for an on-site visit by industry-expert auditors. Over the course of two days, auditors verify the information in the report, confirm that continuous improvement practices are embedded in the company culture and that senior management is engaged in the process. Award winners are selected based on the combined results of the achievement report and the on-site visit.

“Each year, a significant number of companies submit applications for these awards, with only a select few make it through to our final round of considerations,” said AME President Barbara Morrison. “AME Manufacturing Excellence Award recipients are a class above the rest—they represent the pinnacle of operational excellence in action.”

The AME assessment team praised Ventana for its dedication to accountability and for taking great care of employees, customers and the community. The assessors also praised the company, remarking “The commitment by Ventana to their cultural beliefs is definitely a best practice of people-centered leadership combined with enterprise excellence, which is a core tenant of AME.” They also lauded the progress and improvements the company has achieved in the last three years, stating, “We believe … [the] Ventana focus on excellence in every aspect of the company will provide a thriving future…”

“This was one of the best audits,” commented Himanshu Parikh, vice president of Manufacturing Operations at Ventana. “We were able to work with industry leaders during the audit process to get affirmation of our lean journey and embedded continuous improvement culture. The insight provided by the auditors will be valuable as we continue with our journey.”

Ventana Medical Systems Inc. is a member of the Roche Group. Founded in 1985, the company today employs 1,200 people and manufactures and distributes over 250 unique cancer diagnostic tests and related instruments worldwide. Ventana is committed to improving the lives of all patients afflicted with cancer.

AZBio Pioneer Honoree Roy Curtiss, III, Ph.D. of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. Photo Courtesy of ASU.

AZBio honors ASU scientist Curtiss

Roy Curtiss, III, Ph.D., of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Arizona Bioindustry Association.

“During his career, Roy Curtiss has had a profound impact on microbiology research and been a true pioneer in developing salmonella-based vaccines that are effective against a range of infectious diseases, which are still the leading cause of worldwide death,” said Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of AZBio. “His contributions since being recruited to Arizona a decade ago have continued unabated, and he is now on the cusp of bringing his remarkable discoveries to the marketplace.”

“Roy’s lifelong dedication and achievements in bioscience research, education and innovation are really quite remarkable, and his efforts have inspired countless life science careers,” said Biodesign Institute Executive Director Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D. “His passion and commitment in taking on the challenges of combating infectious diseases and the impact he is having on urgent societal problems make him a stellar example of the translational research spirit of the Biodesign Institute.”

Curtiss was drawn to ASU President Michael Crow’s vision of a New American University and a new state-of-the-art research enterprise, the Biodesign Institute, which opened in 2004. Shortly after arriving at ASU, Curtiss received the largest support of his career, more than $15.4 million from the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has also received generous and continued support from the National Institutes of Health throughout his career.

Curtiss’ primary focus is alleviating worldwide suffering and death from infectious diseases, particularly in the developing world. At Biodesign, he directs the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, where he oversees a 130-member research team working on more than a dozen projects. He is also a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

One of his major projects is development of a next-generation vaccine against bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia kills more children around the world each year than any other infectious disease, and the rising costs of vaccines has spurred researchers to develop new solutions. Curtiss and his global team are trying to perfect a safe, yet potent vaccine to fight pneumonia and can be tolerated even by newborn babies — and orally administered as a single-dose, low-cost solution. If successful, the new vaccine against bacterial pneumonia promises to outperform existing injectable vaccine in terms of safety, affordability, ease of distribution and effectiveness.

Preliminary studies have been successful, and the vaccine technology has moved forward to human clinical trials. In addition, his team is also targeting vaccine development for a host of other diseases, and to protect poultry and livestock against a broad range of bacterial marauders.

Before coming to ASU in 2004, Curtiss was the George William and Irene Keochig Freiberg professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, where he chaired the Department of Biology for ten years. His body of published work includes more than 250 reviewed articles. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

A ceremony honoring Curtiss will take place at the AZBio Awards on September 17, 2014 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The AZBio Awards ceremony celebrates Arizona’s leading educators, innovators and companies. Each year, AZBio honors bioindustry leaders from across the state of Arizona who are illustrative of the depth, breadth and expertise of our bioscience industry.

Past recipients of the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement include: David S. Alberts, M.D., Director Emeritus at the Arizona Cancer Center, Raymond L. Woosley, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman Emeritus of the Critical Path Institute, and Thomas M. Grogan, M.D., founder of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.

For registration and more information, go to www.azbio.awards.com.

Aspinall

Leadership spotlight: Mara G. Aspinall

Mara G. Aspinall
President and CEO
Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.
ventana.roche.com

Aspinall founded the European Personalized Medicine Association and advised the Obama and Bush administrations on diagnostics and genomics.

Biggest challenge: “My college and postgrad majors were in business, yet I‘ve made my career in biotech where a strong science background is an distinct advantage. So, I had to go back and develop my foundational knowledge in the sciences while working, and I continue to sharpen it throughout my career.”

Surprising fact: “People are often surprised to learn that I’m an avid sports fan.  I will attend any live sporting event – from baseball to rodeo – any chance I get.”

Mara Aspinal - 50 Most Influential Women in AZ Business

Mara Aspinal – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Mara AspinalPresident and CEO, Ventana Medical Systems

Aspinal, who holds an MBA from Harvard, joined Ventana as president and CEO in 2011. She founded the European Personalized Medicine Association and advised the Obama and Bush administrations on diagnostics and genomics.

Surprising fact: “I will attend any live sporting event – from baseball to rodeo – any chance I get.”

Biggest challenge: “My approach to my first leadership role in manufacturing was that I asked lots of questions, studied our business vs. competitors and put a strong team in place. In three years, we turned the business around and had the industry’s best profit margins. The lesson for me is not to be afraid of new challenges, take the time to learn and then trust the data alongside your gut.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

medical.research

TGen, Ventana announce research collaboration

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. (Ventana), a member of the Roche Group, today announced a collaborative research agreement to discover and develop diagnostic markers for treating cancer.

The two Arizona-based institutions will leverage each other’s expertise in discovery and diagnostic product development, bringing innovative cancer diagnostic tests to patients.

The first project under the umbrella research agreement will focus on diagnostic, prognostic and drug biomarkers for pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. This year, an estimated 45,000 people will be diagnosed and more than 38,000 patients will die from the disease. Worldwide, more than 213,000 are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, and the numbers are growing. Fewer than 1 in 4 pancreatic cancer patients survive more than a year, and fewer than 6 percent survive more than five years – the worst survival rate of any cancer.

This dismal picture of pancreatic cancer is mainly due to the lack of tools for early detection and the ineffectiveness of current therapeutics. This is why new diagnostic markers and more efficacious therapies are desperately needed.

“TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research, where investigators discover the genetic components of disease,” says Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D., President and Research Director of TGen. “Our goal is to rapidly translate basic research findings into actionable targets. Partnering with Ventana we hope will accelerate our goal to deliver meaningful discoveries to cancer patients today.”

“When a patient is faced with cancer, getting an accurate diagnosis quickly is the most important part of their treatment,” says Ventana President and CEO Mara G. Aspinall. “As the global leader in tissue-based cancer diagnostics, our strength is moving research into the clinic in order to improve the lives of all patients afflicted with cancer. We are thrilled to be able to pursue this with a partner right in our Arizona backyard.”

Arizona Commerce Authority, AZRE Magazine November/December 2011

Arizona Commerce Authority Celebrates Its 1st Anniversary

With the Arizona Commerce Authority celebrating its 1st year, jobs remain the focus as the state’s CRE industry reaps the benefits.

Arizona Commerce Authority, AZRE Magazine November/December 2011In August, Tempe-based First Solar purchased 635 acres in Pinal County for $9.8M and announced plans to build a generating station on the property.

The rapidly expanding, clean-energy company is still constructing its solar module manufacturing plant in Mesa, expected to be up and running by mid-2012 with as many as 600 new, high-paying jobs.

The company also is building generating stations in Gila Bend and Yuma. In January, Power-One opened its first North American manufacturing facility in Phoenix. The California-based company, which makes inverters to convert renewable energy to usable energy, said it will employ as many as 350 people at build-out.

At Power-One’s grand opening ceremonies, Gov. Jan Brewer credited  the Arizona Commerce Authority for the big win and for wielding CEO clout and corporate incentives in making Arizona a hot spot for solar companies looking to expand or relocate.

“I have been consistently focused on ensuring Arizona is a magnet for business relocation, capital investment and a catalyst for the creation of new business and new jobs. And, with the work of my Arizona Commerce Authority, we’re seeing tremendous results in the solar space,” Brewer said at the time.

A year after the Arizona Department of Commerce, a government agency, morphed into the Arizona Commerce Authority, a public-private partnership led by a board of directors filled with many of the state’s top business leaders, six solar companies boasting a combined 1,700 new jobs have announced plans to expand or move to Arizona, says Bennett Curry, who has been piloting the organization’s business attraction efforts since it launched.

Besides growth in the renewable energy sector, diverse companies are finding Arizona attractive. They include:

  • Amazon, which recently announced plans to add another 1.2 MSF of warehousing space and 200 jobs to its existing Arizona enterprises;
  • Able Engineering, which hopes to expand into new manufacturing facilities in Mesa, eventually more than doubling its 230-employee roster within a few years of the expansion;
  • Ventana Medical Systems, which is expanding and adding another 500 jobs in Oro Valley.

Best is yet to come

Arizona Commerce Authority, AZRE Magazine November/December 2011Arizona Commerce Authority counts new jobs, not the square footage to house them, so it’s difficult to estimate the new office, manufacturing and warehousing space represented by the business growth, Curry says.

But while Arizona Commerce Authority’s mission is to generate jobs, Arizona’s commercial real estate industry is a big beneficiary of the growth, adds Mike Haenel, executive vice president Industrial Division at Cassidy Turley/BRE Commercial.

“Job growth creates absorption, construction and new development opportunities for the state’s commercial real estate industry,” Haenel said.

Arizona Commerce Authority has assisted companies such as Amazon, First Solar, Suntech and others with expansions and relocations, he says, but possibly even more important is the organization’s impact convincing local legislators and other Arizonans about the importance of proffering tax breaks and other enticements to snag coveted business.

He credits the prestige of the corporate leaders backing the group with influencing passage of the Arizona competitiveness package. And their combined weightiness as enticing to national business leaders looking for relocation options.

“Even though the Arizona Commerce Authority has only been in existence for one year, and the fact that we are in a slow recovery cycle, the Arizona Commerce Authority has  been instrumental in educating the business community and those businesses looking to relocate that Arizona has the incentives available for quality job growth,” Haenel says. “We’re still in a tough economy and having Arizona Commerce Authority can only help the state with job attraction.”

Sundt Construction chairman Doug Pruitt, an Arizona Commerce Authority board member, says the organization has logged some early successes.“Working with Arizona Commerce Authority partners, there has been a
massive reduction in vacant space,” he says.  But Pruitt says the biggest bang-for-the-buck is still to come as the organization spent much of its first year laying groundwork.

“Arizona Commerce Authority’s active projects are up 38 percent over a year ago,” Pruitt says. “One of our short-term plans includes aggressive recruitment of California-based firms within our targeted business sectors.”And the vision doesn’t stop at the Pacific Ocean. “Not only are we working to promote the state nationwide, we are taking the message that Arizona is the best place to do business to a global audience,” he says.

DMB Associates chairman Drew Brown, also an Arizona Commerce Authority board member, says each successful recruitment breeds more business. And as the expansions and relocations pile up, a boom in the state’s commercial real estate industry will be a welcome by-product.

“I think Arizona Commerce Authority’s function of attracting high-quality export jobs will be a big shot in the arm for the local economy,” he says. “The multiplier effect will encourage other new jobs.”

As more businesses come to the state, they will fill up vacant residential and commercial real estate, generating demand for new construction and development and the new jobs associated with that. “It’s out there. It will happen,” he says.

Building lasting relationships

Arizona Commerce Authority, AZRE Magazine November/December 2011Brown, like other Arizona Commerce Authority leaders, says the organization can’t take most of the credit for attracting the impressive influx of new business during its first year.

Arizona Commerce Authority has been forging important strategic relationships with key economic development groups such as Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) to marshal joint clout, Brown says.

“We are working with the Arizona Commerce Authority on several active projects,” says Laura Shaw, TREO’s senior vice president for Marketing and Communications. “While the authority is still very new and thus getting its legs, so to speak, we have formed a close partnership and have many opportunities moving forward.”

And the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Curry says the new competitiveness package passed early this year opened a lot of doors for Arizona Commerce Authority to pitch the state’s wares.

“Before our toolbox didn’t have a lot of tools,” Curry says. “Now Arizona is ranked high among Western states.”

During a recent trade conference in San Francisco with international companies looking for a U.S. presence, the organization landed 19 meetings with interested prospects, and three are actively pursuing a possible Arizona relocation, he says.

Pruitt adds the Arizona Commerce Authority still faces hurdles — the uncertain global economy and Arizona’s somewhat tarnished reputation regarding school funding, immigration, gun laws and other issues. But he is optimistic.

“Some 300,000 of our residents have lost jobs since the recession began,” Pruitt says. “We realize that people are counting on us to do our job. The Arizona Commerce Authority takes this duty seriously and is focused on a single task — getting businesses to invest in Arizona to create jobs.”

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www.azcommerce.com
www.gpec.org
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AZRE Magazine November/December 2011