Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation funds new ARCS Scholar

 

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The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation (Ivy Foundation) is providing a scholarship for John Heffernan, an Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) scholar. Heffernan is currently pursuing a Ph.D in bioengineering at Arizona State University and plans to focus on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain cancer research.

The Ivy Foundation is the largest privately funded brain cancer research foundation in North America and has been dedicated to furthering brain cancer research since 2005.

“We are pleased to be able to help John further his studies in such a critical area,” said Catherine Ivy, founder and president of the Ivy Foundation. “With support from Ivy Foundation and ARCS, we hope John can take the steps necessary to grow in this crucial phase of his scientific career.”

The ARCS Foundation advances science and technology in the United States by providing financial awards to academically outstanding U. S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering and medical research. ARCS Scholars are selected annually by a number of qualifying departments within the ARCS Foundation’s 54 academic partner universities.

The ARCS Foundation Phoenix recently held their 41st Annual Scholar Awards Dinner at the Phoenix Country Club. The proceeds provide financial awards to outstanding graduate Ph.D. science students attending Arizona State University (ASU), Northern Arizona University (NAU) and University of Arizona (UA).

The Phoenix Chapter currently has 39 scholars and has awarded over $5,692,900 to 935 scholars at the three Arizona state universities since 1975.

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MRSA Detection Technology Developed by TGen-NAU is Granted First Patent

Test for ‘superbug’ bacterial infections created by DxNA under license from TGen-NAU

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Antibiotic-resistant infections should be easier to detect, and hospitals could become safer, thanks to a technology developed by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU), and protected under a patent issued by Australia.

Soon, similar patent approvals are expected by the U.S., Canada, European Union, Japan, Brazil and other nations for this “superbug” test developed by TGen and NAU, and licensed to DxNA LLC, a company based in St. George, Utah.

“This rapid, 1-hour test will precisely identify a family of antibiotic-resistant Staphinfections we broadly refer to as MRSA,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, or TGen North, based in Flagstaff.

“We hope this technology will be adopted worldwide by hospitals and clinics, and will help identify and isolate these dangerous and difficult-to-eliminate infections that have come to plague our medical institutions,” said Dr. Keim, who also is the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at NAU, and Director of NAU’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics (MGGen). “The result should be more rapid diagnosis, improved treatment of patients, and reduced medical costs.”

MRSA — Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — is an antibiotic-resistant form of the Staph bacteria that annually kills more Americans than HIV.

While MRSA technically refers to one particular strain of Staph, the genomics-based test developed by TGen, NAU and DxNA can precisely detect multiple types of drug-resistant Staph bacterial infections, including drug resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococcus (CSN), a much more common infection than MRSA.

Staph infections are the most common hospital-acquired or associated infections. While most of the focus over the past few years has been on MRSA, in terms of incidence and total cost, strains of Staph other than MRSA are a much more common problem.

Due to the increasing use of implantable biomaterials and medical devices, infections are increasingly caused by CNS. This is a type of Staph that is often resistant to multiple antibiotics and has a particular affinity for these devices.

“Rapid identification and differentiation of these resistant bacteria is key to optimizing treatment decisions that significantly impact patient outcomes and cost of care,” said David Taus, CEO of DxNA LLC. “Given that resistant CNS is a frequent pathogen in surgical site infections, orthopedic and cardiac device infections, and blood stream infections — among others — it is critical that we be able to rapidly identify and determine antibiotic resistance to provide for appropriate pre-surgical antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent infections and early and effective treatment when these infections do occur.”

Current molecular tests for MRSA all ignore CNS, rendering their results significantly less useful in treating patients given that drug resistant CNS infections are many times more common than MRSA.

DxNA’s Staphylococcus Test identifies and differentiates resistant and non-resistant strains of Staph and CNS. The test uses three separate proprietary biomarker targets and a proprietary methodology to determine which types of Staph are present, and which carry the gene that causes antibiotic-resistance in these bacteria.

“The test also is effective in identifying infected specimens where there are multiple types of Staph. The test will rapidly provide broader clinically-actionable results, improving antibiotic prophylaxis, early targeted intervention resulting in more effective treatment at lower costs,” Taus said.

Macy’s ‘Shop For A Cause’ Aug. 26-28 Supports Cancer Research at TGen

All proceeds from ‘Shop For A Cause’ shopping passes benefit TGen pancreatic cancer patients; shoppers receive substantial discounts

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Here is one more reason to do your back-to-school shopping at Macy’s:  “Shop For A Cause” shopping passes will provide needed research dollars for the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), benefitting pancreatic cancer patients.

This 11th annual “Shop For A Cause” at Macy’s is no longer a one-day event. This year, “Shop For A Cause” passes will be honored at Macy’s throughout the weekend of Aug. 26-28.

Now through Aug. 25, “Shop For A Cause” passes may be purchased for only $5 by visiting helptgen.org/macys or by calling 602-343-8411. Shopping passes will provide up to 25 percent off most merchandise, and provide an opportunity to win a $500 Macy’s gift card.

“More than ever, Macy’s is finding ways to help charity and non-profit organizations, such as TGen, to help those in need,” said Dr. Haiyong Han, Associate Professor of TGen’s Clinical Translational Research Division. “ ‘Shop For A Cause’ will benefit pancreatic cancer patients who desperately need our help today.”

This year, pancreatic cancer will surpass breast cancer as America’s third-leading cause of cancer-related death, with more than 53,000 newly diagnosed patients, and nearly 42,000 deaths. More than 75 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first year of diagnosis, and fewer than 10 percent survive for more than 5 years.

The pancreas is a banana-shaped organ behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes, as well as hormones such as insulin to help regulate blood sugar. Because there is no screening test, and usually no symptoms in its early stages, pancreatic cancer usually is not diagnosed until its advanced stages, when surgery often is no longer an option and treatment is more difficult.

TGen’s focus is on early detection, and groundbreaking clinical trials, which recently have shown tumor reductions of 30 percent or more in nearly 8 out of 10 advanced pancreatic cancer patients. TGen’s progress could not come at a more critical time. During the past 5 years, as the U.S. population continues to grow, the number of deaths attributed to other leading cause of cancer death — lung, colon and breast cancers — have remained steady, while the number of deaths due to pancreatic cancer have increased by nearly 11 percent.

All dollars — 100 percent — raised in the Phoenix area by “Shop For A Cause” will go toward TGen’s annual stepNout run/walk/dash program, which funds pancreatic cancer research. This year’s stepNout event is scheduled for Nov. 6 at the Scottsdale Sports Complex.

Macy’s “Shop For A Cause” is a unique shopping event dedicated to supporting local nonprofit organizations’ fundraising efforts. Since 2006, the program has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for charities throughout the nation, and more than 5,000 charities signed up to participate last year.

“At Macy’s, we believe in supporting the communities where our customers and associates live and work. That is why we are so proud of ‘Shop For A Cause,’ ” said Holly Thomas, Macy’s group vice president of cause marketing. “With this year’s extension to a weekend-long event, we’re offering even more opportunity to support local and national causes, and thanking our customers with special savings at Macy’s.”

To find a Macy’s near you, go to mcys.co/1D3ZrXl. For more information about Macy’s “Shop For A Cause,” visit macys.com/shopforacause.