Ivy Foundation Expands Internship Program at TGen

Big News!

             We have expanded our Ivy Neurological Science Internship Program through the Translational Geonomics Research Institute (TGen). This opportunity is known as the premier neuro-related biomedical internship in the state as it offers hands-on biomedical research experience for high school, undergraduate and medical school students. TGen investigators mentor interns interested in the fields of brain tumor research, neuroscience and neurogenomics. They educate the interns about the translational process of moving laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients in clinical trials. “The Ivy Neurological Science Internship Program at TGen has the capacity to inspire a new generation of scientists with the skills needed to pursue the complexities of studying the human brain,” said our president, Catherine Ivy. “As advancements are made in this field, it is ever more important to help guide the next generation of talented individuals who can elevate the research to new levels of discovery – ultimately, the discovery of cures for cancers and neurological disease.”

            Beginning this summer, high-school students will participate in a ten-week program and undergraduates will be able to intern for a full academic year. Additionally, medical students, who are deferring a year of school for research training, will work full-time at TGen. Before now, undergraduates could only intern for one semester and medical students only worked part-time. Our contribution extends the mentoring time available to students in order for them to further develop their bioscience skills under the guidance of the world-class scientific investigators at TGen. “The changes to this year’s Ivy program greatly enhance our efforts to provide hands-on experience for students in the fundamentals of translational research,” said TGen President Dr. Jeffrey Trent. “Through Catherine’s vision and support we are developing a local, highly skilled workforce that will continue to push the boundaries of biomedical research.”

          In addition to brain tumor and neurological sciences laboratory research, Ivy interns gain experience through exposure to clinic life through training, seminars and clinical site tours. The clinical training module will engage them with the ultimate focus of TGen’s investigations — the patients. “Today’s students must be prepared for the rigors of some of the world’s most complex studies in the areas of brain tumor research and neurological sciences,” said Brandy Wells, Manager of TGen’s Education and Outreach program. “The Ivy program provides students with a great preview of what their careers in biomedical research will encompass.”

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

catherine-ivy-with-tgen-scientists-final

About The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., was formed in 2005, when Ben Ivy lost his battle with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).  Since then, the Foundation has contributed more than $50 million to research in gliomas within the United States and Canada, with the goal of better diagnostics and treatments that offer long-term survival and a high quality of life for patients with brain tumors.  The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation is the largest privately funded foundation of its kind in the United States.  For more information, visit www.ivyfoundation.org.  Connect with The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IvyFoundation and on Twitter @IvyFoundation.

About TGen

Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit).  TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.

Who Was Ben Ivy?

Benjamin (Ben) Franklin Ivy III graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from Cornell University and received his MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He was President of Ivy Financial Enterprises, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisory firm in Palo Alto, California. Ben was a Certified Financial Planner and a Registered Principal of Associated Securities Corp. who specialized in investment real estate. He was a pioneer in the concept of comprehensive financial and estate planning through a very successful series of lectures and workshops.

Ben possessed great intellect and had the ability to communicate his thoughts and ideas to his clients. He was listed annually in “Who’s Who in America” for over 20 years. In November of 2005, Ben lost his battle with brain cancer. He had survived only four months after diagnosis. Ben set a true example of living life to the fullest. He is missed and continues to set an example for those who were fortunate enough to have known him. The Ivy Foundation was created by Ben and his wife, Catherine, in order to support medical research.

Learn more about the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation here.

In Catherine’s Words

Ben and Catherine

“Ben loved the art of deal-making and one of his greatest strengths was turning challenges into opportunities. He was not afraid of risk, which is why we will not only fund science of merit but “riskier” science.”

-Catherine Ivy

Ivy Foundation Funds Diabetes Program

http://frontdoorsnews.com

Ivy Foundation Funds Diabetes Intervention

Posted By  on July 22, 2013

Catherine Ivy and St Vincent de PaulThe Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation (Ivy Foundation) announced its funding of the Family Wellness Program managed by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix. 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.

The Family Wellness Program is a culturally responsive diabetes intervention program which provides education, lifestyle improvement skills, medical, and counseling services to adults, children, and their families who have been diagnosed with diabetes and pre-diabetes and its associated comorbidities (two or more medical conditions present simultaneously in a patient). The overall goal is to empower these families with the knowledge, tools and skills to make health a priority throughout their lives.

Specific program objectives include:

  • Affecting lifestyle choices in food, fitness, and self-efficacy that enhance and establish ongoing positive health behaviors;
  • Increasing knowledge and skills in recognizing, managing and improving risk factors, disease, and quality of life throughout the life span;
  • Measuring health changes through objective and subjective instruments.
  • Evaluating effectiveness of and fine-tuning the model using community- based participatory research;
  • Responding to the increasing need for intervention by developing competent professionals who can replicate the model throughout the community.

“While we typically only fund brain cancer research programs, we knew the impact of this program was so strong and the need so great in our local community that we chose to support it,” said Ivy. “We also learn from the research of other diseases and this gives us a fresh perspective.”

“There is proven success with this program. The majority of participants have demonstrated significant improvements in their health as seen in laboratory markers. Patients are healthier. They come back as alumni to attend classes in order to receive continued social support for their lifestyle changes from program staff, volunteers and fellow participants,” said Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix, Executive Director Steve Zabilski. “We are grateful to the Ivy Foundation for their support of this high-impact program.”

http://frontdoorsnews.com/2013/07/ivy-foundation-funds-diabetes-intervention/

Ivy Foundation in Oncology Times

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation has awarded the following individuals grants and funding for brain cancer research in 2012:

  • Greg D. Foltz, MD, Director of the Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Medical Center, $2.5 million over three years;
  • John Carpten, PhD, and David Craig, PhD, both of the Translational Genomics Research Institute for a collaborative effort with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, UCLA, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and University of Utah, $5 million over five years; and
  • Brandy Wells, Manager of Science Education and Outreach at the Translational Genomics Research Institute, has received $45,000 annually for the Ivy Neurological Sciences Internship Program.

For more information: http://journals.lww.com/oncology-times/Fulltext/2013/06250/SHOP_TALK__Appointments,_Promotions,_Honors,.18.aspx

A Promising New Cancer Drug

Promising New Cancer Drugs Empower the Body’s Own Defense System

“If you look five years out, most of this meeting will be about immunotherapy,” said Dr. Mario Sznol.
SCOTT MORGAN / ASCO
By ANDREW POLLACK
June 3, 2013

CHICAGO — The early success of a new class of cancer drugs, revealed in test results released here over the last several days, has raised hope among the world’s top cancer specialists that they may be on the verge of an important milestone in the fight against the disease.

The excitement has spread to Wall Street. Shares of Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which are developing such drugs, rose more than 3 percent on Monday after data from their studies was presented over the weekend at the meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The drugs, still generally in early testing, work in an entirely new way, by unleashing the immune system to attack cancer cells much as it attacks bacteria. That could be an alternative to often-debilitating chemotherapy.

Finding ways to use the body’s own defenses has been a goal since the late 1800s, when a New York surgeon named William B. Coley noticed that cancer disappeared in a patient who had a severe bacterial infection.

He then began injecting bacteria into cancer patients to rev up their immune systems. His claims of success were disputed and most attempts since then to harness the immune system have not worked.

The new drugs work by disabling a brake on the immune system called the programmed death 1 receptor, or PD-1. And although the data presented at the meeting was from the earliest stage of testing only, the drugs were the center of attention here, with some doctors predicting that cancer treatment was about to shift.

“If you look five years out, most of this meeting will be about immunotherapy,” said Dr. Mario Sznol, a professor of medical oncology at Yale.

Analysts, who predict billions of dollars in sales, are trying to determine which of the three front-runners — Merck, Bristol-Myers and Roche — have the best drug and how soon the drugs could reach the market. Some think it could be as early as a year and a half from now.

“I think all of you recognize this is a very special moment in oncology,” Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, head of research and development at Merck, told analysts Sunday at a standing-room-only meeting.

Harnessing the immune system is appealing for several reasons. It might be applicable to many different types of cancer. It might produce longer lasting remissions than can be achieved by chemotherapy or the newer targeted drugs. And it seems somehow more natural and holistic.

“It seems the right thing to do to stimulate our body’s defense rather than take some kind of poison,” said Therese Bocklage, a cancer patient and pathologist from Albuquerque.

Dr. Bocklage thought she had bruised her leg moving a Christmas tree in late 2011. It turned out to be the return of the melanoma she thought had been successfully eradicated by surgery 20 years earlier.

She has been taking Merck’s experimental PD-1 inhibitor, lambrolizumab, as part of a clinical trial since January 2012, and her tumors have disappeared. “If I had had this turn up not last year but six years ago, most likely I’d be dead,” she said.

But there are reasons to be cautious. This is cancer, after all. Many other hoped-for miracles have failed to materialize. This is a conference that has hailed drugs that extend lives by only a few weeks as breakthroughs.

“We’re so used to failure, we get excited very easily,” said Dr. Kim Margolin, an expert on melanoma and immune therapies at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Most of what is known about the PD-1 drugs is that they shrink tumors significantly in 15 to 50 percent of patients. It is still not clearly established, though there are some hints, that the drugs will let people live longer.

And results seen in trials, under idealized conditions, do not translate perfectly to the real world. One poster presented here looked at use in Britain of Yervoy, a melanoma drug approved in 2011 that disables a different immune system brake. Median survival has been only about half of what was seen in clinical trials.

Moreover, just because the immune system is involved does not make something safe. Ask anyone with lupus, multiple sclerosis or other diseases caused by an aberrant immune system.

Yervoy, made by Bristol-Myers, has some serious side effects caused by overstimulation of the immune system. The newer PD-1 drugs seem remarkably well tolerated so far, though lung inflammation is seen in some patients.

For the last decade or so, the emphasis in oncology has been so-called targeted therapy, in which drugs counteract particular genetic mutations that drive tumor growth. These were supposed to displace conventional chemotherapy, which tends to poison fast-growing cells, both cancerous and healthy ones, causing serious side effects.

Targeted therapy has had some great successes, particularly the leukemia drug Gleevec. But cancer cells, which tend to mutate rapidly, can develop resistance to the targeted therapies. And it is becoming more difficult to develop drugs for each narrow population of patients with a particular tumor mutation.

The PD-1 drugs are in a sense a return to a one-size-fits-all approach. And it might be harder for the tumor to become resistant to the immune system, which can adapt, than to a single drug.

In fact, what most excited researchers here this weekend was “the tail.” When researchers plot on a graph how many patients remain alive over time, the curves tend to drop to near zero for metastatic cancer. A successful drug slows the rate of decline, but eventually almost all patients die from the cancer.

But with Yervoy and, experts hope, with the PD-1 drugs, there appears to be fraction of patients who do not die of the disease, at least for a long time. The curve levels out in a plateau.

Dr. Sznol said that of five patients treated at Yale with the Bristol-Myers PD-1 blocker, nivolumab, two had no evidence of recurrence even two years after stopping the drug.

Over all, 133 melanoma patients at various clinics took nivolumab in the Phase 1 trial. Median survival was 16.8 months, with 62 percent of patients alive at one year and 43 percent alive after two years. There was no comparison group in the study, but with the existing melanoma drugs, about 24 to 33 percent of patients are alive after two years, Dr. Sznol said.

So if the immune system is so effective, why doesn’t it cure cancer on its own? One reason is that cancerous cells are the body’s own cells, though mutated, and might not be recognized by the immune system as foreign. Another is that the tumors act to suppress the immune system.

Much of the previous attempts at cancer immunotherapy have focused on the first problem — trying to train the immune system to recognize the tumor and attack it.

The PD-1 drugs tackle the second problem of immune system suppression. How many cancers this will work for is still unclear. Much of the early work has been in melanoma, which is known to be more susceptible than many other tumors to immune system attack. There are cases, though rare, in which the immune system vanquishes melanoma on its own.

What is encouraging doctors is that the drugs can shrink some lung cancer tumors, which have not been considered particularly susceptible to immune attack. There are sporadic reports of cases with other cancers as well, like colorectal cancer.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/06/04/health/promising-new-cancer-drugs-empower-the-bodys-own-defense-system.html