Study validates TGen developed test for healthcare-acquired infections

Molecular-based KlebSeq assay could save lives and lower healthcare costs

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Sept. 2, 2016 — A new study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) details the design and validation of a low-cost, rapid and highly accurate screening tool — known as KlebSeq  — for potentially deadly healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), such as Klebsiella pneumoniae. HAIs affect hundreds of thousands of patients annually and add nearly $10 billion in associated healthcare costs.

The findings, to be published in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, detail the workings of the KlebSeq test at detecting HAIs earlier, in particular Klebsiella, which has multiple strains, such as ST258, which are increasingly resistant to treatment by antibiotics.

Unlike traditional assays that require growing a live culture in a laboratory setting, which adds days to the testing process and layers on cost, KlebSeq employs a technique called amplicon sequencing that identifies the presence of Klebsiella and stratifies its characteristics, such as strain type and whether it may be antibiotic resistant.

“KlebSeq is able to accurately and consistently identify and characterize Klebsiella from many different types of specimen samples, including blood, urine, nasal swabs, and respiratory fluids,” said Dr. Jolene Bowers, a Post-Doctoral fellow in TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, TGen North, and the paper’s first author.

In 2015, Bowers co-led a study published in PLOS One, in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which documented the rapid global spread of ST258.

According to the CDC, nearly 2 million Americans annually contract bacterial infections that are resistant to at least one antibiotic, and 23,000 die each year from such infections, nearly twice as many who die of AIDS.

“Improved testing technology holds great potential for the rapid detection of HAIs and more quickly identifying antibiotic-resistant infections, such as K. pneumoniae, which have become an urgent public health crisis,” said Bowers. “KlebSeq is a perfect example of the power of genomic-based analytical tools that deliver results faster, more accurately and at a lower cost.”

According to Dr. David Engelthaler, Director of Programs and Operations for TGen North, and one of the authors of the study, transmission of multidrug-resistant strains of K. pneumoniae is rapid and without initial symptoms, leading to outbreaks in the healthcare system and the community that often go undetected.

“Early detection of K. pneumoniae in healthcare patients, especially those with multidrug-resistant strains, is critical to infection control,” said Dr. Engelthaler, who also is a former epidemiologist for the state of Arizona. “Perhaps most concerning is that Kleb acts like a shuttle for critical resistance genes, often transmitting them to other HAI species. It is important for us to detect both the bacteria and these critical genes.”

KlebSeq can be used for routine screening and surveillance, enabling healthcare staff to make more informed patient decisions, and curb outbreak situations by rapidly identifying transmissions prior patients showing signs of infection. Classifying the type of infection in each patient would help enable an institution to decide when and which intervention procedures to enact.

Study results suggest that KlebSeq would be especially helpful for high-risk patients — those in intensive-care units, centers specializing in bone marrow transplantation or chronically immunosuppressed patients, long-term care facilities, and travelers returning from endemic regions.

“The sensitivity of KlebSeq is superior to culture-based methods,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen North and the senior author of the study.

“KlebSeq is an important step toward a comprehensive, yet accessible, tool for all pathogen identification and characterization,” said Dr. Keim, who also is the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at Northern Arizona University, and Director of NAU’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics (MGGen).

The results also suggest that KlebSeq could be easily modified to detect other healthcare-acquired infectious agents, and identify those with antimicrobial resistance. It could also be used for outbreak detection, transmission mapping and tracing the source of infections by being able to screen hundreds of patient samples simultaneously, at a cost of tens of dollars per patient.

KlebSeq: A Diagnostic Tool for Surveillance, Detection, and Monitoring of Klebsiella pneumoniae, will be published in the October 2016 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Nov. 6 stepNout 5K aims for another $1 million for TGen cancer research

11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash seeks end to pancreatic cancer, soon the nation’s 3rd leading cause of cancer death

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Aug. 25, 2016 — This year, pancreatic cancer is projected to eclipse breast cancer as the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is determined to reverse this trend in pancreatic cancer by enlisting the help of more than 1,000 participants at the 11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash for pancreatic cancer research, Nov. 6 in Scottsdale.

“We are incredibly grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who have truly accelerated the development of new treatments for pancreatic cancer,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation. “These generous runners and community leaders have brought hope and answers to pancreatic cancer patients around the world.”

Be sure to put on your running shoes for stepNout, a family-friendly morning of races, music, games, and activities — including a photo booth and face painting — all celebrating TGen’s efforts to stomp out pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen Distinguished Professor and Physician-In-Chief, said more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer are needed. Pancreatic cancer this year will take the lives of nearly 42,000 Americans, a more than 10 percent increase in the past 5 years.

“The death rate for other leading cancers have been flat in recent years because of more effective treatments,” said Dr. Von Hoff. “We are making progress in treating patients with improvement in average survival and for the first time having some very long term survivors. We need continued, dedicated funding to improve on these promising results to our studies and benefit pancreatic patients who need our help now.”

Median survival for patients with advanced disease was less than 6 months, and the 5-year survival rate was less than 10 percent. But thanks to fundraising efforts like stepNout, these statistics are improving.

Under Dr. Von Hoff’s leadership, and in collaboration with HonorHealth, TGen pioneered a major international clinical trial that led the FDA in 2013 approved the use of Abraxane in combination with gemcitabine, which now is the nation’s standard of care for this disease. Two ongoing TGen-led studies are showing even greater promise, with tumor reductions of at least 30 percent in 3 in 4 patients, and the elimination of tumors in 1 in 5 patients.

Competitive and fun races at stepNout are geared for all ages and abilities, including the event’s signature 5K run. Online registration ends Nov. 1, though participants can register at the event. This is the third year stepNout will be at the Scottsdale Sports Complex, northeast of Bell and Hayden roads.

The annual event has raised more than $1 million since it started in 2006. Nearly $135,000 was raised last year, and organizers are aiming for $150,000 this year on their way towards an overall goal of $2 million.

And you don’t have to be at stepNout to help. You can donate at www.tgenfoundation.org/step.

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If you go to stepNout:

What: TGen’s 11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash for pancreatic cancer research.
Where: Scottsdale Sports Complex, 8081 E. Princess Drive, northeast of Hayden and Bell roads, between Loop 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.
When: 7:30-11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.  Registration starts at 7:30 a.m.; a competitive 5K run begins at 9 a.m.; a fun 1-mile run/walk starts at 9:15 a.m.; a free 50-yard kids’ dash is planned for 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Registration fees range from $10 to $30, depending on age. Costs increase by $5 after Oct. 21. Children ages 5 and under are free.
Parking: Free.
More information and registration: www.tgenfoundation.org/step and click on events. Contact Andrea Daly at (602) 343-8572 or by email at adaly@tgen.org.

U.S. issues patent for Valley Fever detection technology developed by TGen and NAU

Test for dust-borne fungal infection created by TGen and NAU is licensed to DxNA 

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Aug. 2, 2016 — Valley Fever, a potentially deadly dust-borne fungal disease, should be easier to diagnose and treat thanks to a testing technology developed by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU), and now protected by a patent issued today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

TGen and NAU have exclusively licensed this technology to DxNA LLC, a company based in St. George, Utah, which plans to make this Valley Fever Test commercially available to hospitals and clinics upon completion of FDA clinical trials and a subsequent FDA 510(k) submission for review and clearance later this year.

Valley Fever is endemic to Phoenix and Tucson, but also is spreading throughout the arid regions of North and South America. It is an infection caused by the microscopic fungus Coccidioides, a pathogen that lives in desert soils and typically enters the body through the lungs. An estimated 150,000 Americans are infected annually by Valley Fever, and as many as 500 die each year.

“Currently, there is no definitive test for Valley Fever. Our new rapid, 1-hour, genetic-based test will provide physicians and patients with a precise diagnosis, enabling prompt treatment and preventing this disease from becoming more serious,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, or TGen North, based in Flagstaff.

“For the past decade, TGen has worked to develop better tools and technology to address Valley Fever, and we think it is critical to be able to apply our cutting-edge science to problems in our own backyard,” 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).

Valley Fever most commonly causes a progressive lung infection, but can also spread to other parts of the body, including the skin, bone, brain and the rest of the nervous system.

Nearly 60 percent of those infected by Valley Fever — including other vertebrates, and especially dogs — develop no significant symptoms. However, some patients develop highly debilitating symptoms, such as cough, fever and fatigue. These symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases caused by bacteria or virus, and often lead to delayed diagnoses and inappropriate treatment. Very severe Valley Fever can require lifelong treatment with antifungal drugs, and even result in death.

This new genetic-based test can precisely identify both strains of Valley Fever: Coccidioides posadasii, found in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and much of Latin America, and Coccidioides immitus, which is found in California, Washington and Baja Mexico.

Most infections occur in central and southern Arizona. Each year on average, there are an estimated 150,000 cases in Arizona, resulting in more than 1,700 hospitalizations at a cost of more than $86 million.

“These high costs are driven to a significant degree by the high level of misdiagnosis, resulting in an average time to diagnosis of 5 months from when a patient first seeks care,” said David Taus, CEO of DxNA LLC. “Our test provides definitive results in 60 minutes, dramatically improving the diagnosis of the disease over current methodologies, both in terms of time and accuracy.”

The intellectual property used in DxNA’s Valley Fever Test is exclusive to DxNA LLC, and covers both human and veterinary applications, Taus said.

‘Cycle for the Cure’ Raises a Record $248,725 for Cancer Research at TGen

Philanthropists Sherry and Richard Holson are instrumental in securing $100,000 in donations from Guarantee Trust Life

PHOENIX, Ariz. —  This year’s Cycle for the Cure already was on track to be one of the most successful in its six years of raising cancer research funds for the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

But thanks to additional donations generated by Guarantee Trust Life of Glenview, Ill., the 6th annual Cycle for the Cure garnered a record $248,725 for TGen.

The May 1 event, which featured hundreds of dedicated donors spinning on stationary cycles for up to 2 hours at several health clubs in Phoenix and Scottsdale, produced $173,725.

But Vicki Vaughn, Co-Chair of Cycle for the Cure, wasn’t finished.

After introducing her friends — Richard S. Holson III, Chairman, CEO and President of Guarantee Trust Life, and his wife, Sherry — to TGen, the Holson’s company invited TGen cancer researcher Dr. Will Hendricks and TGen Foundation Vice President Erin Massey to present at Guarantee Trust Life’s recent company conference in Arizona. The company was impressed and donated $25,000, part of the initial tally for Cycle for the Cure.

Then, after company officials toured TGen laboratories, they challenged their partners and representatives to donate to Cycle for the Cure. They raised a combined $37,500, which Guarantee Trust Life matched, dollar-for-dollar, adding another $75,000 to the $25,000 the company already donated, bringing the total generated by Guarantee Trust Life to $100,000.

“TGen should be very grateful to my wife, Sherry, and Vicki Vaughn as they were responsible for introducing my company to this amazing organization. We were impressed with, and inspired by, the remarkable people at TGen and the world-class, life-changing research being conducted,” said Richard Holson. “And the response by our agents with their contributions was great.”

Using genomic sequencing, TGen helps doctors match the appropriate therapy to each patient’s DNA profile, producing the greatest patient benefit. This year, Cycle for the Cure raised research funds for work on a revolutionary diagnostic method called “liquid biopsies” — biomarkers in circulating blood — as a means of providing patients and their doctors with early detection of disease.

“We believe everyone should know first-hand about the groundbreaking research going on at TGen, and we encourage everyone to join us in supporting the vital work TGen does,” said Vicki Vaughn, who co-chaired Cycle for the Cure with Robyn DeBell.

Village Health Clubs and Studio 360 provided the venues for this year’s Cycle for the Cure. In addition, yoga and kinesis classes were included in the fundraising events by Village Health Clubs at its DC Ranch and Camelback locations.

“We are incredibly proud to have merited the dedicated support of volunteer co-chairs Vicki Vaughn and Robyn DeBell,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff. “Their extraordinary leadership, and the generosity of business leaders like Rick Holman and the Guarantee Trust Life company, provides an incredible boost to TGen’s cancer research initiatives.”

Donations continue to be accepted at www.tgenfoundation.org/cycle. And save the date for next year’s 7th annual Cycle for the Cure: April 30, 2017.

World-renowned Sarod Maestro Plays Benefit Concert for TGen

Amjad Ali Khan’s fundraiser Sept. 3 at the Tempe Center for the Arts will help hundreds of Arizona children with rare medical disorders

TEMPE, Ariz. Sarod virtuoso Amjad Ali Khan — who has graced the most celebrated stages of the globe and shared musical billings with artists as varied as Queen Latifah and Steven Tyler — will perform a benefit concert for the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Khan and other Indian classical musicians will perform at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, to benefit TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders (C4RCD).

“Sarod for C4RCD” will feature: a solo by Khan on his lute-like stringed instrument; a duet by his son, seventh-generation sarod master Ayaan Ali Bangash, and Grammy-nominated violinist Elmira Darvarova; and a third set with all three musicians plus tabla (Indian two-piece drum) extraordinaire Anubrata Chatterjee.

“It is indeed a matter of great joy and honor for me to present my music for the music lovers of Phoenix,” said Khan. “I am so humbled to be associated with the Center for Rare Childhood Disorders at TGen.”

He was invited to perform in Phoenix at the benefit concert by Indian-born Dr. Vinodh Narayanan, Medical Director of TGen’s C4RCD, which since 2012 has harnessed the latest in genomic sequencing technology to pinpoint the genetic causes of rare medical disorders.

“This music from my beloved India reaches in and touches the soul; it is something anyone can appreciate and enjoy,” said Dr. Narayanan. “The fact that it will be performed by the world’s top artists makes this fundraising event something not to be missed. It is indeed a chance of a lifetime for all of us in Arizona. It’s an event that will benefit hundreds of children struggling to survive rare and difficult-to-treat medical conditions.”

Khan has performed at: the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Festival in Adelaide, Australia, and New Plymouth, New Zealand; Edinburgh International (Music) Festival in Scotland; World Beat Festival in Brisbane, Australia, and Taranaki, New Zealand; The BBC Proms in London; Shiraz Arts Festival in Iran; Hong Kong Arts Festival; Adelaide Music Festival; 1200 Years celebration of Frankfurt; WOMAD Festival in Rivermead, England; and the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.

He has been a regular performer at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Victoria Hall in Geneva, Chicago Symphony Center, Mozart Hall in Frankfurt, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

In 2014, Amjad Ali Khan and his sons, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, performed at the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize Concert along with a lineup that included Queen Latifah, Steven Tyler, Nuno Bettencourt and Laura Mvula.

In January, Khan performed for His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday celebration in New Delhi.

Tickets for the Sept. 3 concert are $200, $150 and $100 with all proceeds benefiting TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders. Tickets may be purchased at the Tempe Center for the Arts box office, by telephone at 480-350-2TCA (2822) or online at http://tca.ticketforce.com/SARODforC4RCD.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

For more information about these artists, please visit: www.sarod.com.

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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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.

TGen and NAU Patent for New Pandemic Flu Test is Approved

H1N1 assay benefits patients by helping doctors determine if infections are resistant to available flu treatments

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.- The federal government has awarded a patent to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) for a test that can detect — and assist in the treatment of — the H1N1 pandemic flu strain.

TGen and NAU initially developed this precise, genomics-based test during a significant global swine flu outbreak in 2009.

The newly-patented test, developed at TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division (TGen North) in Flagstaff, can not only detect influenza — as some tests do now — but also can quickly inform doctors about what strain of flu it is, and whether it is resistant to oseltamivir (sold by Roche under the brand name Tamiflu), the primary anti-viral drug on the market to treat H1N1.

As with other influenza strains, H1N1 flu can over time be expected to show signs of resistance to oseltamivir, and new treatments will be needed to respond to future pandemics.

“The problem with influenza is that it can become resistant to the antiviral drugs that are out there,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen North, a Regents Professor of Biology at NAU and one of the test’s inventors. “Because it is a virus, it easily mutates and becomes resistant.”

David Engelthaler, Director of Programs and Operations for TGen North and another of the test’s inventors, said this flu detection and susceptibility test uses a molecular technique that rapidly makes exact copies of specific components of H1N1’s genetic material.

“Many people, including physicians, don’t realize that the pandemic swine flu strain from 2009 is still the most important flu strain out there. This assay is very effective with detecting and characterizing this dominant strain in the U.S. and around the world,” said Engelthaler, the former State Epidemiologist for Arizona, and former State of Arizona Biodefense Coordinator.

The third inventor of the test is TGen North Lab Manager Elizabeth Driebe.

Previously, only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and a few select labs could look for resistance, using time-intensive technology.

“This new test puts the power in the hands of the clinician to determine if their drugs will work or not. This is really important moving forward as we discover new strains that are resistant to antivirals,” Engelthaler said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified dozens of instances in which H1N1 was resistant to Tamiflu.

At most doctors’ offices, there is no readily available test for H1N1. Such tests generally are conducted by state and federal health agencies, and usually for those patients who require hospitalization and appear at high risk because they have a suppressed immune system or they have a chronic disease.

“Our test measures minute amounts of virus and minute changes to the virus. Not only does it detect when resistance is occurring, but it also detects it at the earliest onset possible,” Engelthaler said.

This new patent — No. US 8,808,993 B2, issued Aug. 19 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — could be licensed for development of test kits or for development of a testing service.

Earlier this year, TGen-NAU celebrated its first joint patent for a genomics-based test that can identify most of the world’s fungal infections that threaten human health.

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.

About Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University has a student population of more than 25,000 with its main campus at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona.  NAU provides an outstanding undergraduate residential education strengthened by research, graduate and professional programs, and sophisticated methods of distance delivery and innovative new campuses and programs throughout the state.  NAU’s mission and goals are based on our core values, which includes placing learner needs at the center of our planning, policies, and programs; providing all qualified students with access to higher education; achieving multicultural understanding as a priority of educational and civic life; operating with fairness, honesty, and the highest ethical standards; and supporting a civil, engaging, and respectful campus climate.

Saks Fifth Avenue and Saturday Night Live Partner to Celebrate SNL’s 40th season, and the 16th Year of Key to the Cure

Cast members of Saturday Night Live, entering its 40th season this fall, are promoting the 16th year of Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Key to the Cure,” locally benefiting women’s cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

During Key to the Cure‘s Oct. 16-19 charity-shopping weekend, Saks Fifth Avenue at Biltmore Fashion Park, 2446 E. Camelback Road, will donate 2 percent of sales to support breast and ovarian cancer research at TGen.

The highpoint of the Saks Phoenix fundraising shopping spree is the signature Key to the Cure fashion show, starting at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 17, featuring gourmet food, drinks, a raffle for designer items, and an exclusive peak at the latest fashions. For more information, please visit: www.tgenfoundation.org/events, or contact Andrea Kobielski at akobielski@tgen.org or 602-343-8572.

“We are honored to be Saks’ long-term partner for Key to the Cure, and excited about the visibility and awareness that Saturday Night Live’s past and current cast members bring to women’s cancers,” said Erin Massey, Vice President of Development for Cancer Programs for the TGen Foundation. “Locally, Key to the Cure highlights TGen’s patient-focused breast and ovarian cancer research initiatives and provides our scientists funding to pursue new and innovative research.”

Current Saturday Night Live cast members (Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong and Colin Jost) and past cast members (Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer) are this year’s Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) ambassadors for Saks Fifth Avenue’s 2014 Key to the Cure campaign.

The SNL cast members will appear in national public service announcements wearing a limited-edition unisex tee created by celebrated New York designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of rag & bone. The Key to the Cure PSA will appear in major fashion and lifestyle magazines in September and October.

The shirt will retail for $35 at Saks Fifth Avenue stores and online at saks.com and saksoff5th.com. All — 100 percent — of the proceeds from each shirt sold will be donated to TGen, benefiting charitable programs dedicated to finding new detection methods, better treatments and eventual cures for women’s cancers. The tee debuts Oct. 1 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

In the past 15 years since the inception of the Saks Fifth Avenue charity-shopping weekend, the retailer has raised more than $35 million for cancer research.

In addition to the partnership for the annual Key to the Cure campaign, Saks Fifth Avenue will sell exclusive merchandise inspired by notable Saturday Night Live characters from seven New York designers. These items, curated by Saturday Night Live’s Emmy-nominated costume designer Tom Broecker, will be available in Saks Fifth Avenue’s New York flagship store and on saks.com during the Key to the Cure shopping weekend.

The merchandise includes: Mango’s shorts as interpreted by Alexander Wang, The Nerds outfit as interpreted by Alice + Olivia, a dress fit for The Californians as interpreted by Diane von Furstenberg, Spartans Cheerleading uniforms as interpreted by Elizabeth and James, hats fit for The Coneheads as interpreted by Eugenia Kim, Mary Katherine Gallagher’s school uniform as interpreted by rag & bone, and Gilly’s dress as interpreted by Suno.

About Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s pre-eminent specialty retailers, is renowned for its superlative American and international designer collections, its expertly edited assortment of handbags, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and gifts, and the first-rate fashion expertise and exemplary client service of its Associates. As part of the Hudson’s Bay Company brand portfolio, Saks operates 39 full-line stores in 22 states, five international licensed stores, 73 Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH stores and saks.com, the company’s online store. Saks Fifth Avenue is proud to be named a J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Customer Service Champion and is only one of 50 U.S. companies so named.

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.