Modern physician training fueled by $300,000 grant to TGen
Life Technologies Foundation speeds knowledge of molecular medicine
PHOENIX, Ariz. - The philanthropic arm of Life Technologies has announced $5 million in doctor-training grants, including $300,000 for the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).
The Life Technologies Foundation anticipates the grant will accelerate the education of doctors in the field of molecular medicine, enabling them to better understand the wealth of genomic laboratory discoveries and how those findings might translate into improved treatments for their patients.
TGen, a non-profit biomedical research institute, will use the Life Technologies’ funding for two fellowships in genomic and molecular medicine, focusing on the treatment of rare cancers.
The fellowships will be under the direction of Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen’s Physician-In-Chief and Chief Scientific Officer for TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare (TCRS), that provides a direct clinical research site for treating patients with rare tumors. TCRS enables molecular and genomic discoveries made by TGen and others around the world to reach the patient bedside as quickly as possible at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare.
The goal, within three years, would be to identify three molecular targets in three rare cancers, and develop therapeutic agents to hit these targets, with the hope of immediately applying the results to patient care.
“The purpose of this project is to tackle rare cancers by using all available technologies to find the specific genetic mutations - a cancer’s “Achilles’ heel” - so new treatments can be developed,’’ Dr. Von Hoff said.
Dr. Von Hoff is confident that TGen’s technology platforms, support for discovery research, therapeutic environment, and proven success in finding effective anti-cancer agents will attract a strong talent base.
Under Dr. Von Hoff’s direction, the funds will also be used for workshops for physicians interested in understanding how genomics can be used to change the course of medical treatment.
“Using rare cancers as a rallying cry, we propose to start a specialized and highly competitive ’boot camp’ that young physicians would apply to each year,” Dr. Von Hoff said.
Upon completing the course, the doctors would join TGen’s Molecular Medicine Working Group, becoming the next generation of physicians trained in multiple aspects of molecular medicine.
The work products of these boot camps would be turned into an on-line course, accessible by others. By focusing on molecular targets for rare cancers, it is anticipated that the Achilles’ Heels of more common types of cancers also will be discovered.
“This program will strike a chord with patients and their families that someone cares about what they are going through, and is actually doing something about it,’’ Dr. Von Hoff said.
Rare cancers kill 41,000 people every year in the United States and three times that number worldwide. Rare cancers include tumors like thyroid cancer, adrenal cancer, acute leukemia and gallbladder cancer, which are particularly high among Arizona’s Native American populations. Other rare cancers include brain tumors in children and cervical cancer among women.
Patients with rare cancers often find it difficult to find proper medical care because so few scientists are working on advances for rare cancers. TGen, however, specializes in several forms of rare cancers because they frequently have specific genetic mutations or translocations that make them vulnerable to new therapies. Examples are mutations in chronic myelogenous leukemia, in basal cell carcinoma and childhood medulloblastoma.
Gregory Lucier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Life Technologies, stressed the need for advancing physician training.
“The pace of innovation is rapid, and the need for solutions that affect human health requires ever greater velocity,” Lucier said. “We are committed to taking the steps necessary, from the introduction of new products to greater financial investments and educational initiatives, to enable the translation of sequencing solutions from the research lab to the clinic.”
About Life Technologies
Life Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ:LIFE) is a global biotechnology tools company dedicated to improving the human condition. Our systems, consumables and services enable researchers to accelerate scientific exploration, driving to discoveries and developments that make life even better. Life Technologies customers do their work across the biological spectrum, working to advance personalized medicine, regenerative science, molecular diagnostics, agricultural and environmental research, and 21st century forensics. Life Technologies had sales of more than $3 billion in 2008, employs approximately 9,500 people, has a presence in more than 100 countries, and possesses a rapidly growing intellectual property estate of approximately 3,600 patents and exclusive licenses. Life Technologies was created by the combination of Invitrogen Corporation and Applied Biosystems Inc., and manufactures both in-vitro diagnostic products and research use only-labeled products. For more information on how we are making a difference, please visit our website: http://www.lifetech.com. Follow Life Technologies on Twitter @LIFECorporation and on Facebook.
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.
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