Blog Archives

New contract ensures future state funding of downtown Phoenix’s TGen

[Source: Ken Alltucker, Arizona Republic] — After months of review, the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission last week signed off on a new contract that ensures continued funding of [the downtown] Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute.  The commission sought the new contract with TGen to protect Arizona’s interests in the wake of TGen’s alliance with Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Van Andel Institute.  Under the alliance, both TGen and Van Andel retain their locations, research staffs, and boards of directors.

TGen filed amended corporate documents last month with the Arizona Corporation Commission that reflect the change.  TGen is now a member-based organization instead of director-based organization, and Van Andel’s research arm, the Van Andel Research Institute, is the sole member of TGen.  TGen representatives said the new structure gives Van Andel shared control of TGen.  TGen receives undisclosed funding from Van Andel.

TGen President and Research Director Jeffrey Trent also holds the same position with the Van Andel Research Institute.  He splits his time between the two sites.  “It was of concern to all parties that the economic engine that TGen has been should continue in Arizona,” said Dawn Schroeder, executive director of the commission.  “It is a substitute contract, which puts in place safeguards for the state of Arizona.”  [Note: To read the full article, visit New contract ensures future state funding of downtown Phoenix’s TGen.]

Federal grants to fund major downtown Phoenix cancer study, other projects

[Source: Ken Alltucker, Arizona Republic] — A downtown Phoenix laboratory will claim a share of $275 million in federal research grants that will drive a massive study of the genetic roots of cancer.  The International Genomics Consortium, at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, said the cancer-research project called the Cancer Genome Atlas will allow the biomedical research lab to more than triple its workforce of 45 employees.

Lab managers still do not know how much money they will get, but the scope of the project could require IGC to add more than 100 high-paying jobs such as scientists and lab technicians to downtown Phoenix.  “It’s a remarkable award for Arizona,” said Robert Penny, IGC’s chief operating officer.  “This is a big honor for us to be part of this bold initiative.”

Although the Atlas project could be the largest new science project for Arizona, research labs across the state will be buzzing with activity due to a new batch of federal stimulus grants.  Arizona scientists secured 101 research grants that are collectively worth more than $33 million, a Republic analysis of National Institutes of Health records shows.  The grants are part of a $5 billion infusion of stimulus funds announced last week by President Barack Obama.  [Note: Read the full article at Federal grants to fund major downtown Phoenix cancer study, other projects.]

Economic benefits of downtown Phoenix’s TGen more than doubled in 2 years

[Source: Betty Beard, Arizona Republic] — A new study shows that TGen, the downtown Phoenix-based bioscience research group, last year produced about $8 for every $1 invested by the state — more than twice its economic benefits of two years earlier.  The study by the Tripp Umbach company in Pittsburgh estimates that the 2008 economic benefit reached $77.4 million, compared with $21.7 million in 2006.  TGen’s economic benefits have grown because it has almost 300 employees, its research has helped create or incubate seven companies to commercialize technology, it contracts with outside businesses such as software developers, and the bulk of its $65 million annual budget comes from federal and corporate grants.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute, as it is officially known, commissioned the 2006 and 2008 studies to show that the state and public investments that created TGen in 2002 have more than paid for themselves and continue to produce results, said Jeffrey Trent, TGen president and research director.  Arizona pays about $5.5 million a year into TGen, using tobacco funds earmarked for health research.  Phoenix contributed the building, and the group receives substantial donations, such as $685,000 awarded by Safeway earlier this year for breast-cancer research.

Even though TGen continues to attract multimillion-dollar contracts and grants, Trent said he hopes the group can continue to receive money from the state earmarked for medical research.  It expects to continue receiving the $5.5 million a year through 2012.  “We are focusing on leveraging state dollars vs. replacing state dollars,” Trent said.  “Bioscience was never intended to be the sole component that would change the economy in Arizona.  But I think it is an important knowledge-based pillar that the state has invested in, and I think if it continues to invest, it is likely to have an economic impact.”

The Tripp Umbach report released Tuesday said that TGen operations in 2008 produced $8.09 for every $1 invested by the state, 461 direct and indirect full-time jobs, $2.7 million in state taxes and a direct annual economic benefit of $44.5 million.  Adding the business spin-offs and commercialization, TGen produced about $14.07 for every $1 in state investment, $5.7 million in taxes and $77.4 million in total annual economic impact. [Note: Read the full article at Economic benefits of downtown Phoenix’s TGen more than doubled in 2 years.]

Downtown Phoenix medical school growth in limbo

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — University officials are putting the final touches on plans to build a $164 million building that will expand downtown Phoenix’s medical school and high-profile biomedical campus.  But the project is stuck in political limbo and it’s unclear if construction crews will break ground in February, as planned.  “It will be difficult until we get moving through the Legislature,” said Jaime Molera, a University of Arizona lobbyist.

On Thursday, the Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved plans for the Health Sciences Education Building, a 265,000-square-foot facility that will house lecture halls, an anatomy lab, a simulation center, and a library that will be used by the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.  The building will be located on the 28-acre Phoenix Biomedical Campus that’s taking shape downtown.  The hub includes the medical school, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and ABC1 — a medical-research building used by ASU and UA.  Down the road, supporters would like to build a hospital and more research buildings.

The campus is part of Arizona’s longtime quest to grow the state’s bioscience industry.  Phoenix owns the land and the campus is part of city plans to redevelop downtown.  The Health Sciences Education Building is also a key part of plans to expand the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University, which opened in 2007.

Without the new building, the downtown medical school can’t grow much bigger, said Judy Bernas, an associate vice president at the University of Arizona.  Right now, it has 120 students and could have a maximum of 192.  But the original plan calls for a school that would eventually have 480 students.  The school won’t have enough room for that many students until the Health Sciences Building is complete, UA officials say.

Funding for the project has been approved by the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer through the state budget process. The building would be paid for by bonds that would be paid off with lottery revenue.  But a handful of powerful Republican lawmakers are using a bureaucratic procedure to put the brakes on the project.  [Note: Read the full article at Downtown Phoenix medical school growth in limbo.]

UA seeks new downtown Phoenix partner as St. Joe’s links with Creighton

[Source: Angela Gonzales, Phoenix Business Journal] — The University of Arizona is canceling talks with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to jointly develop a cancer center in downtown Phoenix now that St. Joe’s has forged a solid academic affiliation with Creighton University School of Medicine.  Dr. William Crist, UA’s vice president for health affairs, said he is concerned there won’t be enough room for UA medical students because St. Joe’s agreed to make Creighton’s 84 medical students a priority.  “We’re not mad,” he said.  “We’re still friends.  But there can only be one primary affiliate partner.”

Suzanne Pfister, vice president of external affairs for St. Joe’s, said she’s disappointed.  “But we’ve still got a number of collaborations with them,” she said, adding that St. Joe’s will continue to grow its cancer program.

Crist said UA has solid partnerships with the majority of the Valley’s hospitals, including Banner Health, Carl T. Hayden Medical Center, Maricopa Integrated Health System, Mayo Hospital, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Scottsdale Healthcare.  His job will be to see which of those facilities will be willing to partner with UA to help finance the expansion of its cancer center in Phoenix.  “Plenty of people are interested,” Crist said.  “We are talking to a lot of people to get the best plan.”

He said the cancer center most likely would be built near the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which houses the medical school and the Translational Genomics Research Institute.  He envisions an outpatient center that would be anywhere from 200,000 square feet to 250,000 square feet, offering medical oncology, laboratory testing, imaging and radiation therapy.  “We have relationships with almost every health system in town in terms of rotating medical students,” Crist said.  “The only question is who has the capacity to be a primary affiliate partner when we expand and develop more than ever before.”  [Note: Read the full article at UA seeks new downtown Phoenix partner as St. Joe’s links with Creighton.]

Light-speed computer connection between downtown Phoenix and Tempe will slash genetic data transfer time

[Source: Science Daily] — Hot on the heels of a new supercomputer, plans for a new light-speed data line between the Translational Genomics Research Institute and Arizona State University could slash the time is takes to transfer genetic information.  Accelerating the flow of information could help speed discoveries that eventually could help produce treatments and cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, autism, diabetes, and various cancers.

Because of the huge amounts of data generated by TGen’s experiments, it now take as long as 12 days using conventional cables to transmit 7 terabytes of information from a typical experiment 10 miles between TGen’s downtown Phoenix labs and ASU’s new Saguaro 2 supercomputer in Tempe.  But through a partnership between ASU and Obsidian Strategics Inc., an Edmonton, Alberta-based defense-intelligence contractor, the same voluminous data — the equivalent of 3.5 million iPod songs — soon could be transmitted in as short as 1 hour.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Developer floats cancer center in suburbs, not downtown Phoenix

[Source: Jahna Berry and Edythe Jensen, Arizona Republic] — An influential developer wants the University of Arizona to consider putting a sought-after cancer center in a suburb, not downtown Phoenix.  Officials from UA, which would oversee the future cancer center, have downplayed the developer’s queries in Chandler and Surprise.  Patients need a center in a sprawling, resort-like setting, and Phoenix doesn’t have enough room for that, said the developer, Tom Hornaday.   But Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon isn’t taking any chances and wants UA to reaffirm its commitment to build the center in his city.  Gordon has reasons to be worried:

  • Last year, Phoenix lost to Goodyear on a $70 million cancer center that was to be built near Loop 101 and Thomas Road.  This year, talks collapsed for a Banner teaching hospital on UA’s fledgling downtown Phoenix medical-school campus.
  • Chandler and Surprise are jockeying to be players in the state’s bioscience scene.
  • There are new Valley political players, and leaders at UA, who were not part of the early planning for Phoenix’s 28-acre biomedical hub.

Eventually the area, bounded by Garfield, Monroe, Fifth and Seventh streets, would share a hospital, researchers, and the three state universities.  Already, UA’s medical school and Translational Genomics Research Institute and a unit from the ASU engineering college have taken root there.  State lawmakers recently approved $470 million for future campus construction.

Gordon wants UA to reaffirm its four-year-old commitment to put a branch of the Arizona Cancer Center in Phoenix.  “While outsiders are trying to put together a speculative real-estate deal, it risks slowing down and diverting the attention necessary to continue the momentum to build the biomedical campus,” Gordon said, noting the state Legislature and other groups have committed more than $1 billion to the downtown project.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Locally owned businesses add authenticity says 2004 DV report

Scroll your mouse over each photograph for commentary from the Downtown Voices: Creating a Sustainable Downtown report of August 2004. 

In the chapter on Locally Owned Business, the report states: “The city of Phoenix is facing an unprecedented surge in growth, and city leaders are working hard to make a livable downtown that will sustain the addition of 15,000 new ASU students plus 1,800 faculty and staff, the employees of the Translational Genomics Research Institute, and massive additions to housing and retail space.  In Phoenix, we still have the opportunity to keep our downtown unique and thriving, a combination vital to our quality of life and sense of place.  Many people across the country are feeling a sense of loss in their communities due to the homogenization of their downtown corridors.  The disappearance of local businesses is palpable and real.  It is time to consider the real loss a community experiences when it loses its local business base, and choose instead to invest in our local economy, cultivate consumer choice, encourage cultural diversity, and ensure that our hometown maintains its own unique character.

From Barnstable, Mass., to Austin, Texas, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Fullerton, California, communities are becoming politically active and rejecting the hollow promises the chain stores offer.  Local business is a critical part of the social fabric of any community and helps to build tradition, pride and commitment.  We can move towards becoming another bland, commercialized, and divided town where gated communities, private security services, and chain stores are prominent features.  Or we can remain unique, beautiful, and open to new cultural expressions through the encouragement and development of our local business community.”

UA solicits plans for downtown Phoenix hospital

[Source: Ken Alltucker, Arizona Republic] — The University of Arizona has contacted nearly every major hospital in the Phoenix area with one major request: Send us your ideas for a new downtown teaching hospital.  The call for ideas comes after talks between UA and Banner Health failed to a yield a deal to build a new teaching hospital that would anchor Phoenix’s emerging biomedical campus.  Arizona leaders envision a downtown hospital that trains doctors, advances medical technology, and provides a setting for cutting-edge medical techniques that spin out of such nearby research institutions as TGen.

UA has solicited proposals from Maricopa Integrated Health System, Catholic Healthcare West, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Banner Health, Sun Health, Mayo Clinic, and other hospital groups.  The university also plans to ask out-of-state hospitals to submit ideas, but no paperwork has been forwarded to non-Arizona hospitals.  UA will begin reviewing proposals March 1.  The process amounts to a brainstorming session.  UA and the Arizona Board of Regents want new, fresh ideas in an era when academic hospitals are difficult to build because of limited federal and state funds for such a project. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]