[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.]
[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.]
[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.]
[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.]
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.]
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.”