Translational Genomics Research Institute
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization focused on developing earlier diagnostics and smarter treatments.
Translational genomics research is a relatively new field employing innovative advances arising from the Human Genome Project and applying them to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases.
For the first time in history, they now have the knowledge to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. The increased understanding of molecular medicine is shifting clinical practice from treatment based on symptoms to treatment based on the underlying causes of disease. Physicians will be prescribing drugs that are designed more intelligently, work more effectively, and have fewer toxic side effects.
The mapping of the human genome was only the first step. Researchers are now working to translate variations in human genes to discover the underlying cause of disease progression and resistance to therapy and why some individuals encounter debilitating diseases and others live healthy lives. Although all the puzzle pieces of their genetic make-up have been identified, scientists and clinicians now have the formidable task of interpreting how they fit together in order to apply the genome map to patient care.
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's vision is of a world where an understanding of genomic variation can be rapidly translated to the diagnosis and treatment of disease in a manner tailored to individual patients.
TGen is dedicated to the next revolution in health care. With the patient at its helm, TGen is guided by three core principles: integrate, translate and accelerate.
Discovering the differences and changes within the genome that translate into disease is a priority for TGen. To accomplish its mission, TGen successfully recruited cross-functional teams, including world-renowned engineers, geneticists, clinicians, biologists, and computational experts. TGen's scientists have an intense desire to move their research into the clinical setting, and TGen has given them the opportunity to impact disease in a manner that had not been available to them before. As a result, TGen's combined excellence in genomic analysis, bioinformatics, and cancer drug development is unmatched throughout the industry.
To further genomic-based disease research, TGen also has established novel research programs. By implementing specific population studies, significant genomic findings can be expedited that will positively impact individuals with diabetes, autism, prostate and breast cancer, melanoma, and gastric cancer, to name a few. TGen's research divisions are disease focused and supported by a strong base of core technology platforms that allows research to be done on a large scale and short timeframe. As such, results are high-volume and quickly generated.
At the core of TGen's translational research strategy is the development of "accelerators" to quickly move research discoveries into the clinic to benefit patients. While many other research institutes recognize the importance of such translational vehicles, TGen stands alone in making this the cornerstone of its strategy. TGen has established accelerators as vehicles to develop therapeutics, prognostics and diagnostics and to deliver research discoveries to patients as quickly as possible. Not only do these accelerators provide immediate benefits to patients, but the knowledge gained from these services continues to inform TGen's research and promote patient health. Progress in genomics moves incrementally, but the potential for accelerated success is much higher at TGen because they have built one of the strongest translational development teams in the world.
A hallmark of TGen is their belief in the strength and importance of collaborative partnerships. TGen has partnered with academia, government agencies, clinical, and corporate entities in Arizona and across the globe. Such relationships provide TGen unmatched access to expertise and technology to accelerate its research goals. Through collaborative efforts with clinical partners, links to the patient are established and benefits of TGen can be delivered to the bedside. Only by combining the experience of clinicians with the direct discoveries of the research scientists will the maximum benefit to the patient be achieved. The fusion of modern medicine with the power of translational research fuels the next wave of treatments for disease.
TGen is a non-profit research institute that relies on state and federal funding and the generous backing of businesses, foundations, and concerned individuals. All contributions assist in their research efforts, whether through the acquisition of needed equipment, access to essential clinical resources, or support and expansion of the research team.
They are eager to hear from anyone who is interested in how the revolutionary power of genomics can help in fighting disease. TGen's research program combined with scientific and clinical expertise is ready to move genomic discoveries to the clinic for the benefit and care of all.
On February 7, 2002 an assembly of more than fifty leaders and visionaries in science, medicine, government and business gathered at the Arizona state capitol to discuss the possibility of establishing Arizona as a player in the new economy of the biotechnology industry. Their goal was to set up a one-of-a-kind genomics research institute.
With a positive group consensus, it was decided the idea was not only feasible, but represented a unique opportunity for Arizonans to rally together for a shared vision into the future. With an unprecedented cooperative spirit, they rallied to the task of securing support for TGen on the order of $90 million; this fundraising was achieved in a five month window. Less than a year after the initial gathering in the Governor's office, TGen was operational, and Arizona's place in genomics history became a reality.
The concept for TGen originated with Dr. Jeffrey Trent, an internationally recognized scientist, who envisioned an institute where many of the world's leading scientists would turn breakthroughs in genetic research into medical advances benefiting patients and their families.
Trent knew Arizona, having grown up in Phoenix, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He believed TGen would be good for Arizona's economy, bringing collaborative partnering in the state and the accompanying knowledge-based businesses that co-locate with major research institutions. When he began sharing his vision with leadership from the state's universities and colleges, the word soon spread - all the way to the Governor's office. It wasn't long after that Governor Jane Dee Hull appointed the Arizona BioInitiative Task Force, whose goal was to turn Arizona into a leader in the bioscience economy.
The task force had a formidable goal: Raise enough money to attract both the headquarters of the International Genomics Consortium (IGC) and establish a companion research institute, TGen. The two institutes were designed to be complementary entities. IGC is focused on applying genomic analysis to human tumor samples, publishing a publicly-accessible database that profiles the genetic changes and allows other entities to discern new targets for prevention and therapeutic strategies against cancer. TGen's focus is on assembling its own genomics research platforms in order to translate genetic information of diseases into new diagnostic tests and innovative therapies to battle cancer and other life-threatening and debilitating diseases.
The task force went to work, and its ardent commitment generated remarkable results. Key contributors came aboard. The universities and colleges pledged resources and faculty support; the Flinn Foundation pledged $10 million; the Virginia G. Piper Trust contributed $5 million. The City of Phoenix promised to donate land and construct the research facilities.
Health care providers, including Banner Health Systems, local corporations and private individuals contributed as well.
By April 2002, the task force had raised $80 million. A delegation of state leaders visited the National Institutes of Healthto learn first-hand the benefits of genomic research. Governor Hull, Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza, House Speaker Jim Weiers, Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley and academic, business and scientific leaders spent the weekend touring the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
Back in Arizona, the pieces continued to fall into place. Early in May 2002, Governor Hull signed SB 1270 for $5 million over 10 years for genomic research. Later in the month, the Governor signed a second bill providing $25 million over five years, for a total state commitment of $30 million.The good news continued on May 14, 2002 when the IGC picked Phoenix for its headquarters. The final piece to the economic puzzle fell into place on June 8, 2002, when the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community pledged $5 million. Their participation in the effort drew appreciation from across the state and across the nation.
The task force had accomplished what some thought impossible: raise $90 million to establish TGen in Arizona.
The New Face of Genomics
In June 2002, TGen was officially launched. Arizona Public Service provided interim office space to TGen for administrative offices in the Arizona Center. Banner Health System, in partnership with Quest Diagnostics, donated temporary lab space in their Tempe facility. IGC acquired lab space in the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare.
During that time, the City of Phoenix began moving forward with its development of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a 15-acre research and education project located in downtown Phoenix, which would house TGen, IGC and other bioscience entities.
Nearly 18 months after breaking ground in downtown Phoenix, TGen and IGC, in late December 2004, moved into their new state-of-the-art headquarters. Officials from TGen, IGC and the City of Phoenix joined with Senator Jon Kyl, Governor Janet Napolitano, Mayor Phil Gordon, and more than 500 guests to celebrate the building dedication and ribbon cutting in March 2005. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, delivered the keynote address.
The 173,000 square foot City of Phoenix-owned building is as cutting edge as the research conducted within its green glass walls. The building's concrete frame structure provides day lighting to all laboratory and office areas, and employs numerous energy efficiency strategies including a variable air volume air distribution system, energy recovery from laboratory exhaust, variable speed pumps, high efficiency boilers, electronic sensors on faucets, indirect lighting, as well as reduced energy use from utilizing central district cooling from the City of Phoenix.
The six-story, $46 million building forms the cornerstone of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus (PBC), a bioscience and medical research campus under development in downtown Phoenix. The biomedical campus is an integral piece of the statewide bioscience initiative and is expected to have a significant impact on biomedical discoveries, the quality of health care for Arizona's residents and the expansion and diversification of the state's economy. The campus provides a unique, energetic environment that will attract biotech and related companies to Phoenix and Arizona, from around the nation and world, for business opportunities in R&D, collaboration, partnering and office expansion.