Articles by Matt Ellsworth

Sort by
Feb 07, 2012

Support grows for medical-device community

[From Robert Green]

Arizona’s medical device industry is a lynchpin of the bioscience community. Medical device employment constitutes 32% of Arizona’s non-hospital bioscience employment. (drugs and pharmaceuticals are only 8%). With first-class research institutions and an industry spanning from one-person shops to industry giants, Arizona has it all.

To support this critically important sector of Arizona’s economy the City of Peoria, BioAccel and The Plaza Group are building an incubator in Peoria dedicated to medical device development with working capital available to qualifying companies. More than just a facility, this collaboration was created to connect the medical device community.

Robert has also initiated a new network for the medical-device community, the Arizona Medical Device Alliance LinkedIn Group.

Future plans include networking and educational events, all designed to strengthen Arizona’s medical device community.


Tags: bioaccel, medical devices, peoria, plaza group, robert green
Feb 07, 2012

Regents name candidate for UA presidency

Members of the University of Arizona community will have the chance to meet the candidate for UA's presidency in less than a week. Ann Weaver Hart, currently president of Temple University, will visit UA's Tucson campus on February 13.

As Temple's president, Dr. Hart oversees a academic medical center, Temple University Health System, and during a six-year tenure has achieved several milestones for Temple:

She has significantly increased undergraduate and graduate applications while raising the academic qualifications of incoming students; produced an institutional record number of Fulbright scholars; improved the freshman retention rate and time to degree; grown research expenditures by nearly $30 million; fostered technology transfer and economic development efforts; and advanced Temple's ranking with the National Science Foundation seven spots. The Chronicle of Higher Education cites Temple's graduation rate as increasing at the second fastest rate among public research universities nationwide, a feat accomplished under Hart's leadership.

Previously, Dr. Hart served as president of the University of New Hampshire, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Claremont Graduate University, and dean of the Graduate School and special assistant to the president at the University of Utah, where she earned her doctorate in educational administration. 

Read more at the source: "ABOR Names Ann Weaver Hart as UA Presidential Candidate"

Tags: anne weaver hart, arizona board of regents, university of arizona
Jan 31, 2012

Bio event kicks off SciTech Festival

Arizona Science and Technology Festival

The official kick-off of the Arizona SciTech Festival will take place at the Arizona Science Center on Saturday, February 4. 

The day-long celebration will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a full slate of activities focusing on innovations in bioscience, including bioscience activities, presentations, and a showcase of innovations from Arizona's leading companies.

The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is free and open to the public. The Arizona Science Center is located in downtown Phoenix at 600 E. Washington St.

Tags: arizona science center, arizona scitech festival
Jan 03, 2012

Nature speaks with Keim about H5N1 studies

In Nature, Heidi Ledford speaks with pathogen-genomics expert Paul Keim of Northern Arizona University and TGen North about the controversial recommendation by the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity--Keim chairs the panel--that Nature and Science censor papers on how to make the H5N1 avian flu virus more transmissible:

“We’re being accused of being the bad guys,” says Keim, based at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. “But most of what we’ve done is to push back against harsher regulations.” Since its inception, Keim says that the NSABB has only been asked to review six papers, including two in 2005 that described the reconstruction of the 1918 influenza virus that is thought to have killed more than 20 million people. In that case, the board recommended that the papers simply be amended to spell out the public-health benefits of the research.


In the course of its deliberations over the H5N1 papers, the NSABB became aware of additional work on H5N1 transmissibility that was nearing publication. Keim says the board is now considering whether to recommend a voluntary moratorium on the publication of such work until the community can discuss further precautions to prevent misuse. He expects the board to vote on this in the next few weeks, and adds: “It is time for us to have a broad and global discussion.”

Read more: "Call to censor flu studies draws fire"

Tags: h5n1, northern arizona university, paul keim, tgen north
Dec 19, 2011

BioAccel launches network to attract bio funding

From the Phoenix Business Journal:

BioAccel, a Phoenix nonprofit that helps startups commercialize their products, has created a network to attract more funds to Arizona’s biosciences community.

While a few local biotech companies have garnered venture capital from out-of-state sources this year, the lack of capital coming from within Arizona continues to plague the industry.

Enter the Philanthro-Capitalist Network, a group that aims to bring together the business community and high-net-worth individuals looking to invest in biotechnology-related companies.

Bio­Accel CEO MaryAnn Guerra said her goal is to build a life-science ecosystem in Arizona that can connect scientists with angel funds, manufacturers and others who can help take their ideas to the next level.

“We have a lot of high-net-worth individuals who could participate in a fund or invest,” she said. “We have great technology coming out of universities and research institutes and medical centers.”

What’s still missing is what Guerra calls deal flow.

BioAccel's latest effort to instigate growth in the biosciences in Arizona follows on the heels of its creation with the Peoria City Council and the Plaza Companies of the Peoria Incucelerator.

Read more: "BioAccel launches venture capital network for AZ biosciences"

Tags: bioaccel, maryann guerra, peoria, venture capital
Nov 12, 2011

CSS Institute for Advanced Health signs data-center partner

The Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health, which announced earlier this year that it would establish headquarters in Phoenix, has, with NantWorks LLC and National LambdaRail, selected IO, "the leading provider of next-generation modular data center technology and services," to support the giant data center that the CSS Institute is establishing in Phoenix.

"Now, for the first time, we are able to bring together a high-performance communications network, dedicated storage capacity and high-performance computing," said Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Chairman of the CSS Institute, NantWorks and the NLR. "This is the infrastructure that we have so far lacked for healthcare, and which is vital to translate genomic data into actionable clinical decision making. It is the beginning of 21st century medicine."

"In addition to generating massive volumes of information requiring high-performance IT, the regulatory environment of the healthcare ecosystem also requires a highly protected and reliable infrastructure," said Anthony J. D'Ambrosi, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. "IO's high-density and ultra-secure infrastructure enables healthcare IT to accomplish their goals both today and into the future."

Read more: "IO Announces Contract with the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Advanced Health, NantWorks LLC and National LambdaRail"

Tags: css institute for advanced health, io, national lambdarail, patrick soon-shiong
Sep 02, 2011

ABOR okays new UA research facilities

[From the Arizona Daily Star]

The University of Arizona has crossed an important approval threshold for two new research facilities, including one for the BIO5 Institute.

Capital improvement plans were approved by an Arizona Board of Regents committee on Thursday.

Having the projects in the plan allows the university to spend some money to hash out project details, including how to repay bonds to finance the projects, ahead of more stages of approval.


A proposed $85 million bioscience lab facility would be built near the Bio5 building for disease research.

Read more at the source: "Regents panel OKs UA plans for 2 new research buildings"

Tags: arizona board of regents, bio5 institute, infrastructure, university of arizona
Sep 01, 2011

Science Festival developing events, seeking sponsors

Arizona Science and Technology Festival

The inaugural Arizona Science and Technology Festival will occur during February 2012 with events at sites across the state. Individuals and organizations wishing to participate in and support this unique opportunity to showcase Arizona's scientific strength and potential should contact Jeremy Babendure, director of the Festival.

What are the aims of the Festival, and how big an undertaking will it be? Here's what Dr. Babendure has to say:

Spearheaded by the Arizona Technology Council Foundation, Arizona State University, and the Arizona Science Center, the Arizona Science and Technology Festival will be 6-week statewide celebration involving 200+ orgs in industry, education and community to inspire Arizonans about how STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) will drive the future of Arizona.

Through a series of hands-on activities and workshops, discussions, exhibitions, concerts, and tours centered during the month of February 2012, the First Annual Arizona SciTech Festival’s goals are to (1) brand Arizona as a leader in science and technology; (2) inform/inspire our future workforce about opportunities in AZ; and (3) serve as a focal point to bring diverse stakeholders in workforce, education and community together.

We anticipate the festival will reach 100,000+ Arizonans through 300+ activities that take place in diverse neighborhoods throughout the state with: signature events highlighting the innovative character of each region (aerospace, technology, bioscience) with high energy exhibitions and shows; 20+ neighborhood hubs providing workshop and discussion opportunities at accessible locations such as libraries and community centers; tours of science/technology facilities statewide; and activities, talks and challenges in-schools to get kids engaged before, during and post festival.

Tags: arizona science and technology festival, arizona technology council, asu, jeremy babendure
Aug 09, 2011

UA undergrad researchers share findings

This afternoon in Tucson, top undergraduate researchers from around the country--and beyond--will show off the results of 10 weeks of work at the University of Arizona:

One-hundred-fifteen graduate school-bound juniors and seniors from schools across the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Latin America will exhibit their summer research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation and the University of Arizona.

These outstanding students have participated in a 10-week intensive summer research program under the supervision of UA faculty mentors, conducting research in the sciences, social sciences, education and humanities. This is an excellent opportunity to recruit top students for master’s and PhD programs at UA.

[More about the conference]

Tags: stem education, university of arizona
Jul 22, 2011

Students share research to conclude KEYS internships

[From Inside Tucson Business]

Five weeks of reserach at the University of Arizona has concluded for the latest cohort of participants in the KEYS internship program, one of Arizona's great summer research opportunities for young people. The program is sponsored by the UA College of Pharmacy and the BIO5 Institute.

"This is what the University of Arizona is all about," said Jennifer Barton, a UA biomedical engineering professor and assistant director of the Bio5 Institute. "It's important that we serve the state of Arizona."


Their research covered a diverse spectrum of topics, including the effects of habitat fragmentation among mountain lion populations, genetic characteristics of rice that could help maximize harvest yields and the foraging behavior of honeybees.

Businessman Thomas Keating, who is also a Bio5 Institute benefactor, said the students work and that of the scientists they've teamed with was an inspiration.

"It's so easy to admire these people," Keating said.

Read more at the source: "High school students get hands-on with scientific research"

Tags: bio5 institute, jennifer barton, keys internship, university of arizona
Jul 21, 2011

UA COM adds integrative-medicine specialization

[From the Arizona Daily Star]

Students at the UA College of Medicine now have a new option for specialization in their medical education: studying with one of the most well-known alternative-medicine proponents in the world, Dr. Andrew Weil:

The University of Arizona's College of Medicine announced Wednesday that it is starting a new track for medical students who want to focus on integrative medicine - healing that takes into account the mind, body and spirit.

The special area of focus, which will be taught in partnership with Dr. Andrew Weil's Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, is one of just three distinction tracks at the UA College of Medicine. The other two are global health and medical student research.

Tags: andrew weil, arizona center for integrative medicine, university of arizona, university of arizona college of medicine
Jul 19, 2011

Cardinal Health opens $11M Phoenix facility

With little advance fanfare, Cardinal Health Inc., based in Dublin, OH, has opened an $11M facility in Phoenix near the Tempe border. With the research site come 20 new jobs:

The 25,000-square-foot facility at 4505 E. Broadway Road will help pharmaceutical companies and academic research institutions accelerate the development, testing and commercialization of new radiopharmaceuticals and positron emission tomography imaging agents used in PET scans.

The 20 positions in Phoenix include roles for radio-chemists, engineers, scientists, product development managers, project managers and quality and regulatory personnel.

Cardinal Health is on of the larger bioscience companies to establish a foothold in Arizona in recent years. The firm has more than 30,000 employees worlwide, and annual revenue of $99 billion.

Read more at the source: "Cardinal Health opens $11M imaging research center in Phoenix"

Tags: cardinal health, molecular imaging
Jun 20, 2011

Promising skin-cancer drug nears approval

A promising new drug to treat advanced basal-cell skin cancer is inching closer to FDA approval. The treatment, guided through the development process by Daniel Von Hoff, TGen's physician in chief, would mark a major milestone for Arizona bioscience leaders:

The drug, called GDC-0449, is expected to receive Food and Drug Administration approval this fall. The drug began testing in 2008 at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials in Scottsdale, a partnership between the Translational Genomics Research Institute and Scottsdale Healthcare.

It would be the first drug connected to either institution to receive FDA approval.


"It's the reason everyone exists and works to help somebody," said Von Hoff, who also serves as chief scientific officer at Scottsdale Healthcare and US Oncology. "Everybody involved with this is very proud. And if it's done once, you can do it again."

Perhaps as exciting, the mechanism the drug targets, the "Hedgehog" pathway, may provide a target for a more widely dreaded cancer:

Scottsdale is in the early stages of testing the safety and effectiveness of GDC-0449 for treatment of other forms of cancer, including pancreatic.

Read more at the source: "Scottsdale-tested 'miracle' cancer drug awaits FDA approval"

Tags: daniel von hoff, scottsdale healthcare, tgen
Apr 07, 2011

Algae Biosciences Corp. taken public

Algae Biosciences Corp., a northern-Arizona firm working in three bioscience niches--neutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and biofuels--will soon be a public company. The reverse merger with Triwood Capital Corp. values Algae Biosciences at more than $6.8 million (Canadian):

Triwood Capital Corp. (TSX-V: TRD.H), to be renamed Algae Biosciences Corporation, has filed a final prospectus for an offering of up to 25 million common shares at $0.20 per share to raise up to $5 million. The offering is expected to close on April 15, 2011.


As Triwood’s proposed qualifying transaction (QT), Triwood and Algae Biosciences have agreed to effect a forward triangular transaction under which Algae Biosciences will merge with and into Algae Delaware, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Triwood, with Algae Delaware as the surviving entity. Following the completion of the QT, Triwood will be renamed Algae Biosciences Corporation.

Read more at the source: "Triwood Capital/Algae Bioosciences Files Final Offering Prospectus"

Tags: algae biosciences corp., biofuels
Apr 07, 2011

Career pipeline forum to feature Teach for America founder

Education forumAn upcoming forum on education and workforce development sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce will feature Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach For America, and Jonah Edelman, co-founder and CEO of Stand for Children.

"Education for All Arizona Students: What It Will Take" will be held at the Arizona Biltmore on April 13. The forum will concentrate on how to create broader opportunities for students' academic success and how to improve career options for all Arizona students.

Joining Kopp and Edelman will be a panel of business leaders including Cathleen Aubin Barton, southwest education manager for Intel Corp., MaryAnn Guerra, CEO & chairman of the board for BioAccel, and J. Robert Landolt, director of finance for attack helicopter programs at the Boeing Company.

Tags: bioaccel, maryann guerra, stem education, teach for america, wendy kopp
Apr 01, 2011

Apthera Inc. acquired for $7.2M

[From the Worcester Telegram and Gazette]

Scottsdale-based Apthera Inc. has been purchased for $7.2 million by RXi Pharmaceuticals, a Massachusetts company. 

Mark W. Schwartz, Apthera president and CEO, will become chief operating officer of RXi, the companies reported.

RXi is focused on RNA interference, technology that aims to block the activity of genes. The company’s first product under development, RXI-109, aims to reduce surgical scarring.

Acquiring Apthera gives RXi a therapeutic vaccine for cancer called NeuVax that is close to the third and final phase of human testing in breast cancer patients. NeuVax uses a small peptide from a protein expressed by certain tumors to prod the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.

Apthera's Robert Kennedy will also join RXi.

The acquisition comes in the wake of RXi's decision to move from a focus on research into product development.

Read more at the source: "RXi to buy Ariz. firm"

Tags: apthera, mark schwartz, rxi pharmaceuticals
Mar 28, 2011

Tolleson superintendent pledges STEM focus

[From the Arizona Republic]

In the West Valley, STEM education has a new champion in charge:

Tolleson Elementary School District governing board members promoted Lupita Hightower to superintendent.

Hightower, who is in her third year with the district, was promoted three times this year - once after the assistant superintendent left in June, and twice after the superintendent left late last semester.

In a brief Q&A, Dr. Hightower stated that she wanted to focus more on STEM education in lower grades:

Q: What are your top goals as the district's new leader?

A: Definitely to be able to offer more opportunities for students in STEM . . . science, technology, engineering and math. Right now we have tried to bring a lot of opportunities after school and during summer school. Our sixth through eighth grade is definitely set with those classes, but our younger grades don't get them as much. So really, (I want to) provide these opportunities for the students so they are able to collaborate with each other and (so) they are able to gain those 21st-century skills. So they're problem solving and using their critical thinking skills more than your typical reading and math programs.

Read more at the Source: "Hightower promoted to Tolleson Elementary district chief"

Tags: lupita hightower, stem education, tolleson
Mar 17, 2011

Collaboration between ASU, Mayo supported by BioAccel

Arizona State University and Mayo Clinic are developing a new device that could put an end to the painful finger pricking that patients with diabetes must endure on a daily basis.

The project, funded first by a seed grant from Mayo Clinic, now also has support from BioAccel, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization focused on accelerating the commercialization of bioscience technology.

The new sensor would enable people to draw tear fluid from their eyes to get a glucose-level test sample.

Glucose in tear fluid may give an indication of glucose levels in the blood as accurately as a test using a blood sample, the researchers say.

“The problem with current self-monitoring blood glucose technologies is not so much the sensor," says Jeffrey T. LaBelle, a bioengineer. "It’s the painful finger prick that makes people reluctant to perform the test. This new technology might encourage patients to check their blood sugars more often, which could lead to better control of their diabetes by a simple touch to the eye."

LaBelle, the designer of the device technology, is a research professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is leading the ASU-Mayo research team along with Mayo Clinic physicians Curtiss B. Cook, an endocrinologist, and Dharmendra (Dave) Patel, chair of Mayo’s Department of Surgical Ophthalmology. The team reported on their early work on the sensor in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology last year and at various regional and national conferences.


“With funding provided by BioAccel, the research team will conduct critical experiments to determine how well the new device correlates with use of the current technology that uses blood sampling,” says Ron King, BioAccel’s chief scientific and business officer.

The results should help efforts to secure downstream funding for further development work from such sources as the National Institutes of Health and the Small Business Incentive Research Program, King says.

Read more at the source: "ASU, Mayo Clinic team work to help diabetes patients"

Tags: arizona state university, bioaccel, diabetes, mayo clinic
Mar 09, 2011

PBS-Bio identifies mechanism for cancer drug candidate's effectiveness

Predictive Biomarker Sciences, a Mesa-based firm, has concluded a study that explains how a drug candidate developed by the Brussels-based firm Unibioscreen kills cancer.

Previous studies have shown that over-activity of a gene known as MCL1 can cause cancer cells to grow out of control. PBS-Bio, which is owned in part by the non-profit, Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), co-discovered that UNBS1450 effectively shuts off the gene and induces apoptosis, the cancer cell’s normal process of cellular death.

“It’s a very nice candidate drug,” said Dr. Michael Bittner, a biologist and Principal Investigator of the PBS-Bio technology. Dr. Bittner said UNBS1450 is effective against MCL1 in very low dosages, which means it could potentially be delivered to patients with minimal side effects and low toxicity. MCL1 is prevalent in leukemia, non-small-cell lung cancer, as well as cancers of the prostate and pancreas.

“The presence of MCL1 can be used as a stratification, or predictive, biomarker to help determine which cancer patients are most likely to respond to UNBS1450,” said Dr. Edward Smith, co-founder and CEO of PBS-Bio. This would be particularly beneficial, Dr. Smith said, in selecting patients to participate in clinical trials of UNBS1450, and ultimately in helping physicians decide who should be placed on the drug once it is approved for general use.

Read more at the source: "PBS-Bio uncovers how Unibioscreen drug kills cancer"

Tags: predictive biomarker sciences, tgen
Mar 07, 2011

Reserve space at Arizona Pavilion at BIO Convention

From Sandra Watson, COO of the Arizona Commerce Authority:

BIO 2011 is just around the corner! The Annual BIO International Convention is the world’s largest biotechnology gathering. Over 15,000 biotechnology, life science and industry professionals from around the world will gather to highlight the future of biotechnology at the BIO 2011 Annual International Convention in Washington D.C. from June 27 – 30, 2011.

The Arizona Commerce Authority will be promoting Arizona as the premier location to establish a bioscience company and exposing Arizona’s existing bio companies and research organizations to potential partners and customers worldwide.

The Arizona Pavilion provides strategic opportunities for companies, organizations and communities to make an impact at the BIO 2011 Annual International Convention.

Please join us and show your commitment to accelerating Arizona’s bio industry and making this year the best yet at BIO! For more information contact Jennifer Edson at

Tags: arizona commerce authority, bio international convention
Feb 19, 2011

STEM Network meeting draws national education leaders

[From the Arizona Republic]

A group backing science and math education took another step in its attempt to make the state more competitive and to diversify Arizona's economy.

The STEM Network met Monday and Tuesday to develop strategies for boosting student interest and expertise in science, technology, engineering and math.


This week was the second meeting of the fledgling STEM Network. It met in September to kick off the statewide effort, which was immediately backed by a $100,000 federal stimulus grant and a $500,000 private grant. Its next step comes in March when STEM leaders travel around the state.

This week's meeting drew business and education leaders from New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

Read more at the source: "Group aims to hike science, math skills"

Tags: science foundation arizona, stem network
Feb 16, 2011

TGen, Mayo sequence pancreatic cancer tumor

[From the Arizona Republic]

Ken Alltucker of the Republic reports on an important project that the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the Mayo Clinic (Scottsdale) have completed: sequencing the genome of a pancreatic cancer tumor--quickly.

Doctors and scientists have talked about the prospect of tailored medical treatments based on an individual's DNA since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. Yet the technology has provided few practical tools for doctors as they provide care for patients facing life-threatening disease.

"We were impressed with the technology," said Keith Stewart, Mayo Clinic's dean of research. "What we couldn't figure out is how we would make this clinically applicable for the future."

The extraction and sequencing took 6 weeks, and cost an estimated $150,000. But given the expense of many cancer-fighting drugs, and the potential for sequencing costs to continue falling, TGen and Mayo are already closing in on a clinical viability.

John Carpten, director of TGen's cancer-genomics division, said that the cost of such DNA sequencing should be compared to existing chemotherapy drugs. Such cancer drugs may cost as much as $60,000 to $70,000 per round, and patients often must endure multiple rounds of such therapies before they find one that is effective for them.

"What if you spend tens of thousands up front to try to figure out the right regimen to give patients?" Carpten said. "We are in the proof-of-principle stage. We have to prove to the medical establishment that providing this type of molecular detail is as or more beneficial (than current therapies). It is up to us to prove it."

Read more at the source: "DNA quickly mapped in study by Mayo Clinic, TGen"

Tags: mayo clinic, tgen
Feb 07, 2011

Are science fairs in trouble?

[From the New York Times]

Amy Harmon of the Times provides a national roundup:

Rarely have school science fairs, a source of pride and panic for generations of American students, achieved such prominence on the national stage. President Obama held one at the White House last fall. And last week he said that America should celebrate its science fair winners like Sunday’s Super Bowl champions, or risk losing the nation’s competitive edge.

Yet as science fair season kicks into high gear, participation among high school students appears to be declining. And many science teachers say the problem is not a lack of celebration, but the Obama administration’s own education policy, which holds schools accountable for math and reading scores at the expense of the kind of creative, independent exploration that science fair projects require.

Read more at the source: "It May Be a Sputnik Moment, but Science Fairs Are Lagging"

Tags: science fairs, stem education
Feb 07, 2011

Researchers work on malaria-proof mosquitoes

[From the Sacramento Bee]

Hudson Sangree of the Bee reports on a celebrated project led by researchers at the University of Arizona and the University of California at Davis:

Open the door to a vault-like room at UC Davis and the cool sterility of a laboratory gives way to the sticky heat of the tropics, with thousands of mosquitoes buzzing in cages and feasting on blood.

Here in the university's medical sciences complex, researchers are studying mosquitoes which they genetically altered to resist the parasite that causes malaria.

In other words, malaria-proof mosquitoes.

Now the goal is to make the altered mosquitoes hardier than native varieties, which they could someday supplant in nature throughout the world.

Read more at the source: "UC Davis researchers work to create malaria-proof mosquitoes"

Tags: university of arizona
Feb 01, 2011

Journal of Neuroscience features Barrow research on cover

[From Barrow Neurological Institute]

The cover article for the Feb. 2 edition of Journal of Neuroscience features research led by Andrej Romanovsky of Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center.

The featured research discovers a new role of TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid-1) receptors in the regulation of locomotor activity, or the movement from place to place. [...] While studying how TRPV1-deficient mice regulate their body temperature, the researchers made an unexpected observation that these animals, when young, exhibit a much higher locomotor activity than control mice. [...]

The researchers then conducted experiments with drugs that block or activate TRPV1 receptors and looked at how these drugs affect general motor activity. These pharmacological experiments confirmed that TRPV1 receptors located outside the brain send signals to the brain to suppress locomotion.

"We all know that the body's propensity for physical activity changes based on numerous factors," explains Dr. Romanovsky. "For example, we do not want to exercise after having a large meal, when it is hot outside, or when we are tired, nauseated or in pain. We all know people who seem to be naturally inactive, as well as people who are more active than others. Our study suggests that the TRPV1 receptors may send signals that play a role in regulating the extent of locomotor activity."

Read more at the source: "Barrow TRPV1 research highlighted in Journal of Neuroscience"

Tags: barrow neurological institute, fever lab, st. joseph's hospital and medical center
Jan 31, 2011

Bad news on STEM education. But good news, too.

The headline in the Jan. 28 Arizona Republic is not the kind anyone interested in STEM education would like to see: "Arizona students fare poorly in science."

The Republic notes a new report issued by the National Assessment of Educational Progress and finds that:

Students in fourth and eighth grades scored 11 and 8 points, respectively, below the national average. Arizona's fourth-graders earned 138 on a scale of 300, which was below the national average of 149. Eighth-graders in Arizona scored 141, below the 149 national average.

Arizona-specific results did not include the 12th grade, but overall, the state ranked among the 10 lowest in the 2009 assessment of student knowledge of physical, life, Earth and space sciences.

Darcy Renfro, vice president of Science Foundation Arizona's STEM Initiatives, cuts to the chase:

"What I am seeing in these numbers is that we're not moving the ball in science, and we have to start approaching this in a fundamentally different way." She adds, ""How do you engage students by making (STEM) more interesting and relevant? You have to start with the colleges of education."

The news in Arizona is not uniformly bad, though, as many of those involved in strengthening STEM education would attest.

Also released this week was the Milken Institute's annual state technology and science index, which ranked Arizona 15th, up from 17th last year. That's good, by itself. But look closer, and there are particular niches to be excited about.

One of Milken's sub-assessments is the Human Capital Investment Composite Index. It contains some sobering statistics--especially related to education funding--and some exciting ones. It sure looks like the work done at the community colleges and universities in recent years to encourage students toward degrees in STEM subjects is paying off--In some areas, Arizona is among the nation's best:

  • All Recent Degrees in Science and Engineering per 1,000 Civilian Workers (2007): Rank: 4
  • Recent Bachelor's Degrees in Science and Engineering per 1,000 Civilian Workers (2007): Rank: 6
  • Recent Master's Degrees in Science and Engineering per 1,000 Civilian Workers (2007): Rank: 2

Renfro and her colleagues have something to build on.

Tags: darcy renfro, milken institute, science foundation arizona, stem education
Jan 25, 2011

The State of the Union--and Arizona STEM education

President Obama meets Cesar Chavez High School students Diego Vazquez and Antonio Hernandez

When President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address this evening, several Arizonans with ties to the state's biosciences sector will be in attendance. Most prominent among them will be the medical team that cared for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot Jan. 8 in Tucson, including University Medical Center physicians Randall Friese, Michael Limole and Peter Rhee, and intensive-care nurse Tracy Culbert.

Also on hand for the address will be someone who has spent less time in the spotlight: South Mountain Community College freshman Diego Vasquez, who will join Dr. Rhee and other honored guests in the First Lady's box.

Vasquez, the White House announced Jan. 24, will be recognized for his participation as a member of Laveen Cesar Chavez High School's 12-person team that participated in the 2009-2010 Lemelson-MIT Program’s InvenTeams celebration of innovation.

According to the White House, the Cesar Chavez team designed a "fully adjustable motorized chair for medically fragile individuals." Vasquez and fellow Cesar Chavez student Antonio Hernandez represented the team at the White House Science Fair in October 2010, where he met President Obama and demonstrated how the prototype chair works.

At the October event, the president singled out the Arizona students for commendation:

We can think of Diego Vazquez and Antonio Hernandez, representing Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix. Where are those guys? I met them earlier. There they are, right there. (Applause.) They developed a new motorized chair to help a classmate with disabilities—and won a grant competition as a result. They did not have a lot of money to do this. They didn’t have a lot of advantages in life. In fact, the first time they were ever on an airplane was when they flew to present their invention. But they did have a desire to work together to help a friend and to build something that never existed before.

And by the way, the way they funded their project—they had—they and their folks made tamales. They had a huge tamale-making session and were selling them. And they were showing me the video of how they raised the funds to be able to enter in this competition. Unbelievable.

That’s not just the power of science. That’s the promise of America. Anybody with a good idea can prosper. Anybody with talent can succeed. That’s why we’re here today. That’s what we’re all celebrating. And that’s why it’s so important that we promote math education and science education, on behalf of not just this generation but all the generations to follow.

Tags: nsf, sotu, south mountain community college, stem education
Jan 24, 2011

Alzheimer's discovery receives national attention

The endorsement by an FDA advisory panel of a new test to diagnose Alzheimer's disease in living patients has ignited excitement among researchers and clinicians about potential benefits that Alzheimer's patients may soon see.

The new test was developed by drugmaker Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, with important research contributions from scientists at the Phoenix-based Banner Alzheimer's Institute. Eric Reiman, the institute's executive director, and Pierre Tariot, director of the institute's memory disorders center, were both interviewed by numerous Arizona and national media outlets, including:

Tags: banner alzheimer's institute, eric reiman, pierre tariot
Jan 20, 2011

AZBio now offers members special rates on FedEx shipping

The Arizona BioIndustry Association offers an array of money-saving benefits to its members--enough that many member companies and organizations save more than their membership dues.

The newest benefit is a significant discount on FedEx shipping services, a result of the partnership between AZBio and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the international trade association for the biotech industry.

Erin Donahue, AZBio's director of operations, provided these details of the program in an email to members:

As a member of AZBio, the program offers your company:

• Up to 33% off select FedEx Express®U.S shipping

• Up to 35% off select FedEx Express international shipping

• Up to 23% off select FedEx Express®Freight shipments of more than 150 pounds

• Up to 15% off select FedEx Ground®shipping

(The discounts above on FedEx Express and FedEx Express international shipments include an additional 5% discount when you create shipping labels for eligible shipments on or with another approved FedEx®electronic shipping solution.) As a member of AZBio, your company is eligible to take advantage of this FedEx program with no enrollment fees or shipping quotas, as the program is offered as a benefit of AZBiomembership.

For more information or to enroll in the program, go to Information about other cost-savings programs offered by AZBiocan be found at

Learn more about becoming a member of the Arizona BioIndustry Association.

Tags: azbio, purchasing
Jan 19, 2011

Adrian Shelton named to UA research post on interim basis

[From University Communications, University of Arizona]

Adrian Shelton is certainly no stranger to the University of Arizona. Not only is she married to the University's top administrator, she's also actively involved with the campus community, particularly through her fundraising efforts for the Arizona Assurance financial aid program. But her ties to the UA recently became even stronger when she was appointed interim assistant vice president for research compliance and policy.


In the interim role, Adrian Shelton is heading up the University's Office for the Responsible Conduct of Research, which helps University researchers comply with a variety of federal regulations pertaining to topics such as human subjects research, humane animal care and use, laboratory safety, and various issues related to scientific integrity and ethical practices.

A national search for an individual to fill the position on a full-time basis will be underway within the next few weeks.

Read more at the source: "Adrian Shelton Appointed Interim Assistant VP for Research Compliance and Policy"

Tags: adrian shelton, research compliance, university of arizona
« Previous 1