Artificial-heart maker SynCardia, IGC chief Penny take top honors at AZBio Awards

October 24, 2011

By hammersmith

Capping an evening celebrating Arizona’s bioscience community, SynCardia Systems Inc., the Tucson-based maker of the Total Artificial Heart, was named Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year at the 2011 Arizona BioIndustry Association Awards on October 13. Robert Penny, chief executive officer of the Phoenix-based International Genomics Consortium (IGC), was honored with the Jon W. McGarity Leadership Award.

Following on its successful introduction of the FDA-approved Total Artificial Heart, SynCardia has developed a portable power supply for the device. The Freedom Drive System, now under clinical study in the United States, enables patients to leave the confines of a hospital, an important quality-of-life enhancement for patients waiting for a heart transplant.

In the video below, Oklahoma City news station KOCO profiles Troy Golden, a Freedom Drive user who has been able not only to return home, but return to work.

“SynCardia makes it possible for patients awaiting donor hearts to not only survive the wait but also to do so with flexibility and mobility, a feat of biomedical engineering that is world-changing for these patients,” said Joan Koerber-Walker, AZBio’s CEO.

Additional finalists for the Company of the Year Award were Calimmune Inc. of Tucson and VisionGate Inc. of Phoenix.

Dr. Penny co-founded IGC, one of the anchors of the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Last year, IGC secured contracts from the National Cancer Institute worth nearly $59 million to continue as the founding Biospecimen Core Resource and serve as a primary Tissue Source Site network for The Cancer Genome Atlas project. With the awards, IGC cemented its role as one of the world’s most important cancer-research organizations involved in the collection and study of tissue samples.

In June, IGC announced that it had finalized agreements with the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare and the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona for the two institutions to serve as Tissue Source Sites for The Cancer Genome Atlas. Like other sites IGC has recruited, they will provide cancer tissue samples according to standardized protocols, and will submit long-term clinical outcome data, critical for research on the mechanisms of cancer.

Additional finalists for the Jon W. McGarity Leadership Award were Joan Rankin Shapiro, associate dean for research at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, and Nina Ossana, director of business development and strategic planning for the BIO5 Institute at UA.

Other winners of AZBio’s awards included:

  • Michael A. Cusanovich Educator of the Year: Nadja Anderson, director of the BIOTECH Project BIO5.

  • Award for Research Excellence: Jessica Langbaum, staff scientist at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. Other finalists included Cheryl Nickerson, professor, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University; John Moffett, director of life science, Regenesis Biomedical Inc.; and Robert Penny, CEO, IGC.

  • Award for Public Service: Greg Stanton, former Phoenix City councilman, and 2011 Phoenix mayoral candidate. Other finalists included Al White, city council member and 2012 mayoral candidate, City of Flagstaff; and Satish Hiremath, mayor, Town of Oro Valley.

AZBio also named 18 firms and organizations as Fast Lane Honorees, in recognition of their sales and job growth:

360 Vantage LLC, Chandler; Algae Biosciences Corp., Overgaard; Celebration Stem Cell Centre, Gilbert; EmpowHER Media, Scottsdale; Eye Care and Cure USA, Tucson; Flagship BioSciences LLC, Flagstaff; HTG Molecular Diagnostics Inc., Tucson; Invoy Technologies LLC, Chandler; Mission3 Inc., Scottsdale; NascentMD LLC, Tucson; PADT Medical Inc., Tempe; Provista Diagnostics Inc., Phoenix; Regenesis Biomedical Inc., Scottsdale; RiboMed Biotechnologies Inc., Phoenix and Carlsbad, Calif.; St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix; TGEN Drug Development LLC, Scottsdale; The CORE Institute, Phoenix; The International Genomics Consortium, Phoenix.

Following the awards presentation, on October 14, AZBio held its annual Expo. Michael Birt, director of the Center for Sustainable Health at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, presented the keynote address at the Expo.

For more information:

Moving Forward Faster Requires Leaders and Innovators: 2011 AZBio Award Winners Announced,” AZBio news release, 10/14/2011

AZBio Names SynCardia ‘Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year’,” SynCardia news release, 10/18/2011