Prez of prestigious Tucson bio firm says he’d like to employ local college grads

December 18, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Andrea Rivera, The Arizona Daily Star,; 520-807-8430; Dec 17, 2009]


Ventana Medical Systems Inc. President Hany Massarany stood in front of about 90 high school students last week and encouraged them to pursue degrees related to science, medicine or technology so they could one day work for the Oro Valley company.


Massarany made his comments Dec. 9 at Ventana Young Scientists Day.


Students from Amphitheater, Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge high schools in the Amphitheater school district and Marana and Mountain View high schools in the Marana school district attended last week’s event at Ventana Medical Systems, 1910 E. Innovation Park Drive. Among other things, Ventana Medical develops and manufactures medical instruments used to diagnose cancer.


Massarany, who also is head of Roche Tissue Diagnostics, told the students Ventana would like to hire local college graduates. “It would be great if you are all inspired and motivated to pursue science and to work at Ventana and stay in Tucson,” he said.


Canyon del Oro senior Ellen Thomas isn’t ready to decide on a career but said visiting Ventana and seeing what goes on there will be helpful.


Students rotated through six different hands-on activities where they interacted with Ventana professionals. Chemistry, engineering, histology and pathology were some of the topics covered during Young Scientists Day.


They also received a quick lesson on antibodies and antigens.  “I never thought about pathology or any of the fields represented at this company and it’s cool to learn about something different right before you go off to college,” Thomas said.


Canyon del Oro senior Claudia Flores is certain she will study biomedical engineering in college as it integrates her two favorite subjects — math and science — but her experience at Ventana introduced her to other fields of science.  “It was an eye-opening experience overall,” she said. “We got to see what opportunities we have. I didn’t know much about pathology.”


Flores and the other students looked at stained slides with pathologist Dr. Robert Taylor.


Together, they viewed slides on multi-headed microscopes that showed lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer and bone marrow.


Pathologists study and diagnose diseases using different methods. “He made it seem interesting. He treats his patients by looking in a microscope,” Flores said.


Mountain View High School junior David Martinez wants to be exposed to as many scientific fields as he can before he heads off to college and focuses on becoming a pharmacist.


In a lab at Ventana, he was introduced to histology and watched as technicians removed tissue from a human colon, cut it up and put it on a slide to be stained.


Participating in Young Scientists Day appealed to Martinez’s curiosity and appreciation for science.  “I’m good at it and enjoy it,” he said. “There’s always a way to check your answers and I like solving problems and finding new solutions.”