Over 40 young professionals gathered in the downtown Phoenix bioscience corridor for a tour of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) facilities.

TGen performs genomic research into cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders and infectious diseases. Their mission is to translate their work into diagnostics, therapies and treatment for individuals.

Dr. Troy McEachron, a senior post-doctoral fellow in Integrated Cancer Genomics at TGen, shared an overview of precision medicine. He explained how TGen collaborates with Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) on pediatric cancers to analyze genetic data from patients to guide treatment options for doctors.

“People that are willing to go out and take a risk and go against the grain because that’s what’s best for a patient, those are the kind of people TGen aligns with,” McEachron said.

McEachron explained how our understanding of pediatric cancers is several years behind our knowledge of adult cancers because pediatric cancers are comparatively rare. That being said, Dr. McEachron and the clinical team at CHOC are utilizing the cutting-edge technology and expertise at TGen to close this gap on a patient-by-patient basis.

“Technology allows us not only to treat pediatric cancer but to understand the basis for it,” McEachron said during the presentation. “We’re going to let DNA tell us exactly what’s wrong.”

TGen’s director of marketing, Stacy Bertinelli, and other staff led tours through TGen futuristic six-story headquarters. Opened up in 2005, the 173,000-square-foot building boasts of plenty of glass windows that provide natural light to labs and office areas.

Research associate Jennifer Harper at the zebrafish installation.

Research associate Jennifer Harper at the zebrafish installation.

The group got an exclusive look into TGen’s new zebrafish installation where pancreatic cancer research is being conducted.

The group also learned about TGen’s concussion research project with Arizona State University and Riddell helmets from Research Associate Victoria David in the Center for Proteomics.

Although TGen is a private, nonprofit research institute, the organization’s research discoveries have led to the creation of 16 spin-off companies, like MedTrust Online, said Bertinelli. This is possible through TGen Accelerators LLC, a firm that translates TGen’s research discoveries into medical services and treatments.

“Technology is crucial to finding out information and also making sense of it,” Bertinelli said on the tour. “The work we are doing here is making a difference in patients’ lives.”

-Written by Carolina Lopez digital marketing administrator for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

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