Arizona Bioscience Community to Honor Dr. Michael E Berens of TGen for Leadership

CHANDLER, Ariz — (BUSINESS WIRE) — The Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio) today announced today that Michael E. Berens, PhD, Professor; Deputy Director for Research Resources; and Director of the Cancer and Cell Biology Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is the Jon W. McGarity Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year.  Dr. Berens will be honored by Arizona’s bioscience and business communities for his leadership and his contributions to building the coalitions that have shaped the state’s life science industry at the 2018 AZBio Awards on October 3, 2018 at the Phoenix Convention Center.


Dr. Berens has relentlessly pursued collaborations that have led to the expansion of Arizona’s bio science infrastructure.

Under the leadership of Bob Case and Dr. Berens, the Arizona Bioindustry Cluster was born in 1997. While at the Barrow Neurological Institute, Dr. Berens was the first to lead the cluster and for over 20 years has been a leading voice in Arizona’s bioscience community.

Early on, he was a catalyst, sparking the interest of Arizona’s politicians and industry leaders and encouraging them to gather the resources and make the investments needed bring TGen to Arizona and begin what would become the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

He continues to be active in the technology and public policy sectors and is a past member of the AZBio Board of Directors and past Chairman of the Arizona Technology Council.

In everything he does, Dr. Berens embraces a collaborative approach to his outreach with research, public/private partnerships, health care providers and individuals to promote not only the advancement of the bio science space, but Arizona’s leadership role as well.

He mentors and guides students and young researchers and has long served as a “go-to” resource for Arizona’s business leaders.

His grasp of human nature, ability to bring people together and his “what does a win look like?” mantra makes him an Arizona Bioscience leader that key initiatives recruit for their teams.

“Dr. Berens was the first person to help me see the promise and potential of Arizona’s emerging bioscience industry,” shared Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of AZBio.  “Great leaders are great communicators.  He has spent countless hours advocating for our community, our bioscience industry, and for the patients who will benefit from the discoveries and innovations that translational research can deliver.  His quiet, unassuming style helps us all to put things in perspective as he encourages us to explore new ways to get better outcomes.”

Helping patients and their families find a path to the “most best days”.

In addition to his roles as Deputy Director for Research Resources at TGen, Dr. Berens serves as Director of the Cancer and Cell Biology Division and Professor in the Brain Tumor Unit.  The Brain Tumor Unit at TGen studies cancers that originate in the brain and cancers that metastasize to the brain. Specific anatomic and physiologic aspects of the central nervous system establish unique interactions between tumor cells and host cells, which his team pursues with the intent of bringing new treatment approaches to these devastating diseases. Three pillars of study dominate the landscape of the BTU’s research: Invasion Biology, Treatment Development, and Correlative Studies to Clinical Trials.

Dr. Berens received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.  His academic career has included appointments at the University of Zurich, the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, the University of California at San Francisco, and the Barrow Neurological Institute or BNI.

At BNI, he served for 12 years as Senior Investigator and Director of Neurology Research. He currently leads a translational research program in brain tumors that includes preclinical therapy development, novel treatment target discovery, and the study of malignant cell motility; early stage clinical trials in patients with malignant glioma, informed by genomic and proteomic profiling (theranostic biomarkers), demand major portions of his attention. His research program includes collaborations with Barrow Neurological Institute, Mayo Clinic, multi-institutional consortia and laboratories in Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney and Bergen (Norway).  In addition, he serves on editorial boards for scientific journals and committees that support governmental agencies, professional societies, and non-profit organizations.  Dr. Berens current research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and private medical Foundations, including the Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. He holds four patents, and founded two for-profit ventures: Creative Scientific Methods Inc., and Avolix Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

For his leadership in the scientific community, the Arizona Bioscience Community and his unswerving commitment to building collaborative solutions that continue to move our community forward year after year, Dr. Michael E. Berens is the 2018 Jon W. McGarity Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year.

A key component of Arizona Bioscience Week, The AZBio Awards & Life Science Fiesta brings together Arizona’s life science and leadership community with visitors from around the country to celebrate life-science innovation and innovators.  The  AZBio Awards takes place on the evening of October 3, 2018 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Highlights of the evening will include honoring Dr. Daniel D.  Von Hoff with the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement and a celebration of the achievements of leading researchers, educators, and innovator companies.  The Life Science Fiesta following the award ceremony features a Student Discovery Zone that showcases the work of fifty students from Arizona high schools, community colleges, and universities along with exhibits featuring Arizona companies and patient advocacy organizations. The AZBio Awards & Life Science Fiesta are presented by AZBio and the Arizona Commerce Authority.

The White Hat Life Science Investor Conference (White Hat 2018) brings together the next generation of biotech and healthcare pioneers from across the Rocky Mountain & Southwest Region with investors locally, nationally, and internationally.  Held at the Phoenix Convention Center on October 4, 2018, White Hat 2018 is a collaboration between the bioscience industry associations across the region. The conference showcases investment opportunities for investment into privately-held companies in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices, and health information technology. Thirty-two companies have been competitively selected by a committee of experienced life science investors to present at White Hat 2018. Companies that presented at White Hat in 2014 and 2016 have gone on to receive almost $200 million in investment from private investors and corporate investors.

For more information on Arizona Bioscience Week, visit   

For more information on the 2018 AZBio Awards, visit

For more information about White Hat 2018, visit

About AZBio

For 15 years, the Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio) has supported life science innovation and life science innovators in Arizona.  A key component in Arizona’s life science ecosystem, AZBio is the only statewide organization exclusively focused on Arizona’s bioscience industry.  AZBio membership includes patient advocacy organizations, life science innovators, educators, healthcare partners and leading business organizations. AZBio is the statewide affiliate of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and works in partnership with AdvaMed, MDMA, and PhRMA to advance innovation and to ensure that the value delivered from life-changing and life-saving innovation benefits people in Arizona and around the world.   

For more information visit and www.AZBio.TV


AZBio Media Contact: 

Joan Koerber-Walker, Arizona Bioindustry Association  480-332-9636

Images available upon request.

Posted in AZBio News.