Helios Scholars at TGen learn teamwork, technique and tenacity

Symposium caps 8-week internship of real-life biomedical research sponsored by Helios Education Foundation

Keilen Eidalith Costilla-Martinez learned this summer that she is not afraid to fail in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge, taking on a highly aggressive and usually fatal disease — triple-negative breast cancer — in the biomedical labs of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Keilen is one of 45 Helios Scholars at TGen who will show what she learned during her 8-week summer internship at a daylong scientific symposium today at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

“Most importantly, I learned that research comes with failure, and that it is okay to make mistakes as long as we don’t stop and lose motivation,” said Keilen, a graduate of Phoenix’s Central High School who wants to pursue a career in precision medicine research.

“Everything I have learned and accomplished at TGen will make me be a better scientist in the future,” said Keilen, who this fall will be a sophomore at Smith College in Massachusetts, where she is majoring in Biochemistry.

Sponsored by Helios Education Foundation, Helios Scholars at TGen provides undergraduate and graduate students, including some in medical school, a paid internship that aims to prepare the next generation of Arizona bioscience researchers and physicians.

Since 2007, 464 students have participated in Helios Scholars at TGen, in which TGen scientists share research expertise and technical skills, bioethics, experimental design, and the translational process of quickly moving laboratory discoveries into new therapeutics to benefit patients with neurological disorders, infectious diseases and many types of cancer.

“Helios Scholars at TGen trains Arizona-based students for the ultra high-tech world of modern biomedical science,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “The real-world laboratory experience at TGen is preparing these students for success in college and career as well as helping to strengthen the future knowledge-based workforce in our state.”

For Helios Scholar Connor Vuong, a graduate of Phoenix’s Desert Vista High School, working this summer on a brain cancer known as glioblastoma taught him how to participate as part of a team in TGen’s Brain Tumor Unit.

“I have developed a greater understanding of the scientific method and importance of each step in an experiment in order to understand where I can improve my results,” said Connor, who will be a senior this fall, majoring in Biochemistry, at Arizona State University. He plans to be a physician. “While I am unsure of what specialty I want to pursue, I want to have the opportunity to apply the novel clinical research being done at TGen, and other institutions across the nation, towards improving patient care.”

Helios Scholars at TGen also is designed to: increase access to academic experiences for underrepresented populations; demonstrate TGen’s and Helios’ leadership in innovative bioscience education; and enable graduates to become peer models who can inspire other students to achieve.

For more information, please contact Julie Euber, TGen Manager of Education and Outreach, at jeuber@tgen.org or 602-343-8459, or go to www.tgen.org/education.

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About TGen
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes, and infectious diseases, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and cancer and diabetes treatment center: www.cityofhope.org. This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

About Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to achieve a postsecondary education. The Foundation’s work is driven by four fundamental beliefs in Community, Investment, Equity and Partnership. Helios invests in programs and initiatives across the full education continuum – from early grade success through postsecondary education. In Arizona, where Latino students comprise the largest percentage of the K-12 public school population, the Foundation is implementing its Arizona Latino Student Success initiative focused on preparing all students – especially students in high poverty, underserved Latino communities – for success. Through Helios’ Florida Regional Student Success Initiative, the Foundation is helping underserved, minority, first-generation students from the state’s large population centers in Miami, Orlando and Tampa achieve a postsecondary education. 
Since 2006, the Foundation has invested more than $200 million in education programs and initiatives in both states. To learn more about Helios, visit us online at www.helios.org.

Media Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Sr Science Writer
Media Contact:
Rebecca Lindgren
Vice President, Marketing Communications
Helios Education Foundation

Posted in AZBio News.