Helios Scholars at TGen prepares students for success

One intern seeks physician-scientist career after participating in real-life biomedical research at TGen
PHOENIX, Ariz. — June 10, 2019 — For recent college graduate Annie Schmidt, her internship last summer at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, melded her experiences with a grandparent and a desire to foster better medical care for patients with dementia.

Her internship as a member of the 2018 class of Helios Scholars at TGen not only helped encourage her to pursue a career as a physician-scientist, but also helped her focus on Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia as a specialty.

“After walking with my grandfather through dementia, I plan to direct my career in medicine towards helping families struggling with cognitive changes,” said Annie, who last year studied a rare genetic link to Alzheimer’s. She returns today to TGen as a member of the 2019 class of Helios Scholars at TGen. “My work in the field of Alzheimer’s disease at TGen directly furthers that plan.”

This is a prime example of how TGen provides high-level science research exposure through its premier internship program, Helios Scholars at TGen, which is sponsored by Helios Education Foundation.

Now in its 13th year, Helios Scholars at TGen each summer provides 45 undergraduate, graduate and medical school students a paid 8-week internship that aims to prepare the next generation of Arizona bioscience researchers and physicians.

Since 2007, more than 500 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, diabetes, infectious diseases and many types of cancer.

Annie again will work in the lab of TGen Professor Dr. Matt Huentelman, where this summer she will help analyze the reaction times of volunteers who take TGen’s MindCrowd test, the world’s largest scientific survey of how normal healthy brains function. More than 115,000 people — from all 50 states and more than 150 nations around the world — have completed the 10-minute online test at MindCrowd.org, helping researchers to better understand Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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.

“We believe Helios Scholars at TGen is preparing students like Annie for the future, providing them with real-world, laboratory experience that will help prepare them for success in college and career,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “Arizona will need talented, self-disciplined and caring individuals in the future to address the many serious and rare diseases that affect individuals and families.”

The 2019 class of Helios Scholars at TGen starts today, June 10, and ends August 2 with a daylong scientific symposium, showcasing the students’ accomplishments. Helios Scholars earn an hourly wage that varies with experience.

Annie, a Phoenix native who recently completed her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Arizona State University, is now considering applying to medical school, pursuing dual degrees as an M.D. and Ph.D.: “This would have been impossible without my experience as a Helios Scholar at TGen.”

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.

About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. 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. 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. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.

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
602-343-8704  |  syozwiak@tgen.org

Media Contact:
Rebecca Lindgren, Vice President, Marketing Communications
Helios Education Foundation
602-381-2294  | rlindgren@helios.org

Posted in AZBio News.