Moving Forward Faster Requires Leaders and Innovators: 2011 AZBio Award Winners Announced

The Arizona BioIndustry Association announced the leaders and innovators who are moving the Arizona biosciences industry forward faster at the 2011 AZBio Awards on October 13, 2011 in front of a standing room only crowd.  Winners include: Dr. Nadja Anderson of the University of Arizona BIO5 Institute, 2011 Michael A. Cusanovich Educator of the Year, SynCardia Systems, Inc.,  as the 2011 Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year, Dr. Robert Penny  of the International Genomics Consortium as  Jon W. McGarity Bioscience Leader of the Year , Dr. Jessica Langbaum of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute as 2011 Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year, and Greg Stanton as the winner of the 2011 Public Service Award.

At a time when leadership and innovation are in greater demand than ever before, the Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio) welcomed to the stage a host of accomplished leaders and innovators who are moving the Arizona biosciences industry forward faster at the 2011 AZBio Awards on October 13, 2011 in front of a standing room only crowd at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona.

“BIO is the state’s leading growth sector and our community came out in force to acknowledge the accomplishments of their peers” shared AZBio President and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker.  “The Arizona bioscience industry has been steadily increasing  employment and is pushing out new discoveries and innovations at an ever increasing rate.  Even in these challenging economic times the biosciences have continued  to move forward faster in Arizona.  There is no secret cause and effect.  We have  incredible leaders and organizations here in our biosciences community and they  deliver results.”

The AZBio community celebrated those results with a gala event which included a Discovery Showcase featuring the bioscience projects of 24 students from Arizona’s High Schools, community Colleges and Universities who attend from across the state. Eighteen companies, all selected for their achievements in both the scientific and business arenas where honored as Fast Lane Award winners.  The attendees were also treated to a special introduction to IBM’s Watson and future strategies for advancing health from David Kerr, Director, Corporate Strategy, IBM, Armonk, N.Y.

On Friday, October 14th, the community reunites for a full day exposition showcasing Arizona bioscience organizations and for educational sessions, panels and keynotes all designed to deliver the latest information on accessing capital, highlighting where the growth sectors are, and what resources are available to keep things growing.  Many of the honorees will be exhibiting in the exposition hall including 2011 Bioscience Company of the Year award winner, Syncardia Systems, Inc., and honorees VisionGate and Calimmune.

“The AZBio Awards and Expo is more than an opportunity for our leaders to take a well-deserved bow for past success,” stated Glen Galster, co-founder of Algae Biosciences Incorporated and Chairman of the Board of AZBio.  “Friday’s AZBio Expo is our opportunity to come together as a community to share what it takes to accelerate new and existing bioscience companies here in Arizona so we all can to move forward faster.”

And The 2011 Award Winners  Are:

2011 Michael A. Cusanovich Educator of the Year:        

Nadja Anderson, Ph.D., Director of the BIOTECH Project, University of Arizona, BIO5 Institute

Dr. Anderson was recognized for creating professional development opportunities for teachers in biotechnology, providing incredible resources for their biotechnology curriculum such as reagents and equipment, her work with teachers to design new biotechnology labs,and the time she devotes to weekly training workshops for high school students  accepted to the BIO5 summer research internship, KEYS. 

2011 Award for Research Excellence:

 Jessica Langbaum, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute

Dr. Jessiica LangbaumDr. Langbaum took home the Award for Research Excellence in recognition of the body of work she and her team have produced in the fields of Alzheimer’s Research.  Dr. Jessica Langbaum is recognized for her progressive research focus on the use of imaging for studying the earliest evidence of Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain, and her contributions to a collaborative team effort in an extremely large international project – Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative. Working closely and collaboratively with Doctors Eric Reiman, M.D. and Pierre Tariot, M.D. at the Banner Research Institute, Dr. Langbaum is a leader in her own right within the Bio industry.  She is extensively involved with academic medicine, already an international speaker, and respected in the urgent call to arms for the evaluation of presymptomatic Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

2011 Honorees:

2011 Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year Award:
Syncardia Systems, Inc.

The Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year Award recognizes the for-profit  bioscience company whose Arizona-based operations did the most to transform the  world during the last 12 months. SynCardia Systems, Inc. makes it possible for patients awaiting donor hearts to not only survive the wait but also to do  so with flexibility and mobility.  A feat of biomedical engineering that is world changing for these patients.


SynCardia Systems, Inc. is the privately-held manufacturer of the world’s first and only
FDA, Health Canada and CE (Europe)  approved Total Artificial Heart and the new
Freedom® portable driver, a wearable power supply for patient discharge. 

Weighing 13.5 pounds, the Freedom portable driver has transformed life for patients with
Total Artificial Hearts. For the first time in U.S. history,  stable patients without human hearts are being discharged from the hospital to wait for a matching donor heart at home.  Such patients include an Oklahoma preacher who has returned to the pulpit, a  female army  veteran who enjoys tai chi in her local park and a 21-year-old new mom who has returned home to take care of her nine-month-old baby.  

In March, Fast Company named SynCardia #20 among the “World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” for “giving mobility to artificial heart  recipients.”     In Q2 2011, SynCardia announced it had nearly tripled  its first-half sales from 2010 in addition to posting its first  quarterly and first-half profit in company  history. During the past year, 40 transplant centers have enrolled in SynCardia’s Certification Program to implant the Total Artificial Heart. 

The Freedom portable driver is approved in Europe and undergoing an FDA clinical  study in the U.S. To date, 26 patients have been enrolled in the study, with 15 of these patients being discharged home. This is half of the 30 discharge patients required by the FDA study. Prior to the development of the Freedom  Driver, U.S. Total Artificial Heart patients were confined to the hospital for months, sometimes years, while they waited for a transplant because the only FDA-approved driver is hospital-based and weighs 418 pounds. 


2011 Jon W. McGarity Leadership Award :

Robert J. Penny, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, International
Genomics Consortium

Can your leadership change the face of a community?  Dr. Robert Penny’s has.

 As the International Genomics Consortium’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Penny has used his executive leadership skills and insight to deliver awards totaling $58 million over five years in National Institutes of Health funding to Arizona in the last 12 months.    In other significant achievements, he  co-led the recent launch of the Arizona Biosignature Laboratory (ABL) with the Critical Path Institute and Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and  successfully spun off an IGC start-up company.   These accomplishments have helped keep Arizona in the national spotlight of leading translational pgenomics in  medicine and  provided high-quality jobs.    The ABL was initially funded in 2010 with a $2.2 million Science Foundation  Arizona grant to develop and  standardize biomarkers and biosignatures of drug  efficacy or safety. ABL is an IGC collaboration with Critical Path Institute and  ASU’s Biodesign Institute. Dr. Penny is a key leader in this effort for Arizona.  


  • Dr. Joan Rankin Shapiro, Associate Dean for Research for the University of Arizona -College of Medicine
  • Nina Ossanna,  Ph.D., Director, Business Development and Strategic Planning, BIO5
    Institute, The University of Arizona

2011 Award for Public Service:  

Greg Stanton, former Phoenix City Council Member and 2011 Mayoral Candidate, City of Phoenix

The AZBio Award for Public Service honors current and former elected officials who through their efforts are helping to make Arizona a place where bioscience companies and institutions can flourish.

During his tenure on the Phoenix City Council, Greg was a strong voice in favor of developing our biosciences community and the investments needed to support it. Greg backed this up with action and results.  A charter member of the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, he has been an outspoken proponent of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and was the lead Phoenix councilman bringing TGen to Arizona, which many point to as the start of Arizona’s prominence in the bio-sciences. Greg was also the lead councilman in bringing the ASU campus and U of A Medical School to downtown.


2011 Fast Lane Honorees: 

Arizona Bioscience Companies and organizations in the healthcare and health information fields that though innovations implemented in the last 18 months have yielded measurable results based on sales growth, job growth, or other commercial metrics and are moving their
organizations and our state forward faster.
Fast Lane Honorees:

  1. 360 Vantage, Chandler, AZ
  2. Algae Biosciences Incorporated, Overgaard,      AZ
  3. Celebration Stem Cell, Gilbert,      AZ
  4. EmpowHER Media,  Scottsdale, AZ
  5. Eye Care and Cure, Tucson, AZ
  6. Flagship BioSciences, Flagstaff,      AZ
  7. HTG Molecular Diagnostics, Inc., Tucson, AZ
  8. Invoy Technologies LLC, Chandler, AZ
  9. Mission3, Scottsdale, AZ
  10. NascentMD, Tucson, AZ
  11. PADT  Medical,      Tempe, AZ
  12. Provista Diagnostics, Inc., Phoenix, AZ
  13. Regenesis Biomedical, Scottsdale, AZ
  14. RiboMed Biotechnologies, Inc., Phoenix, AZ & Carlsbad, CA
  15. St. Joseph’s Hospital/CHW, MiHospital Program, Phoenix, AZ
  16. TGEN Drug Development (TD2), Scottsdale, AZ
  17. The CORE Institute, Phoenix, AZ
  18. The International Genomics Consortium, Phoenix, AZ


About AZBio

AZBio – The Arizona BioIndustry Association – is comprised of member organizations in
business, research, government, and other professions involved in biosciences.   AZBio supports the members of the Arizona bioscience community by providing access to the key resources, connections, and information that support their ability to Connect, Collaborate, Innovate and Succeed thus supporting the growth of a thriving economic ecosystem for Arizona’s Bioscience Industry.


Contact:   Joan Koerber-Walker  480-332-9636


About the Arizona Bioscience Industry:

Thanks to a coordinated plan developed in 2002 and supported by leaders from Arizona’s
healthcare industry, corporations, government, and universities, Arizona is
moving forward faster in economic development, job creation and bioscience
research.  From 2002 until today, jobs in Arizona’s bioscience industry have grown 32%, the number of bioscience and related firms including research, manufacturing, testing, medical labs, and healthcare delivery systems have grown 28% and research partnerships with the
National Institutes for Heath have increased 65%.  Arizona bioscience organizations now generate $21 Billion in annual revenues and $765 Million in state and local taxes.

Posted in AZBio News, Members.