TGen provides scientific starting blocks for Helios Scholars

Intense 8-week internship helps build Arizona’s future biomedical workforce

PHOENIX, Ariz. — July 27, 2011 — As the Olympics begin today, Arizona’s future leaders in biology and medicine will spring from scientific starting blocks at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The 45 interns in the Helios Scholars Program at TGen will complete eight weeks of scientific investigations with a daylong symposium today at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

Under the mentorship of TGen researchers — who provide one-on-one instruction — Helios Scholars use leading-edge technology to help discover the genetic causes of diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and many types of cancer.

This is the sixth year of TGen’s Helios Scholars program, funded for 25 years through a $6.5 million grant from Helios Education Foundation. Helios is focused on creating a high-expectations, college-going culture in Arizona and Florida by investing in initiatives that improve education at all stages of the continuum and create opportunities where all students are prepared to attend and succeed in postsecondary education.

“TGen’s summer intern program is a prime example of why Helios believes in the transformational power of education and in the importance of creating opportunities for student success,” said Helios Education Foundation President and CEO Paul Luna. “Helios Scholars at TGen get a head start in advancing their professional goals in a hands-on program. At the same time, they are potentially making breakthroughs that could benefit actual patients.”

TGen’s Helios Scholars Program is open to high school, undergraduate and graduate level students, including those in medical school.

“Our collaboration with the Helios Education Foundation is helping prepare a new generation of scientific investigators for Arizona,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen’s President and Scientific Director. “We enable them to explore the biosciences beyond the classroom, engaging their research skills through critical work in state-of-the-art laboratories.”

The internships help students from all backgrounds — selected from a competitive pool of applicants — sharpen their research skills as they prepare for careers in science and medicine.

“TGen’s cultivation of the scientific interests of these students is an investment in Arizona’s future. We’re enhancing the skill sets they will need to succeed in today’s high-tech, knowledge-based economy,” said Brandy Wells, TGen’s Education and Outreach Specialist. “It is amazing what these students have been able to accomplish in such a short time.”

TGen’s past summer interns boast an array of impressive accomplishments, including publishing scientific abstracts and peer-reviewed articles, gaining acceptance into medical and graduate school and winning scholarships and prizes.

The application for next year’s Helios program opens in January 2013. For more information about TGen and the internship program, visit


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About Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation is focused on creating a high-expectations, college-going culture in Arizona and Florida by investing in initiatives that create opportunities for postsecondary education success. The Foundation focuses its investments across the education continuum in three key impact areas: Early Childhood Education, the Transition Years (Grades 5-12) and Postsecondary Scholarships. As an engaged foundation, embedded in communities
across both states, the Foundation is contributing its leadership, expertise and financial resources to better prepare students to succeed academically and to compete in a globally competitive economy. Since 2006, Helios has invested over $115 million in education-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida. For more information about the Foundation, visit

Press Contact:
Israel Barajas
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Helios Education Foundation
Office: 602-381-2281
Mobile: 602-999-9786


About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit:

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer

Posted in AZBio News, Members.