TGen News & Press Releases : Businessman-philanthropist assists TGen-VARI study of rare cancer

SCOTTSDALE (Feb. 26, 2006) - The Stardust Foundation today announced $7.5 million in grants for cancer, autism and bipolar disorder research to foster scientific collaboration through three major Valley biomedical, healthcare and support organizations. The donation is the latest from the Valley foundation that seeks to leverage other dollars flowing into the rapidly developing statewide bioscience efforts to further accelerate success in this area. The state of Arizona, local counties and cities have pushed the bioscience agenda forward and the philanthropic community has supported that effort. The Stardust Foundation, under the direction of local philanthropist and civic leader Jerry Bisgrove, understands that maintaining the momentum and collaborative spirit is essential at this moment in time.

Stardust Foundation Grant recipients include:

  • Scottsdale Healthcarereceived $5 million for cancer research and treatment through the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare. A primary clinical research site for the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center will receive $4 million for its Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute to develop and expand genomic medicine and individualized therapy programs in partnership with TGen. The grant will fund a clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of individualized therapy in patients with advanced cancer. In honor of the Stardust gift, Scottsdale Healthcare is naming the research building at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center the "Debi and Jerry Bisgrove Cancer Research Pavilion." The Pavilion also houses faculty from the University of Arizona's Cancer Prevention and Control Program.

    A $1 million grant will endow the Cancer Care Coordinator position at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare and will be called the "Debi Bisgrove Cancer Care Coordinator Endowment." The Cancer Care Coordinator is an oncology-trained nurse who serves as a single point of contact for cancer patients, offering guidance and education from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up. The service is provided free of charge to the community.

  • The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)received $1.5 million to fund research in bipolar disease and to help expand TGen's overall infrastructure, including computational resources. The grant allows TGen to participate in a national project to find genes that cause the disease. After scanning 2,000 samples from individuals with bipolar disease, TGen researchers hope the information will lead to novel diagnostic tests and possible new drugs.

    The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)received $1 million to fund the Bisgrove Autism Research Center within SARRC's Campus for Exceptional Children. The grant supports SARRC's $7.5 million comprehensive capital campaign to raise money for the new facility and research of the nation's most prevalent developmental disorder, which now affects 1 in every 166 children. SARRC is currently collaborating with TGen on a three-pronged landmark study of autism in the hopes of finding the underlying pathogenesis of the disorder.

  • "Arizona's effort toward building the necessary momentum to support a thriving biosciences community has reached a tipping point and the moment to act is now," said TGen President and Scientific Director, Dr. Jeffrey Trent. "Support from the Stardust Foundation complements existing efforts, thereby accelerating TGen's mission to develop earlier diagnostics and smarter treatments, as well as foster collaborations between TGen and its many partners, including Scottsdale Healthcare and SARRC."

    "With corporate philanthropy on the decline, there is an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurial philanthropists, like Stardust, to facilitate and leverage their donations to build collaboration between major clinical, research and biotech partners," said Jerry Bisgrove, founder of the Stardust Foundation and chairman/CEO of the Stardust Companies. "We have many outstanding organizations conducting very important research right here in our own backyard. While their breakthroughs will benefit patients worldwide, they will benefit local residents of Arizona first. By encouraging further research collaboration, we have much to gain for a healthier future."

    "We are grateful for this grant as it will allow patients in this community access to this technology and help us determine whether it can provide benefit for patients who have exhausted other therapeutic options," said TGen's Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, senior investigator and director of its clinical translational research division and the medical research director at SCRI. Dr. Von Hoff is leading the clinical trial at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center funded by the $4 million Stardust grant. The trial will use genomics to identify weaknesses in the patient's cancer that could be targeted by existing or investigational drug therapy, and then provide the patient with that target-specific treatment.

    Bisgrove sees the Stardust Foundation grants as a good investment with potentially strong returns for the community. "The story is really about collaboration, not money. I equate this to investing risk capital in order to leverage partnerships between existing successful organizations, particularly in the area of genomics," Bisgrove said.

    He also stated that the only way we can succeed in the larger effort is to leverage resources, work together and bring all parties to the table to make a difference.

    About Stardust Foundation
    The Stardust Charitable Group is one of Arizona's largest private foundations. Since its founding in 1992, the Stardust Charitable Group focuses its giving on affordable housing and the family, education, healthcare and bioscience, community engagement, and people in need. Stardust Charitable Group's mission is to provide opportunities for Arizona's working families, who are willing to be engaged in their family and greater community. The opportunities, holistically crafted, integrate housing, education, healthcare and jobs. The balanced Stardust effort creates the ultimate goal of neighborhood stability, greater community enrichment and a world-class state.

    About Scottsdale Healthcare
    Scottsdale Healthcare's vision is Setting the Standard for Excellence in Personalized Healthcare. Founded in 1962, it is the not-for-profit parent organization of the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea, Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn and Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak hospitals, the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute, and a wide range of outpatient services and community outreach programs. Scottsdale Healthcare is governed by a volunteer board of directors composed of leading local citizens. For more information, visit www.shc.org.

    About TGen
    The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is focused on developing earlier diagnostics and smarter treatments. Translational genomics research is a relatively new field employing innovative advances arising from the Human Genome Project and applying them to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases. TGen is focused on personalized medicine and plans to accomplish its goals through robust and disease-focused research.

    About SARRC
    Founded in 1997, the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to autism research, education and resources for children and young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. SARRC undertakes self-directed and collaborative research projects, serves as a satellite site for national and international projects, and provides up-to-date information, training and assistance to families and professionals about ASDs. For more information about SARRC, call (602) 340-8717 or visit www.autismcenter.org.

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