$15,000 ASU 'Edson' grant could help find a better way to detect breast cancer

PHOENIX, Ariz. - June 24, 2009 - Eric Anderson, an intern at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) who already has secured several major academic awards, has done it again - this time receiving a $15,000 grant for his proposal to develop a better way of detecting breast cancer.

Anderson was awarded $15,000 from Arizona State University's Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, which he will put toward his efforts at TGen to validate a molecular diagnostic test for 'basal-like' breast cancer, a highly aggressive tumor subtype that accounts for nearly 15 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed.

"The goal of my project is to validate that breast tumors of the basal-like subtype can be successfully distinguished from tumors of other breast cancer subtypes through molecular (mRNA) profiling," said Anderson, who has worked as a TGen intern for three years.

"Breast tumors of the basal-like subtype exhibit clinical behavior that is significantly different from other breast tumors. As a result, patients with tumors of this subtype will likely experience better outcomes if they can be accurately diagnosed and provided with optimal treatment for this subtype as early as possible."

Besides scientific instruments, the award will provide Anderson with office space, training and coaching, and advisement through ASU Technopolis, a program to help advance Arizona's knowledge-based economy, including TGen's pursuit of biomedical technology.

Anderson's Edson grant is one of only a handful funded through an endowment that annually provides $200,000 in seed money for ASU students as they develop new ventures.

In May, USA Today named Anderson one of the nation's Top 40 students. A senior at ASU, he was named to the national newspaper's prestigious annual All-USA College Academic Second Team.

Also in May, Anderson was awarded a $2,500 Arizona Power Authority Scholarship for the fall 2009 semester to help fund his research under the TGen laboratory supervision of Senior Research Associate Julie Getz, and faculty supervision of Dr. Heather Cunliffe, head of TGen's Breast & Ovarian Cancer Research Unit.

"Eric has worked tremendously hard to achieve a series of very distinguished and highly coveted awards during his tenure as an undergraduate researcher at TGen," Dr. Cunliffe said. "He has attained the necessary critical thought process and level of independence that, I am confident, will result in successful future contributions in biomedical research. I am extremely proud of his accomplishments."

Anderson, who also has worked in research projects at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, will remain at ASU one more year to complete dual majors in Bioengineering and Medicinal Biochemistry. He plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in biomedical research.

Each year at ASU, Anderson has won a fellowship in the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research program, and he is a past winner of the Goldwater Scholarship, considered the nation's highest undergraduate award in science, math and engineering.


About Arizona State University's Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative
The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative harnesses the entrepreneurial energy, excitement and creativity found in ASU's student body. It provides funding, office space and training for teams of students across the university to explore their innovative ideas for business products and services in partnership with faculty, researchers and successful entrepreneurs from both the academic and private sectors. The program will help students succeed in any enterprise, large or small, for-profit or not-for-profit, domestic or global.

About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix-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: www.tgen.org.

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]

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