TGen post-doctoral fellow wins $200,000 Bisgrove Scholars award

Dr. Candace Lewis studies twins to gage the genetic impact of stress on children and how it may affect behavior; lead to therapies

PHOENIX, Ariz. - July 28, 2015 - Dr. Candace Lewis, a research scientist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), is one of five recipients of the 2015 Bisgrove Scholars award, Science Foundation Arizona announced today.

The award is accompanied by a $200,000 grant over two years to support the scholar's research.

"The Bisgrove Scholars award has given me a rare opportunity as a young investigator to pitch a big concept idea and acquire the funding for it," said Dr. Lewis, a post-doctoral fellow at TGen and in the Psychology Department at Arizona State University. "I am excited to be able to conduct this research into this important question in Arizona."

Dr. Lewis' big concept is an investigation, based on studying multiple sets of twins, into how stressful events in the lives of young children might cause changes to their DNA and RNA, and how these changes might then influence their behavior - in a positive or negative way - later in life.

"We are looking at how adverse experiences early in life could change genetic expression, which later could influence an abnormal stress response of the type highly prevalent throughout psychiatric disorders," Dr. Lewis said.

By helping to unravel the molecular mechanisms by which experiences can shape neurobiology and behavior, Dr. Lewis hopes to use precision medicine to help advance new pharmacological and behavioral therapies.

At TGen, Dr. Lewis is under the mentorship of Dr. Matt Huentelman, an Associate Professor of Neurogenomics and Co-Director of TGen's Center for Rare Childhood Disorders: "I'm excited to help mentor Candace in the next stage of her career. Her study design could have a significant impact on children in Arizona."

Dr. Lewis' Bisgrove Scholars award was one of five selected by Science Foundation Arizona from top-tier applicants from around the world. The post-doctoral and early career, tenure track faculty members will conduct research at Arizona's top research institutions beginning this summer. Other scholars announced were: Dr. Heather N. Emady, Dr. Owen Hildreth, Sara Parker, and Dr. Yuji Zhao.

"Arizona's and the nation's future is interconnected with the competitiveness and creativity of the next generation of academic researchers in science and engineering," according to SFAz.

SFAz created the Bisgrove Scholars program with the support of local humanitarian Jerry Bisgrove, to attract to Arizona exceptional individuals who have demonstrated substantial achievement, and possess the potential to transform ideas into great value for society.

Dr. Lewis is a native of Alaska, where she earned a bachelor's in psychology from University of Alaska Anchorage. She earned a Ph.D. in psychology, behavioral neuroscience on a Harry S. Truman Scholarship at ASU, and recently won a Fulbright Scholarship.

"Arizona's future is dependent on the ability to attract and retain the best minds in science and engineering," said Bill Harris, president and CEO of SFAz. "Bisgrove Scholars are synonymous with top-tier science and engineering research talent. This program and these select individuals have the ability to transform their fields of research into direct value not only for Arizona, but for all of society."

For more information about the Bisgrove Scholars program, visit

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About Science Foundation Arizona
Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization initiated in 2006 by the Greater Phoenix Leadership Inc., Southern Arizona Leadership Council and the Flagstaff Forty in conjunction with the executive and legislative branches of state government. SFAz serves as a catalyst for high-wage, knowledge-based jobs and economic diversity through administration and strict oversight of research, development and education grants to public education and other non-profit research performing institutions. For more information, visitwww.sfaz.organd like us onFacebook.

About TGen
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes, 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,

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
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