Ivy Neurological Sciences Internship Program at TGen readies student-scientists for next phase of their careers

Ivy internships prepare students for the rigors of human nervous system research

PHOENIX, Ariz. - June 29, 2017 - Alena Gladwin and Tristan Neal have a far greater appreciation of both the challenges and rewards of biomedical research, following their academic year internships in the brain tumor laboratory at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Alena and Tristan worked alongside TGen scientific faculty as part of the 2016-17 Ivy Neurological Sciences Internship Program at TGen, sponsored by the Scottsdale-based Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation.

"This was my first exposure to biomedical wet-lab research, and I absolutely loved it," said Alena, a recent graduate of Grand Canyon University, whose Ivy internship at TGen focused on cellular signaling mechanisms - the cascade of molecular-level communication that transpires within microscopic cells - that underlie how glioblastoma cancer cells migrate and invade brain tissue.

Her long hours of research and experiments landed her a scientific poster presentation in April in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). With more than 37,000 members, AACR is the world's largest organization of professionals dedicated to preventing and curing cancer.

"My Ivy internship has been an inexpressible blessing to me, and has helped me confirm the passion I have to pursue biomedical research in neuroscience," said Alena, who is applying to medical and doctoral programs to fulfill her dream of earning an M.D./Ph.D. and pursuing a career as a physician scientist so she can merge patient care with cutting-edge research.

For Tristan, his study of finding more efficient ways to deliver new drug inhibitors to patients with glioblastoma brain cancer was presented in February in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest and most widely recognized global science gathering. The Ivy program at TGen enabled him to consolidate his goals and focus on a future of helping patients through biomedical research.

"My Ivy internship taught me to think about, and meticulously plan, long-term research goals and experiments," said Tristan, who this fall will continue as a junior at Arizona State University's Barrett, The Honors College, studying Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology. He also will explore those same disciplines when he goes abroad as a temporary exchange student at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

"I now have a better understanding of research, experimental design, how to balance work and school, the career options in front of me, and what path I want to begin taking for myself," Tristan said. "Thanks to the Ivy program, I can confidently say that I am better prepared for graduate school and a career in research."

Also participating in the Ivy program this summer are two high school students who will work alongside TGen scientists for 10 weeks, culminating with presentations at TGen's annual intern symposium July 28 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

The 2017 summer Ivy interns are Vilina Mehta of BASIS Scottsdale and Shayna Cohen of Scottsdale Preparatory Academy. The 2016 summer Ivy interns were Ciara Lespron-Hammett of Perry High School in Gilbert, and Somil Jain of Hamilton High School in Chandler.  

Now starting its sixth year, the Ivy program offers hands-on biomedical research experience for high school, undergraduate and medical school students pursuing careers in brain tumor research, neuroscience and neurogenomics. The program offers top students time in the laboratory, working with TGen investigators to further their skills and benefit from an immersive scientific experience through patient-centered research projects. In addition, Ivy interns receive professional development training, and exposure to physicians and patients in clinical settings.

"Working with the world-class scientists at TGen, we have designed this program to foster the next generation of research scientists capable of helping solve the complex challenges faced by patients with brain cancer," said Catherine (Bracken) Ivy, President of The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. "Having witnessed the effects of this disease, I cannot think of a more worthy biomedical pursuit."

For more information, please contact Julie Euber, Manager of TGen's Education and Outreach program, at jeuber@tgen.org or 602-343-8459.

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About The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., was formed in 2005, when Ben Ivy lost his battle with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Since then, the Foundation has contributed more than $70 million to research in gliomas within the United States and Canada, with the goal of better diagnostics and treatments that offer long-term survival and a high quality of life for patients with brain tumors. The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation is the largest privately funded foundation of its kind in the United States. For more information, visit www.ivyfoundation.org.

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 neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes, and infectious diseases, 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. TGen is allied with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and cancer and diabetes treatment center. This precision medicine alliance enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

Media Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
602-343-8704
syozwiak@tgen.org

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