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Helios Scholars at TGen prepares students for success in college and career

45 summer interns join TGen scientists in real-life biomedical research

PHOENIX, Ariz. — June 1, 2018 — Komal Agrawal — an undergraduate student at Arizona State University, majoring in biomedical informatics — jumped right into the thick of advanced medical research last summer as one of the Helios Scholars at TGen.

She started her 8-week summer internship at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, looking to discover new treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), one of the most complex and elusive of medical challenges.

It was an example of the high-level science exposure that TGen’s premier internship program provides through Helios Scholar at TGen, which is sponsored by Helios Education Foundation.

Now in its 12th year, Helios Scholars at TGen provides 45 undergraduate and graduate students, including some in medical school, a paid internship that aims to prepare the next generation of Arizona bioscience researchers and physicians.

“As a Helios Scholar, I received an amazing opportunity to experience and understand how to respond in a calm, patient and efficient manner to changes and unforeseen situations that arise when working on a scientific project,” Komal said. “Science usually does not happen exactly as intended, and working on ASD made me a better researcher by learning how to be a problem solver.”

Since 2007, 464 students have participated in Helios Scholars at TGen, in which TGen scientists share research expertise and technical skills, bioethics, experimental design, and the translational process of quickly moving laboratory discoveries into new therapeutics to benefit patients with neurological disorders, infectious diseases and many types of cancer.

The program also is designed to: increase access to academic experiences for underrepresented populations; demonstrate TGen’s and Helios’ leadership in innovative bioscience education; and enable graduates to become peer models who can inspire other students to achieve.

“Arizona will need talented, self-disciplined and caring individuals in the future to address the many serious and rare diseases that affect individuals and families,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “We believe Helios Scholars at TGen is preparing students for that future and providing them with real-world, laboratory experience that will help prepare them for success in college and career.”

The 2018 class of Helios Scholars at TGen will start June 4, and end July 27 with a daylong scientific symposium, showcasing the students’ accomplishments. Helios Scholars earn an hourly wage that varies with experience.

For Komal, working her second summer of Helios Scholars at TGen means an opportunity to test her mathematical and computational skills, which she will need for her chosen career as a bioinformatician or computer scientist in the biotech industry.

“I would like to use data science and computer programing to improve our understanding of the human genome, further precision medicine, and solve healthcare-related issues,” she said.

For more information, please contact Julie Euber, TGen Manager of Education and Outreach, at [email protected] or 602-343-8459, or go to www.tgen.org/education.

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About Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to achieve a postsecondary education. The Foundation’s work is driven by four fundamental beliefs in Community, Investment, Equity and Partnership.  Helios invests in programs and initiatives across the full education continuum – from early grade success through postsecondary education. In Arizona, where Latino students comprise the largest percentage of the K-12 public school population, the Foundation is implementing its Arizona Latino Student Success initiative focused on preparing all students - especially students in high poverty, underserved Latino communities - for success.  Through Helios’ Florida Regional Student Success Initiative, the Foundation is helping underserved, minority, first-generation students from the state's large population centers in Miami, Orlando and Tampa achieve a postsecondary education. 
Since 2006, the Foundation has invested more than $200 million in education programs and initiatives in both states. To learn more about Helios, visit us online at www.helios.org.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Lindgren
Vice President, Marketing Communications
Helios Education Foundation
602-381-2294
[email protected]

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 affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and cancer and diabetes treatment center: www.cityofhope.org. This precision medicine affiliation 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
[email protected]


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