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  • Posted Wednesday December 11, 2019

TGen Women’s Philanthropy Council awards $76,000 in support of brain and breast cancer research

Grant represents first award by WPC, following first year of dynamic group’s efforts to bridge gaps between science, medicine and the greater community

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Dec. 11, 2019 — Capping off a successful inaugural year, the TGen Women’s Philanthropy Council today awarded $76,000 in support of research into new treatments for glioblastoma, and breast cancer that spreads to the brain. The Women’s Philanthropy Council, co-chaired by Phoenix-area research advocates Vicki Vaughn and Robyn DeBell, champions TGen research that helps move scientific discoveries more rapidly into advanced patient care.

This is the first grant issued by the WPC, whose members make up a diverse group of forward-thinking and dynamic women whose goal is to bridge the gaps between science, medicine and the greater community’s understanding of TGen’s genomic-driven precision medicine. TGen, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, is an affiliate of City of Hope.

“Through WPC grants, we are able to support biomedical research that tackles some of the toughest problems facing medicine today," said Vicki Vaughn, a founding co-chair of the WPC. “Selecting the inaugural recipient from a pool of terrific proposals was difficult, but in the end, we chose a project that pursues research that relates directly to the Arizona community, and one that often has a particularly devastating impact on women.”

Grant recipients Drs. Michael Berens and Sen Peng will look at individual cell identity and function within tumors to better guide treatment decisions for individual patients. Dr. Berens is a TGen Professor and Director of the Cancer and Cell Biology Division, and Head of the Glioma Research Lab. Dr. Peng is a computational scientist in the Berens lab.

“We are very thankful to the WPC for providing essential funding for this study,” said Dr. Berens. “It is both rewarding and reaffirming to link with a group as dedicated as the WPC, who support and share our vision to improve the health and well-being of people in Arizona and around the world.”

Dr. Peng added, “Our brain tumor lab has already developed unique technical and computational skills to perform this study on glioblastomas that start in the brain and on breast cancers that spread to the brain, and this important new funding will help further this research.”

Launched in January 2019, the WPC will again host Living Room Socials in 2020, a series of salon-style events that cover a range of research led by TGen investigators.

Among the featured themes under consideration for the coming year are: the key role prevention will take in the future of cancer care; leveraging the body’s own immune system to fight cancer; and the use of genomics to control communicable disease outbreaks, antibiotic resistance and hospital-acquired infections.  

The WPC gatherings are not only about various illnesses, but they also present an opportunity for TGen scientists to provide WPC members with information about how individuals can manage their own health; how to get and stay healthy. The WPC members in turn help spread that knowledge throughout their own personal networks within the greater community.

“Over the course of our first year, these Living Room Socials have proved invaluable to our members’ understanding of the biomedical challenges, the science and the goals that TGen is pursuing on behalf of all Arizonans,” said WPC founding co-chair, Robyn DeBell.

Topics reviewed by the WPC in 2019 included: aging and longevity, the human microbiome, a genomics primer, and super agers. These gatherings and other functions of the WPC are sponsored by Guarantee Trust Life.

“The concept embodied by the WPC of a community led and organized voice for the direction of our science is a first for TGen, and the success achieved by this remarkable group of women in their inaugural year has exceeded all of our expectations,” said Erin Massey, Chief Development Officer at TGen, and Vice President of Philanthropy at City of Hope.

WPC grants are funded through the $2,000 annual investment made by each member of the WPC.

For information about joining the WPC, please contact Nadia Rivera, TGen Foundation Vice President for Cancer Programs, at: [email protected] or 602-343-8470.

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About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases:  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. 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 toward patient benefit).  TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and complex rare diseases in adults and children.  Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: Follow TGen on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter @TGen

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

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