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  • Posted Tuesday March 17, 2020

TGen, a Genomic First Responder, and the State of Arizona, launches tracking statewide for the COVID-19 coronavirus

TGen’s infectious disease lab in Flagstaff makes assisting Arizona’s public health its #1 priority; puts Arizona at the forefront of efforts to combat this global health threat

PHOENIX and FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — March 17, 2020 — Acting as Genomic First Responders, The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, is coordinating with the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and others to combat COVID-19, using advanced biomedical technologies to help establish a statewide public health screening network.

TGen is working with federal, state and local governments, private healthcare providers and others to expand testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Arizona; part of a concerted effort to get out in front of this global health threat.

From Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, TGen is receiving batches of patient respiratory samples in cases where other lung diseases have been ruled out. TGen is conducting rapid analysis of hundreds of samples per day to detect COVID-19, and any other virus, that may be circulating undetected in Arizona’s communities.

Arizona is among the first states in the nation to establish such a comprehensive public health testing program to:

  • Determine how widespread COVID-19 is within Arizona.
  • Identify emerging hotspots as they occur.
  • Assist in efforts to contain and prevent the disease.

In addition, TGen is assisting ADHS to confirm and further analyze positive COVID-19 coronavirus samples, using whole genome sequencing to determine the strain of coronavirus, where the virus likely came from, track how it is moving, and whether it is mutating.

TGen has increased testing capacity

TGen tests do not rely on, and therefore are not limited by the availability of, the federal government’s COVID-19 test kits. As a result, TGen has a much greater capacity to conduct COVID-19 testing. And because of its state-of-the-art laboratories and computer analysis, TGen can report back results in 24 hours to ADHS.

TGen is not administering tests to the general public. Individuals who are concerned they might have the COVID-19 coronavirus should work with their doctors and healthcare providers.

“We are not only able to answer the call for the State of Arizona, but also for others, as well,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, President and Research Director of TGen. Following a decade as Scientific Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he founded non-profit TGen, headquartered in downtown Phoenix, in 2002 with the help of Arizona government agencies, the business community and private contributions. “TGen joins with others in this battle to protect the health of people across Arizona, throughout the nation, and internationally.”

TGen tests based on precision medicine

“We are constantly in pursuit of precision medicine and precision epidemiology, providing unparalleled capacity, accuracy and speed at a time when all of these qualities are essential in beating back the global health threat posed by emerging diseases like COVID-19,” said Dr. David Engelthaler, Director of TGen’s Pathogen and Microbiome Division (infectious diseases) in Flagstaff.

To cover the initial costs of its efforts, TGen has received grants of $100,000 each from: two private foundations — the Flinn Foundation and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust — and also from the non-profit NARBHA Institute.

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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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