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  • Posted Monday August 2, 2021

Helios Scholars at TGen learn teamwork, technique and tenacity

Aug. 3 symposium caps 8-week internship of real-life biomedical research sponsored by Helios Education Foundation

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Aug. 2, 2021 — Jackson Abbott, a freshman biology major this fall at Phoenix College, had almost no laboratory experience before joining researchers in the biomedical labs of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope.

Jackson is one of 46 Helios Scholars at TGen who will show what they’ve learned over the summer at a daylong scientific symposium Aug. 3 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

Helios Scholars at TGen is a paid internship program for college undergraduate and graduate students, including medical school, that runs for eight weeks each summer. These Arizona-based bioscience students are paired with world-class TGen mentors for instruction and participation in studies aimed at improving clinical outcomes for patients.

Jackson was mentored this summer by Shukmei Wong, a Senior Research Associate in the lab of Dr. Will Hendricks, a TGen Assistant Professor specializing in canine cancers.

“I learned how aggressive cancer can be. I hadn’t realized how common mutations in cancer can be or how studying cancer in dogs can help us understand cancer in humans. Dogs are a great model for research in human cancers. They live with us. They drink the same water as we do. The cancers they develop are similar to humans; even the way they progress through the body,” Jackson said. “I learned a lot at TGen, and that new knowledge makes me feel confident moving forward.”

Sponsored by Helios Education Foundation, Helios Scholars at TGen aims to prepare the next generation of Arizona bioscience researchers and physicians.

“It is so rewarding to see students back in the labs at TGen, gaining real-world experience that will prepare them for successful careers in the biological sciences,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on creating opportunities for individuals to succeed in postsecondary education. “We are pleased that TGen is again able to provide these students with face-to-face programs in a medically safe environment.”

The program was limited to online-only sessions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Helios Scholars must be 16 by the start of each summer’s program, and have plans to be enrolled as full-time students for the next fall’s semester. They also must be a graduate of an Arizona high school or currently attending a college or university in Arizona. Each intern earns an hourly wage that varies with experience.

The program 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.

Since its beginning in 2007, nearly 600 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.

For information about joining the 2022 class of Helios Scholars at TGen, please contact Kristen Kaus, TGen Manager of Education and Outreach, at [email protected] or 602-343-8719, or visit

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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

Helios Media Contact:
Rebecca Lindgren
Marketing Communications Director
Helios Education Foundation

About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit 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 for Symposium:
Murphy Raine
TGen Director of Marketing
[email protected]


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