State legislators hear update on Arizona’s biosciences

February 21, 2007

By hammersmith

Bioscience is a vital and growing part of Arizona’s future.

That was the message Feb. 15 as members of Arizona Senate and House health committees gathered in a joint meeting to receive an update on the state of the Arizona biosciences.

The hour-long informational session was arranged by Sen. Carolyn Allen, chair of the Senate Health Committee and member of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee.

Martin Shultz, who chairs the steering committee, provided an overview of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap—its progress, key economic indicators, and hundreds of partners—and made clear why support for bioscience is an investment in Arizona’s future.

Tom Hornaday, president of Hornaday Development, spoke of his family losses to cancer, which spurred him to personally finance the construction of the Collaborative Research Building on the Scottsdale campus of Mayo Clinic. The 100,000 square-foot facility houses Mayo research labs as well as others from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and its Translational Drug Development arm (TD2), Arizona State University, and InNexus.

Dr. Jeffrey Trent, president and scientific director of TGen, outlined the institute’s research and its substantial economic impact on Arizona, as documented by Tripp Umbach in December 2006. He also noted its numerous collaborations, including efforts to help secure a statewide multimillion-dollar Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grant, affiliate with the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix Campus in collaboration with ASU, and initiate operations at TGen North in Flagstaff.

Dr. Leslie Tolbert, UA vice president for research, graduate studies, and economic development, and regents’ professor of neurobiology, highlighted the multidisciplinary scientific research at UA and the BIO5 Institute, the growth of UA as a public research university, its emerging focus on translational research (taking research discoveries from the lab to the patient more efficiently), and the next steps of the Southern Arizona Bioscience Roadmap.

Dr. Kathy Matt, director of the Office of Clinical Partnerships and a professor of exercise science at ASU, discussed the importance of collaborative efforts across institutions, including ASU’s work with Mayo Clinic on a cancer vaccine and projects with other prominent Arizona research institutions. She also summarized progress made during its short tenure by the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, and emphasized the importance of state and local funding in building a solid research base that can compete for larger federal grants.

David Landrith, chair of the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission, focused on the research activities and collaborations that the commission has supported through research contracts, most recently highlighted by its sponsorship and leadership role in the translational research component of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap.