TGen Provides Starting Blocks for Helios Scholars

The day the Olympics began, Arizona’s future leaders in biology and medicine took off from the scientific starting blocks at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).


The 45 interns in the Helios Scholars Program at TGen completed eight weeks of scientific investigations with a daylong symposium at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown


Under the mentorship of TGen researchers, who provide one-on-one instruction, Helios Scholars use leading-edge technology to help discover the genetic causes of diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and many types of cancer.


This is the sixth year of TGen’s Helios Scholars program, funded for 25 years through a $6.5 million grant from Helios Education Foundation. Helios is focused on creating a high-expectations, college-going culture in Arizona and Florida by investing in initiatives that improve education at all stages of the continuum and create opportunities where all students are prepared to attend and succeed in postsecondary education.


“TGen’s summer intern program is a prime example of why Helios believes in the transformational power of education and in the importance of creating opportunities for student success,” said Paul Luna, Helios Education Foundation president and CEO. “Helios Scholars at TGen get a head start in advancing their professional goals in a hands-on program. At the same time, they are potentially making breakthroughs that could benefit actual patients.”


Julianna Ross, a TGen  researche associate, provides one-on-one instruction to Helios Scholars Wing Lam, Emina Grgic and David Ebertz.


TGen’s Helios Scholars Program is open to high school, undergraduate and graduate level students, including those in medical school.


“Our collaboration with the Helios Education Foundation is helping prepare a new generation of scientific investigators for Arizona,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen’s president and scientific director. “We enable them to explore the biosciences beyond the classroom, engaging their research skills through critical work in state-of-the-art laboratories.”


The internships help students from all backgrounds — selected from a competitive pool of applicants — sharpen their research skills as they prepare for careers in science and medicine.


“TGen’s cultivation of the scientific interests of these students is an investment in Arizona's future. We’re enhancing the skill sets they will need to succeed in today’s high-tech, knowledge-based economy," said Brandy Wells, TGen’s education and outreach specialist. “It is amazing what these students have been able to accomplish in such a short time."


TGen's past summer interns boast an array of impressive accomplishments, including publishing scientific abstracts and peer-reviewed articles, gaining acceptance into medical and graduate school and winning scholarships and prizes.


The application for next year’s Helios program opens in January 2013. For more information about TGen and the internship program, visit


Photo at top: Helios Scholar Danielle Dozer with Jenifer Kaplan, a TGen research associate


Story and photos courtesy of TGen

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