TGen Provides Scientific Springboard for Helios Scholars

Posted on: July 30, 2010

Tomorrow's leaders in science and medicine graduated from one of the nation's most advanced summer internship programs at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The 44 interns in the Helios Scholars Program at TGen wrapped up eight weeks of biomedical investigations with a daylong symposium filled with discussions and scientific poster presentations at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

"TGen provides Helios Scholars with an invaluable hands-on experience into biomedical discovery, one that significantly jump-starts their research abilities and enhances a new generation of America's scientific investigators," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen's President and Research Director.

This is the fourth year of the planned 25-year program at TGen, which is funded through a $6.5 million grant from the Helios Education Foundation, the largest philanthropic foundation in Arizona focused solely on education.

"The Helios Scholars Program at TGen opens new doors for students into the world of the biosciences," said Helios Education Foundation President and CEO Paul Luna. "This innovative partnership with TGen not only helps students explore the biosciences, but it takes them beyond the classroom and into state of the art laboratories where they partner with TGen scientists to conduct independent scientific research on the genetic causes of certain diseases. That experience and exposure to the TGen scientists is invaluable to these students."

This innovative program allows high school, undergraduate and graduate level students, including those in medical school, to conduct independent scientific research affecting real-world patients.

Under the guidance of TGen's top-notch research investigators - who provide closely supervised, one-on-one instruction - Helios Scholars use cutting-edge technology to learn about the genetic causes of diseases such as melanoma, prostate cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

This innovative program helps students from all backgrounds sharpen their research skills as they prepare for careers in science or medical fields. Selected from a competitive pool of applicants - many at the top of their class - their backgrounds ranged from bioengineering to business to international studies.

"The beauty of this program is that students are immersed in the genuine essence of science," said Brandy Wells, TGen's Education and Outreach Specialist. "They work on the true frontier of research, actively practicing concepts such as the scientific method and experimental design, and seeking answers to the questions they themselves formulate. This journey into the unknown is what ultimately fuels their desire to pursue a career in the biosciences."

Past interns boast an array of impressive accomplishments, including published scientific abstracts and scientific papers, top national student rankings, acceptance into first-rate graduate and medical schools, and even Goldwater and Fulbright scholarships.

For more information about TGen or the internship program, visit

TGen will begin accepting online applications for next summer's Helios program in early 2011.

Category: College and Career Readiness

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