The Translational Genomics Research Institute received the largest corporate cash gift in its two-year history Monday.
The Arizona operations of Cox Communications presented a check for $3 million to the Tempe lab, which is attempting to find cures for genetically related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and autism. The gift also was the largest ever given to a nonprofit organization by Cox Arizona.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Gov. Janet Napolitano were among political leaders extolling the cutting-edge research work of the institute and urging other corporations to follow Cox.
McCain, who is chairman of the TGen Foundation’s National Advisory Council, predicted the institute will have as much impact on the Valley’s economy and way of life as the aviation investments of the U.S. military in World War II and the early postwar semiconductor research by Motorola.
The institute has attracted researchers from across the United States and foreign countries who are engaged in “a crusade to change the world — to find cures for the diseases which have been with us since the beginning of time,” he said.
Napolitano said the institute “has opened the eyes of the world to the potential of the Valley” and has already made the metro area an international leader in genomics research.
The purpose of the institute is to “translate” new discoveries in genetics into improved ways to diagnose and treat diseases that have a genetic basis.
Thanks to advances in genomics, biotechnology, imaging and computer science, physicians hope to tailor treatments more specifically to each individual patient’s genetic makeup, making the therapy more effective and allowing doctors to better predict how patients will respond.
The research effort is being led by Dr. Jeffery Trent, a world-renowned geneticist who is the institute’s president and scientific director.
The institute, which will move into a permanent $46 million headquarters in downtown Phoenix in December, has been a catalyst for other bioscience projects such as the Arizona BioDesign Institute at Arizona State University in Tempe and a new ASU-University of Arizona medical center in downtown Phoenix.
Cox Arizona regional manager Steve Rizley said the institute’s work fits with the company’s philosophy of charitable contributions that improve the lives of Arizona residents. “TGen gives us a chance to participate long term in people’s physical well-being,” he said. “What better thing can we do than that?”
As part of its gift, Cox produced a series of public service announcements that will appear on the cable system providing information about the institute and Valley patients it has helped.