People and Places On The Move At The University of Arizona College of Medicine

People and Place on the Move at AHSC

UA College of Medicine `Spin-Out' Companies Garner Bioindustry Awards

Three companies with ties to The University of Arizona College of Medicine received Excellence in Bioscience Awards at the recent Arizona BioIndustry Association annual awards dinner.

  • AmpliMed Corporation won Bioscience Company of the Year. A Tucson-based developer of novel drugs for the treatment of cancer, AmpliMed was formed in 1989 by senior faculty members at the UA's Arizona Cancer Center.
  • DMetrix won Bioscience Startup Company of the Year. Founded in 2001 as a UA spin-out company, DMetrix has emerged as a leader in digital microscopy.
  • Ventana Medical Systems won Medical Device Company of the Year. The world's leading supplier of automated diagnostic systems to the anatomical pathology market, Ventana has grown from an idea by UA pathologist Thomas Grogan, MD, into a publicly traded global firm with 850 employees.

The Arizona Bioindustry Association is a statewide organization that promotes the growth of bioindustry in the areas of public policy, member services, education, business networking and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Paper Co-authored by UA College of Medicine Dean Cited as Landmark Article

A journal article co-authored by UA College of Medicine Dean Keith Joiner, MD, MPH, is "top of the charts" among scientist-reviewers of Faculty of 1000 Biology, an online research service that highlights and reviews the most interesting papers published in the biological sciences based on the recommendations of more than 1,000 leading researchers.

Faculty of 1000 Biology scored Dr. Joiner's article, titled "Toxoplasma Gondii Sequesters Lysosomes from Mammalian Hosts in the Vacuolar Space," an exceptional 10.1 -- designating it a landmark paper representing the top 1 percent of publications. The article appears in the April 2006 edition of Cell.

The article describes the long-sought mechanism by which theparasite toxoplasma gondii acquires nutrients from the host cell, and in particular cholesterol. The discovery opens the door for targeted drug treatments of the parasitic infection, and also provides new insights into the mechanisms by which human cells transport and store cholesterol. This has relevance to atherosclerotic vascular disease in humans, which results when cholesterol and other lipids are handled aberrantly by cells. Toxoplasma is the third-leading cause of U.S. food-related deaths behind Salmonella and Listeria, and is acquired primarily by ingestion of undercooked pork or lamb. Toxoplasmosis is a common cause of nervous system infections in AIDS patients or other individuals with compromised immune systems. The parasite also causes severe birth defects in infants born to mothers who acquire Toxoplasmosis during their pregnancy.

Dr. Marvin Slepian Honored as Distinguished Alumni

Marvin J. Slepian, MD, received one of three 2006 University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Awards for his significant contributions to the health field. Co-founder, chairman of the board and chief scientific officer of SynCardia Systems Inc., Dr. Slepian also is a professor of medicine (cardiology), director of interventional cardiology and director of the Tissue Engineering Lab at The University of Arizona.

Among his significant contributions to the medical field, Dr. Slepian was instrumental in the formation of SynCardia Systems Inc., maker of the CardioWest ™ Temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t).

The CardioWest ™ TAH-t completely replaces the blood-pumping function of the diseased heart. For patients with end-stage congestive heart failure at imminent risk of death, this device has proven to be a life-saver, allowing them to be "bridged" and supported until a human heart transplant can be performed.