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SPECIAL REPORT 2012

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Ventana Medical Systems 2 5 Ye a r s o f I n n o v a t i o n

Founder: Dr. Thomas Grogan


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SPECIAL REPORT Cancer – it’s a word we all dread. A disease that once was a virtual death sentence is now more manageable and sometimes even curable. Critical in the fight against cancer is fast and accurate diagnosis, – and that is what Ventana Medical Systems is all about. Tucson’s own Dr. Thomas Grogan pioneered life-saving cancer diagnostics at Ventana that are used in 91 countries today. The University of Arizona pathology professor and Ventana Medical Systems founder is a transformational figure in the history of our region – with three of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world maintaining a presence in Tucson. Dr. Grogan’s technology has improved the lives of millions of people with cancer, including Cathy Gawronski and Stephen Jones, two of Ventana Medical Systems’ own. Grogan’s technology was used to quickly diagnose and precisely treat these two survivors. This is what Ventana Medical Systems brings to our community and the world. The central focus for the Fall 2012 BizTucson edition is “Conquering Cancer” – an in-depth special report on this company’s first 25 years of accomplishments, as well as a look at what lies ahead. Journalists David B. Pittman, Romi Carrell Wittman, Gabrielle Fimbres, Eric Swedlund and Donna Kreutz have done an exceptional job reporting the milestone achievements of this team of global health care visionaries. Meet Dr. Grogan, the iconic founder, and other researchers who are pushNote to readers: Look closely at the bottom banner across each page of this special section. These are “cancer stains” – magnified images of what cancer researchers view every day in their fight against cancer.

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photo by: Steven Meckler

Conquering Cancer

ing the frontiers of science. Look to the next 25 years with Mara Aspinall, the visionary president of this global giant with annual revenues of $600 million. The company that Grogan started in a garage was acquired by Swiss-based Roche in 2008 for $3.4 billion. With Ventana developing personalized diagnostic technology and Roche producing the treatments that target specific cancers, this is a modern day miracle of science. This region’s expanding biotech industry has the potential to become a game-changing pillar of prosperity. We have more than 120 small bioscience companies in the region. This is a rapidly growing and vitally important clean industry that offers high-wage jobs, with Ventana at its core. Dr. Ray Woosley, president emeritus at Critical Path Institute, predicts Ventana Medical Systems could be the next Raytheon. Congratulations, Ventana Medical Systems. We look forward to your next 25 years of innovation. Steven E. Rosenberg Publisher & Owner BizTucson

BizTucson is published quarterly by Rosenberg Media, LLC. © 2012. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in columns or articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. About the Special Report Cover: By Creative Director Brent G. Mathis, Photos by Chris Mooney and courtesy of Ventana Medical Systems.

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Conquering

Ventana Medical Systems’ First A lump, a biopsy, a diagnosis. The fight against cancer starts with a test, the critical first step in the battle against the devastating disease that – in one way or another – touches us all. A precise diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. Leading the effort to improve diagnostics and patient care for people around the globe is Ventana Medical Systems, a pioneer in providing physicians with the tools to more effectively diagnose and combat cancer. In business for 25 years, the Tucson bioscience giant has one goal – to improve the lives of all patients afflicted with cancer. And now with the backing of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, which

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purchased the locally-grown startup in 2008 for $3.4 billion, Ventana truly is global. Last year, Ventana products were used in the care of as many as 8 million patients in 91 countries. Armed with state-of-the-art, tissue-based diagnostic tools, the company today is raising the standard of patient care through digital pathology and workflow automation. The scientific team at Ventana has created more innovations and been granted more patents than any other pathology or laboratory company globally. It all comes back to the lofty 10-word mission statement crafted when the company incorporated in 1987: “To improve the lives of all patients afflicted

with cancer.” “Our mission is so unique and powerful, I believe every one of our employees knows why we are here,” said Ventana President Mara Aspinall. “We are a business and we have a responsibility to the business – but our fundamental reason for getting up in the morning is to make a difference in the lives of the patients that depend on us.” Ventana’s impact on personalized medicine and the growth of a biosciences cluster in Tucson cannot be overstated, said Harry George, a venture capitalist who has invested in 44 earlystage life science, information technology and clean-tech companies though his Solstice Capital. “Ventana Medical Systems puts Tuc-

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25 Years of Innovation son on the bioscience map nationally and internationally,’’ George said. “It has been nothing short of transformational for Tucson.’’ The man behind the technology is Ventana founder Dr. Thomas Grogan, a University of Arizona pathologist, researcher and world-renown expert in lymphoma. For 25 years, his vision, uncommon character and resolve have permeated this company that he started in a garage. Grogan pioneered the automation and standardization of tissue biopsy testing – a life-saving discovery that has resulted in speedier, more accurate and greatly expanded cancer testing. But Grogan didn’t stop there. Knowing that body tissue contains a wealth of

information that is vital beyond cancer diagnosis, he expanded his objective to research the chemistry of cancer biopsies. In the process, he and Ventana have enabled physicians to personalize cancer diagnosis and treatment options for individual cancer patients. “There’s something here that’s very special. It’s a level of engagement and passion that we are on this shared mission to improve the lives of all patients afflicted with cancer,” said Dr. Eric Walk, who succeeded Grogan as Ventana’s chief medical officer. “When you speak to people who visit us, even from other parts of Roche, they immediately recognize the energy and the buzz. “Even though we have competitors,

By David B. Pittman

it’s my view that we’re unique in our industry,’’ Walk continued. “Yes, we’re a diagnostic company – but we’re the only company that really has a vested interest and is passionate about driving the future of the field of pathology through innovations in diagnostics that will lead to changes in the practice of medicine and real changes in how patients are treated.’’ That spirit of innovation is spurring growth in the biosciences industry in Tucson, said Leslie Tolbert, UA senior VP for research. “Having Ventana here … helps to make the science environment bigger and stronger and more prominent,’’ Tolbert said. “It has created a special zing around the biosciences here. continued on page 86 >>> Fall 2012 > > > BizTucson 85


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BizBIOSCIENCE continued from page 87 growth arrow pointing upward ever since. “We went public the old-fashioned way,” said Grogan. “After we made money and showed we could operate profitably, we were allowed to go public. In those days, that was the way it was done.” Ventana stock was initially offered in June 1996 at $10 per share, which was the start of an amazing run in which Ventana never fell below market expectations in any quarter over the next dozen years. Grogan never regretted that Ventana went public. “If you are going to change hospital practice and the practice of medicine, the denominator of capital that you need is in the hundreds of millions of dollars,’’ he said. “How could you start in a garage off of Grant Road and become a global company without raising capital? And where else are you going to get $100 or $200 million? I happen to be very positive about Wall Street because of its old-fashioned mode of supplying capital for ideas like this. That’s when Wall Street is brilliant.” In 1997, Ventana sold 500 systems. In 1999, the company, which long ago had established locations in Europe, opened offices in Japan and the Asian Pacific. Virtually every year, Ventana improved its medical devices, introduced new models or came up with new products. In 2000, the rapidly growing company purchased land in Oro Valley where it began construction of its modern campus. In 2001, Ventana moved into its new home at Innovation Park, which originally included 182,000 square feet in four buildings. Ventana experienced huge change in 2008. Three more buildings were constructed at the Oro Valley campus, bringing it to its current size of 360,000 square feet in seven buildings. Next, Ventana was purchased by Roche for $3.4 billion. Grogan was among the majority of Ventana board members who favored the Roche buyout offer because Roche gives the company a significantly greater global footprint and the capital required to speed growth. 88 BizTucson

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In late 2010, Ventana announced it would add 500 workers and embark on a $184 million capital investment plan for new buildings and equipment at its headquarters at Innovation Park. The planned expansion translates into an economic impact of $640 million over 10 years for the region, reflecting a ripple effect of jobs, capital investment and increased productivity. Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, the Town of Oro Valley, Pima County and the State of Arizona provided a $12.2 million economic development incentive package to ensure the Ventana/Roche expansion occurred in Oro Valley.

The technology and approach at Ventana could go forever. Now with the backing of Roche, I think it could be as big as Raytheon one day.

– Dr. Ray Woosley President Emeritus Critical Path Institute

The deal includes $8.2 million in property tax reduction from Pima County, $3 million from the state that came from federal stimulus funds and a rebate of up to $1 million in infrastructure impact fees from Oro Valley. George, of Solstice Capital, said Roche could have chosen to pull Ventana from Tucson. “When a company gets started in Tucson, as the company grows and goes public and often gets acquired, there is always a risk that when it gets acquired we will lose it, as we did with BurrBrown,’’ he said. “It is a great success that it has grown, it has gotten to this

scale and that it is planning to continue to grow in Tucson. “You really couldn’t overstate the impact that Ventana has and will have on Tucson’s knowledge-based economy, and especially the biotech sector,’’ George added. “It’s the single most important influence.’’ After the flurry of planned expansion is complete, Grogan said more will come. He said Ventana “is only 1/20th” of what it will eventually be. “In 2011, our products were used to run 32 million assays, or tests, in more than 90 countries,” said Grogan. “It usually takes four tests per patient, that’s the norm. So that means we were involved in the care of 8 million patients. But that’s a drop in the bucket. We want to be in every country in the world, and our big brother Roche is going to help get us there.’’ Aspinall, who became Ventana president in 2011, believes the next decade will bring tremendous change. “In 10 years, I believe every patient’s tissue sample will be digitized so it can be viewed and shared across one health system or across the world by experts in a specific cancer,’’ Aspinall said. “It will also reduce health care costs and provide more specific and faster diagnosis – which will save lives.’’ Aspinall does not believe a single miraculous cure for cancer is coming. Instead, she believes improved diagnostics and therapies may transform cancer from a potential death sentence to a chronic disease. “Given the diversity of the cancer challenge, I don’t believe there will be a one-size-fits-all solution. I believe it is all about diagnostics on day one, and day 30, and day 60, and day 90, and throughout the patient’s treatment and fight against cancer.’’ Ventana is poised to develop the technology to conquer some forms of cancer, and make others manageable. “We think big and out of the box,’’ Aspinall said. “We have earned the right, through our large size, to create new opportunities and push the edge of the envelope.’’ Reporter Eric Swedlund contributed to this report.

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Q&A with Ventana Medical Systems’

Mara Aspinall By Romi Carrell Wittman

Ventana at 25: Revolutionizing Cancer Diagnostics

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

What did you do when you turned 25? Maybe you went out to dinner with friends. Maybe you noticed your car insurance premiums went down. Maybe you felt like you were finally an adult. But what does 25 mean to a company? More specifically, what does it mean for a company that, in a 25 year span, went from a tiny start-up to a global behemoth that has revolutionized the field of cancer diagnostics?

Ventana Medical Systems is about to find out. Founded by University of Arizona pathologist Dr. Thomas Grogan in 1987, the company has exploded in growth and today employs more than 1,200 people locally. As it looks ahead to the next 25 years, it’s poised to further revolutionize cancer diagnostics and treatment.

As Ventana celebrates this quartercentury milestone, BizTucson wanted to get Ventana President Mara Aspinall’s take on where the company has been, as well as where it’s headed. We also wanted to hear her thoughts on Tucson and its budding biosciences sector. BizTucson, along with several biosciences leaders, posed the following questions:

BizTucson: What is Ventana’s greatest achievement over the past 25 years? What are you most proud of ?

Leslie Tolbert, University of Arizona Senior VP for Research: What novel products do you imagine Ventana Medical Systems might be making and marketing in 2022? 2032?

Aspinall: We are most proud of transforming the pathology laboratory, bringing automation to cancer diagnostics, increasing patient safety and introducing revolutionary new tests that allow physicians to do specific tumor profile analysis. In the past five years we’ve taken transformation to a new level. We’ve applied it to the area of digital pathology and workflow automation. It’s not just automating the processes occurring in the labs, but we’re now using this new technology to give pathologists even greater ability to analyze samples for patients. Twenty-five years ago pathology was dependent on the individual skill of the technologist and pathologist, and you saw tremendous variability. Today, our automation and quality systems – with our customers’ knowledge base – have enabled labs to produce consistent, reliable results. This has had a huge impact in raising the standard of patient care. Overall, we are proud to live our mission to improve the lives of all patients afflicted with cancer and to have become the world’s leading developer and manufacturer of tissue-based diagnostic instruments and tests for the detection of cancer.

Aspinall: I love looking out 10 and 20 years. We have 244 biomarkers today that help physicians differentiate between one sub-type of cancer and another. I see that number doubling in the next decades as more biomarkers are developed that allow us to subdivide cancer into more relevant and more patient-focused segments. Secondly, we will see Ventana revolutionize the pathology lab again through digital pathology. In 10 years, I believe every patient’s tissue sample will be digitized so it can be viewed and shared across one health system or across the world by experts in a specific cancer. This is just the beginning – our technology supported by automated analysis will perform detailed and complex analysis of an individual patient’s case to ensure that pathologists have the best data to help them advise oncologists to make the best treatment decisions. It will also reduce health care costs and provide more specific and faster diagnosis – which will save lives. continued on page 92 >>>

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BizBIOSCIENCE

Diagnostics can be and should be the core of bioscience expansion in Southern Arizona.

Mara Aspinall

President, Ventana Medical Systems continued on page 84 >>> Fall 2012 > > > BizTucson 91


BizBIOSCIENCE Ventana Medical Systems & Roche By the Numbers

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Ventana Medical Systems Founded in 1987 by Dr. Thomas Grogan, professor of pathology at the University of Arizona

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25 years of commitment and innovation to improving the lives of patients with cancer

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6,000+ systems installed in more than 3,000 labs worldwide More than 244 diagnostic tests – world’s largest ready-to-use menu of antibody products

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Ventana products sold in 91 countries

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229 worldwide patents granted, plus 292 worldwide patents pending

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1,500+ employees in the U.S., with more than 1,200 in Tucson

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275+ scientists, engineers and physicians

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Research and development, manufacturing, marketing, sales, business development and other operations at Tucson headquarters

Revenue over $600 million with robust annual growth of more than 15 percent

300+ employees in 34 countries outside the U.S.

Four acquisitions in three years to expand product portfolio

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Roche

Founded in 1896 in Basel, Switzerland World’s largest biotech company with top ranking in the global in-vitro diagnostics market

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80,000+ employees in 150 countries across all continents

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2011 sales – 42.5 billion Swiss francs or about $43.6 billion

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2011 research and development spending – 8.1 billion Swiss francs or $8.3 billion Source: Ventana Medical Systems

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continued from page 90 You’ll also see Ventana continue to expand its international market reach. Our commitment to cancer patients is global. Cancer knows no boundaries, and our resolve to fight it does not stop in the United States. Roche has enabled us to sell our products in 91 countries today. Joan Koerber-Walker, Arizona Bioindustry Association CEO: Medicine is changing through a new generation of diagnostics from being reactive to proactive. How is Ventana leading this change? Aspinall: Ventana is changing medicine in two ways. First, our exceptional scientific team has created more innovations and been granted more patents than any other pathology or laboratory company in the world. Second, we’re changing the paradigm for patients. We are enabling personalized medicine. Cancer patients have always been treated based on where their cancer first appears. So lung cancer patients are treated by lung cancer experts. Colon cancer patients are treated by colon cancer experts. I believe that to go from reactive to proactive, we will have to change that paradigm. In the future, patients will be diagnosed and treated by the biological mechanisms that are currently and potentially active in their particular disease – revealed by relevant biomarkers – that have caused the cancer. So your surgeon will know whether your tumor is in your lung or your colon, but your oncologist will treat you based on what gene or protein is driving your cancer. That is the foundation of what Tom Grogan created here. BizTucson: What do you see as Ventana’s biggest impact on the community? Aspinall: Skilled and attractive jobs for the Tucson region. That clearly translates to a positive economic impact, directly or indirectly through our many employees and their families. Something I’m really proud of is our support of the local community. Whether it’s our work on math and science education, our employees volunteering in schools, or Ventana’s Young Scientist’s Day where high school kids come here, wear a lab coat and experience our technology side by side with our scientists in the lab. We also give directly to commu-

nity causes. Last year we hosted the Couture for Cancer, a fundraiser for Diamond Children’s Medical Center. We’re very proud to give back – it is our responsibility to the community. ‘To whom much has been given, much is expected.’ ” We’ve had the privilege of growing a business and we want to ensure that it helps our surrounding community. Koerber-Walker: For 25 years, Ventana has been a leader in the Arizona bioscience community and a prime example of a company that was born here and grew here. What does our state need to do to bring more Ventanas to life? Aspinall: Arizona has to continue to be an easy place to do business, and the regulatory and tax burden must be at least competitive, if not better than neighboring states. We also need Arizona to be a great place to live. To do so we must ensure we have a world-class education system that is attractive to the highly talented parents who consider a job in Tucson. This is a personal passion of mine. We have some great schools here – public, private and charter – but we need to ensure that all of our public schools, from pre-K through high school, are truly excellent. In order to do that, we need open and cooperative communication between the schools, government and business to work together to improve the schools. We need to recruit the best teachers and ensure they’re happy here and continue to grow. Our biggest asset is our knowledgeand skill-based intellectual community – we must continually improve our strong statewide university system. We need to ensure that we attract the best students at the undergraduate level and at the graduate level. We can do that by expanding world-class research in the sciences and by making sure that Arizona’s university programs are second to none. Several of those stars exist today – information science, optics, physics, engineering and basic biomedical sciences. Lastly, we need a technology transfer system that can take the innovations that happen at the universities and ensure there is a mutually profitable and expedient way to get those innovations into the private sector. It is really hard to build a new business, and great ideas from great universities are just a starting point. It takes enormous concerted effort and cooperation to bring them to the clinic so they can be utilized by patients.

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Ronald Shoopman Southern Arizona Leadership Council President: The Bioscience Leadership Council of Southern Arizona and the Flinn Foundation have worked hard over the last decade to support the growth and development of bioscience in our region. How important has that effort been? Aspinall: This work has been critical and great progress has been made over the last decade implementing Arizona’s biosciences roadmap, bringing us to a higher level of national competitiveness. We need to ensure this work continues and accelerates. Let me give you some numbers: From 2002 to 2012, bioscience jobs increased here by 41 percent, adding nearly 8,000 jobs. National Institute of Health funding in Arizona grew faster than the top 10 funded states. We grew NIH funding 25 percent during that time, which is truly extraordinary. Tolbert: What do you envision as essential components of a successful innovation ecosystem? Aspinall: There are three components. Number one, a strong private sector – companies and investors. Two, a strong intellectual community with universities at its center with a willingness to out-license technology. Three, a strong infrastructure with a www.BizTucson.com

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

BizTucson: DxInsights was recently announced. Tell us more about that. Aspinall: Co-located in Tucson and Boston, DxInsights is an independent, nonprofit, non–partisan, non-lobbying group dedicated to improving the level of knowledge about diagnostics. It’s not about one type of diagnostics vs. another – it’s about educating on the power that comes from accurate test results. Diagnostics has been around forever. But over the last 20 years, diagnostics has been radically transformed from a sector that performed critical, but relatively basic, single analyte tests. Today it’s an industry that still includes those important tests, but has expanded to look at proteins, genes and other markers, giving physicians a far more nuanced and sophisticated look at disease. Diagnostics has been undervalued in part because many in the health care industry do not understand the current power of diagnostics. DxInsights will bring that education to bear through a website with all things diagnostics, informational events for health care stakeholders and industry-wide research that no one company or lab could undertake on its own. BizTucson: What is unique about Ventana? Aspinall: Ventana is a center for innovation. It’s a place where risk taking flourishes. While we have customers who depend on our current products and services day in and day out, we’re still a place that can take risks by trying new things. We think big and out of the box. We have earned the right, through our large size, to create new opportunities and push the edge of the envelope in a way that you can’t do when you’re a small company. It’s all made possible by a tremendously passionate and dedicated group of employees who come to work every day to make a difference. Cancer is everyone’s number one fear. You remember where you were in the happiest moments of your life and the saddest ones. Often cancer is that saddest moment. At Ventana, we give people the confidence their diagnosis is as accurate and precise as humanly possible. It’s what drives us.

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PHOTO: COURTESY VENTANA MEDICAL SYSTEMS

Aspinall: I believe that diagnostics can be and should be the core of bioscience expansion in Southern Arizona. The infrastructure necessary for diagnostics is well suited to our community. The capital necessary to create and grow a diagnostics company is far less than any other type of health care investment, in addition the relative risk for diagnostics is much lower than for other investments in the health care industry. With Ventana and the other companies located here, we have a talent pool that is knowledgeable in the sector. Yes – there are many synergies between the science sectors that will only expand as technologies become more complex and integrative.

deep talent pool and innovation-friendly local and state government.

PHOTO: COURTESY VENTANA MEDICAL SYSTEMS

Dr. Raymond Woolsey Critical Path Institute Founder: Should diagnostics be the highest priority for the region’s focus on bioscience? Could the aerospace, optics and diagnostics programs be synergistic?

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Ventana Medical Systems’

Renaissance Man

Photo: BalfourWalker.com

By David B. Pittman In a crowded lab at the University of Arizona in 1979, Dr. Thomas Grogan saw the need to change the world of cancer diagnostics, and decided he was the man to do it. That realization led Grogan to start Ventana Medical Systems, where he has saved lives around the globe through a more precise system of diagnosing – and ultimately treating – people with cancer. A year earlier, when Grogan was at Stanford University, monoclonal antibodies were first made available to probe proteins in the human body. That advancement opened a new world to Grogan. “All of the sudden, when you put a little dye on those antibodies you could see where they went, and if you cut a slice of tissue you could look at that breast cancer and say, ‘Hey, I’m seeing estrogen receptors,’ ” Grogan said. “Then when you told that to the oncologist, he would say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a drug for that.’ ” It wasn’t long before all the doctors treating cancer patients at what was then University Medical Center were asking Grogan to perform tissue biopsy testing on all of their patients. But that was impossible because each process took five days to complete. Grogan quickly realized the process needed to be done on every patient. Asked if anyone had ever thought of that before, Grogan responded: “Well, I hap94 BizTucson

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pened to have been first in that matter.” It was the first of many discoveries as Grogan built Ventana Medical Systems from a garage startup into a world leader and innovator of tissue-based diagnostic solutions that was acquired by Roche four years ago. Since those early days in his lab, Grogan has transformed medical science and cancer treatment and saved millions of lives. Grogan did this by transforming cancer diagnostic testing procedures that had to be performed in a laboratory by hand, and sometimes took weeks to complete, into a quick, automated process. “The discoveries Dr. Grogan and a number of people here at Ventana have made are foundational in nature,” said Ventana VP Doug Ward, who is lifecycle leader of companion diagnostics. “Ventana is the shadow of Tom Grogan. We’ve been successful because of Tom and the brilliant people he has surrounded himself with, people who get things done and aren’t afraid to take risks and learn from those things and keep bringing better and better solutions to cancer diagnostics.” Grogan’s story begins in 1945, when he was born just outside of Boston in Amesbury, Mass. His father, a Navy veteran of World War II, later had a career in the U.S. Foreign Service, which took Grogan and his family to such countries as Cyprus, Liberia and Germany. Gro-

gan attended high school in Frankfurt. Always a good student, Grogan loved science, particularly biology. By the time he was 12, he knew he would be a medical doctor. He said his mother, a registered nurse who later became a librarian, worried he was “too bookish,” although he ran track and played quarterback on his high school football team, which one year was crowned European champions. Grogan left Germany to attend the University of Virginia, and later George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., where he earned his medical degree. A pathologist, Grogan did post-graduate work at Stanford before coming to the UA in 1979 to do medical research, practice medicine at what is now University of Arizona Medical Center and the UA Cancer Center, and to teach medical students. Grogan was recruited to UA by Dr. Jack Layton, a professor and head of the Department of Pathology at the UA College of Medicine. “Jack said if I came here he would pay for a lab for me,” Grogan recalled. “That was pretty unusual in those days.” It was in that lab that Grogan started jotting notes on a yellow note pad, notes that would lead to automated cancer diagnostic testing. The process he emulated was similar to the shift from developing film by hand in a darkroom to automated film development. continued on page 96 >>>

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BizBIOSCIENCE

Tom Grogan knew he wanted to change the practice of pathology to have a better impact on patient outcomes and it took a lot of hard work. It gives a human face to what can happen with perseverance.

– LeslieTolbert UA Senior VP for Research

Dr. Thomas Grogan

Founder, Ventana Medical Systems

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BizBIOSCIENCE continued from page 94

$89.50 per share, or about $3.4 billion, transparent and the university received to acquire Ventana. an equity position in the company. It was “Back in those days, you didn’t do After receiving legislative approval to among Barr’s final accomplishments in PowerPoints, you did Kodak film,” Grostart his company, Grogan embarked office. Following the 1984 regular sesgan explained. “So, I talked to some guys on what he said proved to be his most sion of the legislature, Barr was upset in in a photo lab and got them to take the difficult accomplishment – raising the the Republican primary for governor by top off of an automatic film processor. investment capital needed to get Ventana Evan Mecham. Barr never held elected It occurred to me that what we were dooff the ground. office again. ing by hand had similarities to that. The As a result of the bill, UA received In 1987 and 1988, Grogan was repiece of glass we put the slice of tissue 100,000 shares of Ventana Medical Sysjected 35 consecutive times by venture on was like a piece of film. So then the tems. However, because of sour business capital firms. It wasn’t until his 36th question became, how do you develop dealings that did not involve Ventana, pitch that Grogan hit pay dirt and found the film?” UA officials decided to sell all university a firm, Crabtree Ventures, willing to Having come from Stanford, Grogan private business holdings in the midplunk money down on his visionary busibelieved the development of his discov1990s. UA’s Ventana shares were sold ness plan. The leaders of Crabtree Venery should be done in the same fashion for $2 per share. In 2008, Roche paid tures, John Patience and Jack Schuler, as a technology enconvinced a firm terprise started by that had previously a couple of graduturned Grogan ate students named down to reconsider Hewlett and Packand back the effort. ard at the Bay Area In the first investschool. ment round, the In 1984, Grogan two venture groups received a business provided $5 million license, but before to Ventana. he could get started “But remember, it on his venture he was many years bewas ordered to cease fore we started makand desist from his ing money,” said entrepreneurial acGrogan. “Those tivities by the univertwo kept putting up sity attorney. PHOTO: COURTESY VENTANA MEDICAL SYSTEMS money. Altogether, At this time there were those who Ventana Medical Systems leadership rings the NASDAQ bell at initial public offering in 1996. they provided half of the $100 million were highly critical of equity investment we needed before we Grogan, describing him as a “wheelerbecame profitable.” dealer, get-rich-quick 1980s scam artist.” Ventana got up and running from a Grogan chuckles at the characterization, structure that consisted of a small office saying it took him 12 years before his inand garage located just off Grant Road, vestment in Ventana moved from the red just a pitching wedge east of Interstate and into the black. He said his goals were 10. always altruistic: To better medical prac “That’s where we built the prototype,” tices and patient care. said Grogan. “By then I had found some Despite the criticism, Layton and othother risk-takers to join me.’’ The first ers at the university were in Grogan’s of those was Ross Humphreys, who was corner. They took him to see then-UA Ventana’s first president and CEO. President Henry Koffler, who believed Grogan and Humphreys brought in a advanced research and product develhandful of chemists, engineers and docopment should come from universities. tors that made up the original team that Koffler took the matter to the Arizona developed the initial medical devices. Board of Regents, who had legislation The number of employees grew quickly prepared governing start-up companies as the company began manufacturing at universities. The proposal was handed products in 1991. off to the last true political boss at the In 1993, after the company had outArizona Capitol, House Speaker Burton grown the garage and moved to a facilBarr. ity near I-10 and Prince Road, Grogan – Dr. Ray Woosley Barr quietly pushed through the legiswas particularly dejected following a President Emeritus lation, which allowed professors to work board meeting in which more losses in private-sector firms spun off from Critical Path Institute were reported. However, after that meettheir research, provided all business was

Grogan is a renaissance man who had the foresight to change the practice of medicine, and in the process save the lives of millions of people.

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ing, Grogan was cheered by one of the investors – Jack Schuler, formaly CEO of Abbott Laboratories – who threw an arm around Grogan and expressed confidence that Ventana was on the right path. The optimism of that investor was based on the fact that Ventana had sold an instrument to the Cleveland Clinic. Ventana officials were certain if patient results at the Cleveland Clinic were positive, it would provide proof to doctors and hospitals everywhere of the success that could be achieved by the breakthrough. “So we did everything possible to achieve success at the Cleveland Clinic,” recalled Grogan. “We had two guys – one of them is still working for us, Mike DeGroff – who actually slept right in the Cleveland Clinic lab. Within a year, we had completely transformed that lab and they were buying more instruments and doing everything by our method.” The results at the Cleveland Clinic were phenomenal and Ventana was soon selling its systems to hospitals and research facilities not only in the United States, but in foreign countries as well. In 1995, Ventana had its first profitable year. In 1996, Ventana went public, selling shares on the NASDAQ under the symbol VMSI. That began an amazing run in which the company met market expectations every quarter for 12 consecutive years. During those years, Grogan oversaw the development of new and improved products and took part in the company’s move to Innovation Park in Oro Valley. While at Ventana is continuing to grow, the 67-year-old Grogan is beginning to slow down. “The lab I started, my successor now runs. I still participate in lab meetings and look at some of the biopsies. I retired from the practice of medicine. I am now a professor emeritus – doing less playing and more coaching.” Grogan’s titles at Ventana now are founder and senior scientific advisor to the company’s president. Grogan also runs a mentoring program for promising young doctors, scientists and researchers at Ventana. “I don’t work full time now, but I do work on specific projects. There are two of them, the next two inventions, that are near and dear to my heart,”

Grogan said. “I have gone to grandfather status, which is good work if you can get it. In that mode, I can probably go a long time without retiring.” Although Grogan is world famous in scientific and medical circles, he has had only one celebrity experience while carrying on everyday activities in Tucson. “It was about 10 years ago and I was buying tennis shoes at Tucson Mall,” Grogan recalled. “I laid my credit card on the counter and this teen-aged kid takes my card and asks, ‘Are you Tom Grogan?’ “I answered, ‘Yes.’ “He asked, ‘The Tom Grogan?’ “I answered, ‘Possibly, why do you want to know?’ “And he said, ‘Because I own shares in Ventana.’ ” Grogan said his wife, Cande Grogan, is better known and treated more as a celebrity than he because she co-founded Café Terra Cotta and was the founder of Ovens, a pair of popular Tucson restaurants. “People frequently walk up to my wife and ask for the recipe for Thai Chicken Pasta or some other dish,” he said. The Grogans are active in philanthropy. Grogan’s causes are the UA Cancer Center and College of Science. Among his wife’s charities is the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona. Grogan and his wife have two children, Andrew, a geographer at General Dynamics, and Emily, an actress. He enjoys spending time with his grandkids, and encourages them to doodle – not unlike those legal pad doodles that started it all more than three decades ago. Biz Reporter Eric Swedlund contributed to this report.

www.BizTucson.com

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Grogan’s earliest sketches and notes resulted in ground-breaking diagnostics technology. These sketches are displayed in the hallways of Ventana’s medical innovation building.

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BizBIOSCIENCE Dr. Eric Walk

Fueled by Passion for Patient Care

Chief Medical Officer Ventana Medical Systems

Photo: BalfourWalker.com

By Eric Swedlund

www.BizTucson.com

Dr. Eric Walk’s career has hinged on some good advice and good fortune. As chief medical officer at Ventana Medical Systems, Walk brings his pathology training and his strong background in drug development and molecular biology – a perfect fit for a leading diagnostics company eying the future of personalized medicine. Walk’s father – an obstetrician-gynecologist who’s still practicing at age 75 – encouraged him to find his true calling and pursue a career in which he could be 110 percent engaged. And that is exactly what he has found at Ventana. “My father always told me that no matter what you do in life, make sure you’re passionate about it. You should do something that you enjoy so much it doesn’t even seem like work,” Walk said. “It’s the single piece of advice that’s always stuck with me.” As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, Walk found that medicine was his calling. “When I applied for medical school, I remember distinctly my personal statement, writing, somewhat naively, that my goal was to make a lasting impact on the field of medicine,” he said. “That was a motivating factor for me to do what I was passionate about in medicine, which is pathology, but also through pathology to make an impact on how patients are cared for. That nicely ties to what I do here at Ventana.” Walk wanted to combine clinical medicine with the strong interest in molecular biology he developed at Johns Hopkins. His studies there coincided with breakthroughs scientists made in the late 1980s in terms of understanding the circuitry of cancer cells. “Pathology, in contrast to other medical specialties, is about the study of disease itself and the mechanisms underlying disease. Your job is to fundamentally understand what disease is, what makes disease processes like cancer tick. That really resonated with me,” he said. After graduating from the University of Virginia Medical School in 1995, Walk went into pathology. He’d receive specimens from the operating room and examine them under the microscope to find the diagnosis. But after a couple years in private practice, the day-to-day hospital practice of pathology wasn’t fulfilling. He kept up on breakthroughs in genetic research and was intrigued by differences he saw in how patients with seemingly identical cancers responded to treatment differently. “The molecular piece, back when I was first practicing pathology, really wasn’t part of the field,” he said. “I began to wonder what makes certain continued on page 100 >>> Fall 2012 > > > BizTucson 99


BizBIOSCIENCE

Understanding Cancer By Eric Swedlund “The one-drug-fits-all model is essentially gone and we now are more intelligently thinking about molecular subtypes of cancer and how they differentially respond to therapies,” says Dr. Eric Walk. The chief medical officer for Ventana Medical Systems said that places the company’s diagnostic capabilities at the forefront of future cancer treatments. “We know now that cancer is not one type of disease, even within an anatomical category. Within breast cancer, there may be a dozen or more molecular diseases and the same is probably true in other cancers,” he said. “Our challenge now is to figure out, using diagnostics, how to profile cancer patients and to understand what is making those cancers tick, what are the driver mutations in these cancers that underlie their growth and their aggressiveness.’’ Once the cells are profiled, the right cancer drugs can be administered. The approach faces several challenges looking to the future, including a growing understanding of the complexity of cancer growth and the possibility of acquired resistance. Some of the most promising targeted therapies have proven to be initially successful in selected patients, but over time, and it can be as little as six months, the tumors grow back. “What we’re learning is even though we’re successfully killing the population of cells that the drug was designed against, the tumor is ‘smart’ enough to not have all its cells be genetically the same,” Walk said. “If 80 percent of a tumor is driven by a gene that you’re targeting with a specific therapy then you’ll kill that 80 percent and the tumor will shrink, but you 100 BizTucson

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have 20 percent left that’s driven by a different gene and that tumor clone will grow and eventually be the same size or larger than what you started with.” One potential solution is not using just one drug, but using a selected combination approach based on the cancer’s profile. It’s an unproven hypothesis being explored now. “That’s why you come back to diagnostics. Our challenge is to build a portfolio of assays that can profile these different tumors and help oncologists identify which tumors need which drug combination,” Walk said. “It only strengthens the value of diagnostics.” Another question challenges the assumption that groups cancers and treatments according to where they are in the body. “We know now that not all breast cancers are the same, but could it be that certain breast cancers, colon cancers, pancreatic cancers and brain cancers – even though they come from different anatomic sites – share a molecular profile? Maybe instead of being focused on diseases, we need to be focused on these gene profiles.” Ventana is also concerned with the implications of ongoing diagnostics throughout treatment, adapting the therapy based on the evolving profile of cancer’s mutating cells. “It’s great to be in the diagnostic industry as personalized health care continues to evolve because we can look out across different therapeutic modalities and the different drugs that emerge and stay focused on developing solutions that can be used to combine drugs or show which drugs are better than others,” Walk said. “It’s a true revolution in the fight against cancer and I’m tremendously excited to be part of it.”

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continued from page 99 cancer cells different at a molecular level when at the microscopic level they looked the same. I wanted to investigate these sorts of questions.” Fate intervened in 2002 with a call from a headhunter with an unusual job offer. Novartis Oncology was looking for a pathologist to be a part of a new group in translational medicine. The term was new to Walk – he had to Google it after the phone call – but it has been at the core of his career since. “It’s the concept of going from the research bench to the bedside,” he said. “What it means is taking research from the lab and applying those learnings to clinical patients, translating those discoveries into applications. In reality the cycle continues because what we learn in patients is then the basis for continued bench research. “In a single interview conversation with a VP at Novartis, I instantly knew that’s what I needed to do. It was a visceral sort of feeling. I had to do it, because of what my father always told me, but also because it was clear to me that it would allow me to do what I sought out to do in medical school – to make a long lasting impact in medicine,” he said. Walk joined a multidisciplinary team of researchers and drug developers tasked with creating a new portfolio of targeted drugs, very different from traditional chemotherapy. Novartis’ success with the drug Gleevec in treating chronic myeloid leukemia and later gastrointestinal stromal tumor represented a tantalizing leap into new possibilities for Walk. At Novartis, Walk was part of a team pioneering a new concept known as companion diagnostics, using targeted testing to identify patients who would respond to the drugs. “When I was at Novartis working on all these drugs, we needed to develop diagnostics. It was my job to find a diagnostic partner that was high quality and strategically aligned with this new philosophy of translational medicine and personalized health care. I very quickly found Ventana,” Walk said. “During that time I was a customer of Ventana and would fly to Tucson to review assays and slides, providing feedback on the development of new tests.

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technology and develop into a robust diagnostic that can be used by pathologists around the world to provide critical cancer information.” One of the most profound implications of the emerging personalized health care model is in how crucial the diagnosis becomes. Having the highest quality, most accurate diagnostic tools in a standardized format that can be run routinely around the world is critical. “Our challenge is to do that with ever increasingly complex tests. It’s one thing to do that with a very bread-andbutter standard test. It’s quite another thing to do that with a complex molecular test,” Walk said. Now, virtually all oncology drugs are developed with a companion diagnostic in mind, which means pharmaceutical companies have to come to Ventana to develop a robust test in time to embed it into their human trials. “Often times now drug companies are using the diagnostic tests that we develop to select the patients to go on the trials. The old way to do a trial was to enroll everyone and later figure out who responded and who didn’t. Now with these companion diagnostics, you know the population that is likely to respond,” Walk said. For Walk, keeping pace with research also means anticipating different types of discoveries and how scientists might reassess their understanding of cancer. It’s a shift in the field of pathology itself since the start of Walk’s career, and one that places pathology on the cutting edge. “I come from a drug development background and drugs used to be viewed as sexier than diagnostics. I now think diagnostics are sexier than drugs because you can’t use these drugs unless you have the diagnostic information to appropriately target them. “Diagnostics is the hub of personalized medicine. At Ventana we take that very seriously. We alone can’t drive the future of pathology but we have a critical part to play in making sure the pathologists of the future have the tools they need to contribute,” Walk said.

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Photo: BalfourWalker.com

I got to know the people here very well.” Good fortune again found Walk in 2005, with an offer to go from simply a Ventana customer to joining the company. But having grown up on the East Coast, both Walk and his wife had never spent any significant time in the West and the logistics of uprooting the family seemed daunting. Walk turned Ventana’s offer down. But Ventana was persistent. Walk had spoken to Dr. Thomas Grogan on the phone but had never met the Ventana founder. One meeting was all it took to seal the partnership. “After speaking to Tom and seeing how visionary and sincere he was in serving patients through anatomic pathology, I realized the opportunity to work with someone like that was something I couldn’t pass up,” Walk said. “As a pathologist interested in personalized health care and innovations that will drive the entire field of oncology and medicine forward, I can’t think of a better role for myself. I knew that working with Tom, I couldn’t go wrong.” Walk’s role with Ventana is two-fold: representing the company’s medical and scientific vision externally as CMO and overseeing seven subgroups internally as senior VP of medical and scientific affairs. The company’s future hinges on Walk’s medical innovation team, the engine that paves the way for new ideas and products. “We feel that the real growth for Roche overall, including Ventana, will come from ‘medical value’ products: diagnostic products that will allow clinicians to make a decision they weren’t able to make before because the information we provide through this diagnostic test is unique,” Walk said. “We look comprehensively across disease areas and identify – through looking at the literature, through staying in close communication with the top academic leaders worldwide – the most recent and compelling discoveries being made that could be a game-changing diagnostic. “It’s a combination of an art and a science. There are many articles written, many presentations given and we survey all of that information and try to find the diamonds in the rough that we can then combine with our proprietary

Cancer Survivor

Cathy Gawronski received the terrifying news – the lump she found in her breast might be cancer. She underwent a biopsy and tissue was sent off for testing. She spent 10 agonizing days waiting for the results. “The waiting is brutal,” she recalled of her 2002 breast cancer diagnosis. After her successful treatment, Gawronski was compelled to work at Ventana Medical Systems. “As a cancer survivor, I wanted to work in a company that supports cancer patients across the board,” she said. “It is an issue that is very dear to me.” She joined the team seven years ago, and is customer service manager. Three years ago, a second lump was found, this time in her other breast. Gawronski made sure Ventana products were used in this diagnosis. After waiting three days – not 10 – the news came again. Cancer. This time it was a different form of breast cancer. She soon underwent surgery and has a clean bill of health. All new employees at Ventana Medical Systems hear her story in a 30-minute video. “What we do really matters to patients,” Gawronski said. “Every sample that goes through this diagnostic process at laboratories and hospitals worldwide is somebody’s life.” By Gabrielle Fimbres Fall 2012 > > > BizTucson 101


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Economic Impact Ventana Medical Systems By Donna Kreutz Think of Ventana Medical Systems as a money magnet for Tucson and Pima County, attracting dollars from all over the globe. “Ventana is an export-based bioscience business. It does not exist to serve the people of Tucson and Pima County like a Home Depot,” said Dennis Hoffman, professor of economics in the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “They export technology and in return dollars flow to Tucson and dollars flow to Pima County. “Ventana is able to leverage highly trained, highly skilled personnel to build sophisticated products that are exported around the planet – products that contribute to the welfare of all of society. “Ventana is a key strategic asset,” he said, like Raytheon Missile Systems, which also is an export-based company. Tucson needs to attract more exportbased companies. “If you try to trace the origins of prosperity for a region, it is in the number and importance of the key export industries that reside in that region,” Hoffman said. Bioscience in particular is sustaining. It “feeds a demand that will certainly be prevalent across Europe and the U.S. as the boomer generation ages. Developed countries and even developing countries are keen on investing in those pursuits that promote human welfare and health,” he added. “Ventana would not exist were it not for another key strategic asset – the University of Arizona and its research medical school. Research universities attract star scientists and those star 102 BizTucson

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scientists end up coming in either as consultants with businesses in the community, or as in this case, forming their own businesses.” The university also produces the future workforce for hightech companies. Hoffman said, “The growth of Ventana is very key to growth of Pima County and Tucson. It’s something to be nurtured. “Ventana is a jewel – one you’ve got to keep polished and treat well – or find

The growth of Ventana is very key to growth of Pima County and Tucson. It’s something to be nurtured.

– Dennis Hoffman Professor of Economics W.P. Carey School of Business Arizona State University

out it leaves some day. “These types of businesses are generally mobile. They count on the production and retention of highly skilled people in the region,” Hoffman said. Even though Ventana has deep roots here, “trust me – if you stop producing and are unable to supply the talent, or if you can’t get the talent to come to Tucson, they would leave.”

To reach critical mass in the bioscience sector in Southern Arizona, Hoffman said, “frankly you need a few more Ventanas.” Hoffman said it is essential for this region to think ahead and address important regional issues like transportation, workforce development, water and energy. “Everything needs to be geared toward keeping these types of businesses happy,” he said. Arizona’s economic developers “work really hard at economic development and understand most of the issues. But the average Arizonan – and perhaps more of our legislators – need to understand that we need more than low taxes and few regulations for businesses like Ventana to flourish. “Ventana wouldn’t exist without the major investments made at the UA. That’s what it has got to take – continued major investment in education programs, buildings, faculty, teachers, workforce training and all the humancapital investments.” Add to that the need for substantial investments in telecommunications, transportation, water, infrastructure and more. Think big. In the future, there will be megapolitans and megaclusters of cities serving high-tech export businesses, Hoffman said. “We’ve got to think about the investments that need to be made to promote some vibrant linkages” in Arizona’s Sun Corridor with Southern California, he said. “We’ve got our work to do to maintain the competitive advantage here.”

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Doug Ward VP, Lifecycle Leader of Companion Diagnostics Ventana Medical Systems

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

BizBIOSCIENCE

The New Frontier Companion Diagnostics By Eric Swedlund Ventana Medical Systems leadership envisioned the future of health care, with personalized medicine at its core. That vision – coupled with investments and the groundwork that prepared the company to become a leader in the field – led to the companion diagnostics group at Ventana. The group endeavors to identify, develop and gain approval of biomarkers that will help pharmaceutical companies determine which patients will receive the greatest benefit from their drugs. “Over the last several years, after we established market leadership in laboratory efficiency through our platforms, we evolved our strategy to include high medical value tests that run on those platforms. Companion diagnostics and my part of the business are a key component of our overall strategy for the future,” says Doug Ward, VP and lifecycle leader of companion diagnostics. In the companion diagnostics arena – which pairs a particular, targeted diagnostic test with a companion drug – Ventana has 180 current projects, with more than 40 partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotech companies. “Companion diagnostics is about identifying the specific population of people whose disease can be characterized by genes, proteins or other 108 BizTucson

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biomarkers as the best responders, or, conversely, identify patients who won’t respond to a specific therapy,” Ward said. Building pharmaceutical partnerships is a challenging and rewarding process, Ward said, similar to the drugdevelopment process itself. “There’s an early stage to developing partnerships, which is all about innovation. Ventana has innovated not only the science and medicine, but the

Ventana delivers diagnostic tests that change the guidelines for managing and treating disease. – Doug

Ward

business model for successful pharmadiagnostics partnership as well. “Once we have a strong scientific hypothesis, we then need to prove the concept. Working with the team and the infrastructure we’ve built here in Tucson, we deploy an assay-development group to make innovative prototype assays and utilize them in initial studies with the pharmaceutical companies. Those biomarkers that are proven to be companion diagnostics are then advanced to the highly regulated assay develop-

ment process that has proven so successful over the years for Ventana.” The drug and companion diagnostic progress together through the trial stages. Then Ventana and its partners develop the products and prepare them for FDA or other approval, then co-register and co-commercialize the products. “Companies know that Ventana has such a strong brand and success in this field that they will call us and ask to work with us. That’s a testament to all the years Tom (Grogan) and the team have put into proving our credibility,” Ward said. “We’ve earned that with a lot of hard work.” Ventana doesn’t publicize its pharmaceutical contracts unless the drug company chooses to do so, but Ward said several new partnerships are highly visible, including ones with Roche, Pfizer, Bayer, Merck and Clovis Oncology. The future looks promising with companion diagnostics forecasted to be the fastest growing sub-segment within the diagnostic industry and targeted therapies as the fastest growing segment within oncology drugs. “We anticipate many more public announcements and successes in bringing drugs and their companion diagnostics to market over the next few years,” Ward said.

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Steve Burnell, VP Digital Pathology Ventana Medical Systems

Digital Pathology Provides Quicker, More Accurate Diagnosis By Eric Swedlund Ventana Medical Systems’ digital pathology group is working to transform how clinicians worldwide assess disease, with more efficient and accurate diagnoses that will accelerate the era of personalized health care and targeted therapies. “Our products essentially digitize what has been a manual process for over a hundred years,” says Steve Burnell, VP for Digital Pathology at Ventana. “Anatomic Pathology is one of the few visual diagnostic arenas that has not gone completely digital. It represents a huge opportunity for Ventana to innovate to improve patient care. “Digital pathology enables Roche’s strategy of companion diagnostics and targeted therapy by streamlining the testing and diagnosis process,’’ he continued. “It provides the ability to share vast quantities of data, link with the electronic health record and boost the value of biomarker-based diagnoses by fully enabling highly multiplexed or quantitative tests,” Burnell said. “Digitizing pathology slides provides a huge number of benefits. The most obvious are in the workflow, having digitized images of what previously required the pathologist to look through a microscope. Other benefits include efficient sharing of images amongst physi110 BizTucson

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cians for second opinions, reduction in archiving and storage costs and breakthrough opportunities in computer-assisted diagnosis that are more advanced than current technology allows.” He said Ventana Medical Systems is developing “highly multiplexed diagnostic tests, where we’re putting multiple signals on one glass slide. Digital pathology allows for numerous new tests to be run and for accurate quantification of the biomarkers present.”

We can now provide physicians a whole range of information that’s diagnostically important – much of which wouldn’t be possible with the naked eye. – Steve

Burnell

Burnell sees digital pathology as a key enabler of personalized medicine. It builds on the company’s long-standing strengths in high-quality staining platforms, assays and innovative workflow solutions that deliver a complete endto-end solution for pathology.

“Our Knowledge Management initiatives focus on integrating information to add extra value to the diagnostic paradigm. Ventana and Roche are in a unique position to bring together information across different diagnostic modalities and provide what will be the integrated patient report of the future,” Burnell said. Looking forward, Burnell said the challenges lie in balancing the extraordinary number of opportunities in digital pathology and the desire to quickly address them. “The number of opportunities in digital pathology is immense and obviously our resources are finite,” he said. “Our biggest challenge right now is prioritization, and that’s a good problem to have.” It’s another brand-new market that Ventana has gained an advantage in by jumping in early. “Advances in our knowledge of cellular biology, chemistry and imaging technologies are combining to drive the widespread adoption of digital pathology. We’re in a very good position,” Burnell said. “Our leadership in digital pathology, combined with our core strengths in assay development, staining and companion diagnostics make Ventana a powerful force for good in the fight against cancer.’’

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Photo: BalfourWalker.com

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Stephen Jones, Former Biomedical Scientist & Project Leader, Ventana Medical Systems

Scientist Helped Develop His Own Cure By Gabrielle Fimbres Not long ago, Stephen Jones stood before nearly 1,200 co-workers at Ventana Medical Systems and thanked each one for saving his life. “The people in the audience cured me,” said Jones, 52, who battled lymphoma last year. “They not only built the equipment and made the tests, they sold them to the right people and they trained those people. They enabled that pathology to be able to fix me. The bigger family, Roche, made the drug that cured me.” As biomedical scientist and project leader at Ventana, Jones oversaw the development of groundbreaking technologies using antibodies, from concept to market. The technology became highly personal in March 2011 when this very fit Brit was diagnosed with lymphoma. “I had some stomach issues and I wasn’t able to sleep,” said Jones, who spent six years commuting between Tucson and California, where his wife lives. “It was keeping me awake at night. I put it down to stress.” His doctor in California thought it might be acid reflux, but a variety of medications provided no relief. An ultrasound revealed a shadow behind his pancreas, and a biopsy found it likely that Jones had lymphoma. 112 BizTucson

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If you ever want to be at the right place at the right time, this is it.

– Stephen Jones Former Biomedical Scientist & Project Leader, Ventana Medical Systems

One of the first calls Jones made was to Dr. Thomas Grogan, Ventana founder and world-renown expert in lymphoma. “Tom, I think I’ve got lymphoma,” were his words to Grogan. “OK, this is what we need to do,” was the response. “Get me the slides.” As a pathologist in California was assessing tissue taken from a lymphnode, Grogan was conducting his own diagnosis. “Mission Hospital in Laguna Hills had all Ventana’s instruments, they had all our tests, they were using antibodies I had helped develop,” Jones said. Almost simultaneously, the California pathologist and Grogan made the same diagnosis – with the exact makeup of

the cells and the treatment most likely to be successful. Jones recalls his conversation with Grogan: “The pathologist got the diagnosis spot on because of the tests he had run on our instruments,” Grogan told him. “I’ve spent 40 years being able to get to this point and this guy can do it in two days.” Jones was treated with Rituxan, made by Roche, the company that owns Ventana. “The story of having Tom as the world’s expert, having Roche providing the drug and having our equipment and tests performing the diagnosis – it was like the perfect storm,” Jones said. “If you ever want to be at the right place at the right time, this is it.” He thanked his co-workers at an employee meeting, sharing his story. Jones recently left Ventana to return to California where he is taking his passion, most recently joining one of Ventana’s bigger customers. There he is bike riding, paddle boarding, kayaking and learning to kite surf. He has been cancer free for a year. “I might not be in the condition I am in now if I hadn’t had Ventana and Roche,” Jones said. “To contribute to what Ventana can provide to patients – that is what you do this for.” Biz

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Dr. Lupe Manriquez Principal Pathologist Ventana Medical Systems

Breast Cancer Ductal

Biopsy 101:

Fascinating Path from Diagnosis to Treatment By Romi Carrell Wittman Mara Aspinall, president of Ventana Medical Systems, says that cancer is the one thing everyone is afraid of. “It’s affected all of us in one way or another.” Ventana is on the cutting edge of cancer diagnostics and is taking the concept of personalized cancer treatment from drawing board to reality. But where does it all start? The answer lies in the biopsy. Dr. Lupe Manriquez, a principal pathologist at Ventana, outlined this critical and highly complex process as it pertains to breast cancer. When breast cancer is suspected, a needle core biopsy is performed. “They’ll use ultrasound to locate the mass,” she says, “or they’ll go in if the mass is palpable.’’ A cutting needle is used to cut four very tiny pieces of breast tissue, roughly 114 BizTucson

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a centimeter or so long. The apparatus is not unlike a very, very small apple corer. The tissue is sent to the lab, where it is preserved, a process that takes a minimum of eight hours. “The solution has to penetrate the tissue,” Manriquez explained. “This is referred to as ‘fixing’ the tissue.” Once that’s complete, the tissue is placed in a processor, which dehydrates it and prepares it for cutting. Next it’s placed into an organic solvent that makes it transparent and, finally, it’s embedded in wax to prevent it from drying out. A histotechnologist cuts the sample four microns thick and places it on slides. The slides are placed in an oven where they are heated to make the tissue adhere to the glass slide. After that,

the samples are stained. Next the pathologist examines the slides for diagnosis. “Based on the architecture of the tissue, we can put it into broad categories,” Manriquez said. If it’s cancer, it gets a panel of immunohistochemical stains to classify the kind of cancer it is and to provide additional information. “We want to find out if the patient’s tissue has estrogen receptors on it. If it does, we know to use tamoxifen therapy to block the estrogen from stimulating or feeding the tumor,” she added. The pathologist looks for key markers on the cells because these markers tell the doctor how aggressive the cancer is. “Depending on the results of these tests, we can offer options for treatment based on the individual’s tumor.’’

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PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

Crystal Diaz takes part in the company’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection.

Neil Lautaret, director of facilities and site services at Ventana Medical Systems

Recycling Day

Commitment to Sustainability By Romi Carrell Wittman “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.’’ This Native American proverb sums up the concept of sustainability, which, in its literal definition, means the capacity to endure. While many companies have the best intentions when it comes to adopting “green” programs, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of eco buzzwords – reducing your carbon footprint, being green, triple bottom line. Often these initiatives fizzle out after a short while as the next new buzzword grips the business world. Not at Ventana Medical Systems. 116 BizTucson

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The global leader in tissue diagnostics has made sustainability part of its core business values and, to back it up, sets yearly goals to meet or exceed. “It’s part of our DNA,” said Neil Lautaret, director of facilities and site services at Ventana. “It’s part of our corporate strategic focus, at Ventana and at Roche.” The heart of the company’s sustainability initiative is its VERDE team, a group of committed Ventana employees who volunteer their time to promote and enact sustainability measures. The team’s focus is to seek out new ways for the company to reduce the amount of

waste it produces, the amount of energy it consumes as well as the amount of water it uses. “We get many great ideas from them,” Lautaret said. And those ideas are working. Thanks to the company’s aggressive energy-efficiency measures, it has realized a significant drop in energy usage. “Last year we had a per-employee energy reduction of more than 4 percent,” Lautaret said. “And we’re on target for another 4 percent this year.” Ventana also uses passive water harvesting to minimize storm water runoff and lessen the need for irrigation. These measures, along with others, resulted in

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a savings of some 650,000 gallons of water last year. Day lighting is used to minimize the need for artificial light, and a solar thermal water-heating project is planned. Further, Ventana is installing electrical car-charging stations to support employees in their efforts to be sustainable. Reducing waste as well as recycling waste products is an integral part of the sustainability initiative at Ventana. Said Lautaret, “We’re always looking at different ways we can improve landfill diversion. We look at how we can reduce, reuse and recycle everything we come in contact with.” The company’s wastereduction efforts resulted in a savings of 520 cubic yards of landfill space last year. In addition to Ventana’s robust recycling program – some 160 tons of waste were recycled last year – Ventana donates old computer and laboratory equipment, as well as old furniture to World Care, which gives the items to various nonprofits, churches, schools and family services organizations in need.

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In 2011, World Care rebuilt 16 Ventana computers for use in a World Care civilian relief center. In addition, Ventana sent 20 computer systems to Tanzania to establish a computer lab at a girls’ school, and another 128 computers were sent to nonprofit agencies in Tucson. World Care also sells Ventana’s rebuilt computers and uses the proceeds to support World Care humanitarian programs. Last year, Ventana’s contributions generated more than $10,000 to support these programs. The company is also taking a careful look at seemingly mundane things like copy paper. “It’s company standard to print on both sides,” Lautaret said, a practice that has led to a substantial reduction in paper usage. To promote sustainability in the community, last year Ventana held its first Household Hazardous-Waste Collection, an on-campus event in conjunction with Pima County and the City of Tucson. Employees collected more than 1,500 pounds of hazardous waste and 950 pounds of computer equipment that could potentially have ended up in landfills. Because of the positive re-

sponse of the first event, collections will take place annually. The company is also a big supporter of Earth Day, which has become a weeklong celebration. “On Earth Day this year, we had a trade-in-yourtrash-can day,” Lautaret says. “People brought their office trash cans and traded them in for a recycle bin.” Such festivities are just one of the many ways Ventana engages employees in important initiatives. The belief is that overarching corporate goals can be met only if employees are engaged, knowledgeable and accountable. Corporate goals become department goals and, finally, they become individual goals. In this way, sustainability becomes everyone’s responsibility. The Ventana VERDE group is hard at work developing new programs as well. “Alternate transportation and food waste are high on the list,” Lautaret said. It all comes down to one simple concept. “How can we use our resources more effectively? We look at it as vital to our success.”

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PHOTOS: CHRIS MOONEY

PHOTO: COURTESY VENTANA MEDICA SYSTEMS

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Where Innovation Lives The Ventana Campus By Romi Carrell Wittman Standing in the breezeway near the lobby of Ventana Medical Systems headquarters in Oro Valley, it’s easy to believe the Catalina foothills sprout straight out of the building. The purple rock outcroppings look close enough to touch. The cacti, mesquite and palo verde trees that cover them look like something out of a travel magazine. The million-dollar view is undeniably inspiring, an imposing yet gorgeous feature of the campus, as much a part of the company as the buildings and the employees. The Ventana campus covers about 40 acres along Innovation Park Drive, just east of Rancho Vistoso and north of Tangerine Road. It’s an aesthetically 118 BizTucson

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pleasing area, filled with pristine desert as well as some well-planned development, including Oro Valley Hospital and the pharma giant Sanofi, as well as Oro Valley Marketplace, a shopping center with anchor stores, a movie theater and restaurants. The Ventana facility is roughly 360,000 square feet in size and is comprised of 10 buildings of offices, manufacturing and laboratory space. Ventana owns another 20 acres at the site, which it will use for expansion when the need arises. In all, some 1,200 employees work at the site. The beautiful, cohesive campus is a far cry from the company’s beginnings. At one point, it had office, lab

and manufacturing space scattered over 20 buildings in three separate locations across Tucson. But, as the company’s growth skyrocketed, the need to consolidate operations in a single location became apparent. In 1999, the Ventana board charged a team of staffers with finding a location. Rick Reynolds, senior manager of facilities at Ventana, was part of that original team. “We decided that, to get the facility we needed we had to start from the ground up and build our own,” he said. “We wanted a campus that was conducive to bringing people together. And Oro Valley is just so beautiful.” continued on page 120 >>>

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BizBIOSCIENCE continued from page 118 Gregg Forszt, principal project manager at Ventana, was also a team member. “We looked at an area out by the airport and a more central location,’’ he said. “We narrowed it down to a few sites and when the board saw the Oro Valley site, they said that’s where we wanted to be.” The site was open desert back then, lacking even basic infrastructure like sewer, water or electricity. To give the board of directors some sense of what the final product would look like, Ventana staffers, along with the developer, plotted out the outline with white PVC pipe. Developers provided Ventana with incentives to help them become the first

design other buildings on the campus. The company’s move to Innovation Park had a domino effect on the development. Once it moved in, other companies followed, among them Oro Valley Hospital, which opened in 2005. The hospital lured many medical and dental offices to Innovation Park, and today Innovation Park is home to an array of doctors, dentists and lab facilities. Most recently, Sanofi moved to its newly constructed Innovation Park home in 2009. The Ventana campus was designed with an eye toward beauty and functionality. “Being a high-tech company, we wanted a campus that portrayed that image,’’ Forszt said. “We wanted something employee focused with amenities employees would like to have.”

critical mass. The little guys want to be around the big guys, the big guys want the little guys around for talent and technology.” The long-term vision for Innovation Park is always in site for Neil Simon, a co-partner of Venture West, the firm that acquired Innovation Park in 2005 from Vistoso Partners. “We view Innovation Park as the location in Southern Arizona that is most like other successful bioscience, high-tech and professional office campuses around the country, like, for example, Denver Tech Center, Research Triangle (in North Carolina), Torrey Pines Mesa (near San Diego),” he said. And this is only the beginning, Simon added. “Our vision is to build on this great start, to attract other companies

Architects, engineers, everyone associated with the project was local. – Garry

tenant of Innovation Park. The Town of Oro Valley was also supportive and assisted the company in getting the necessary permits in time for a November 2001 move-in date. Ventana Medical Systems turned to local companies for the construction project, including Matt Sears with the firm HDR as the architect, BFL Construction and Schneider Structural Engineers. It was a fast-paced job, but a fun one. “Tom Grogan is the visionary that got the whole thing rolling,” said Garry Brav, president of BFL Construction. “Architects, engineers, everyone associated with the project was local. We had so many people on the site that we had our own security team out there. Looking back, the construction of the Ventana Medical Systems campus was a defining moment in the history of our company.” After the first phase was constructed, Ventana looked to Advantech Facility Design, a local architecture firm, to 120 BizTucson

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Brav, President, BFL Construction

To that end, the campus boasts a cafeteria as well as several spaces for fitness classes such as Tai Chi, yoga and spinning. An auditorium can accommodate up to 120 people. Ventana is also well known for its commitment to the arts. The hallways at Ventana are dedicated to showcasing the work of local artists, many of them employees. Ventana has a longstanding partnership with the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance and the two groups work together to mount art exhibitions each quarter. Innovation Park as a whole continues to thrive. Robert Davis, senior VP at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, the broker representing Innovation Park, said that what’s happening here is the birth of a biosciences hub in Oro Valley. “These two global brands, Ventana and Sanofi, are attracting all kinds of things. DxInsights is moving there, Bio5,” Davis said. “Similar industries in an area…that’s what we mean by

– small and large – to an exciting business park which will continue to be developed to the highest standards.” Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath said it is difficult to overstate the impact that Ventana and Innovation Park have had on the area. When Hiremath took office two years ago, the town was struggling to create an identity, a name brand and reputation that would be recognizable at a regional, state and even national level. Hiremath said that, with the global presence and local ties of Ventana, Oro Valley is finally putting itself on the map and attracting top-notch companies as well as high-caliber employees to staff them. Hiremath echoes Davis’s thoughts on the synergistic qualities of bioscience. “Ventana started a chain reaction,” Hiremath said. “Oro Valley is being branded as the next big biotech region in Arizona. Ventana single-handedly helped Oro Valley create that identity.”

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Jen Prescott, VP of Human Resources Ventana Medical Systems

Recruiting the Best & Brightest By Gabrielle Fimbres Ventana Medical Systems recruits locally and globally to bring the best and brightest to the team. Mara Aspinall, Ventana president, said that while the company recruits employees aggressively within Arizona, it’s important to recruit from throughout the United States and the world because Ventana strives for a “diversity of thought” among its staff that is truly global. “We have people from the East Coast, the West Coast and from throughout the entire U.S.,” she said. “We also recruit those who were educated abroad because we need to represent our customer base – and our customer base is the world.” Employees recently received statewide recognition for their achievements as the company was awarded AZ Business Magazine’s Most Admired Business Award. Ventana was selected based on leadership excellence, customer opinion, corporate and social responsibility and workplace culture. Jen Prescott, VP of human resources, said Ventana taps into the Roche network to recruit a workforce that is diverse in gender, ethnicity and background. “It adds so much more to the workplace when you can bring in people with different thoughts and values and 122 BizTucson

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different ways of thinking and looking at things,” Prescott said. About 20 percent of the almost 1,200 local employees are from Tucson. Another 300 employees work elsewhere. The staff expands by about 100 annually. Ventana partners with the University of Arizona and Bio 5 Institute to recruit locally. “We get a number of scientists and engineers from the UA. We offer internships every summer in the sciences or engineering. They come with so many good ideas.” After they graduate, many go on to become Ventana employees. Ventana is home to world-renown scientists, but also provides jobs in manufacturing, sales, customer service and other areas. “You don’t have to be a scientist to work here,” Prescott said. One recruiting challenge Ventana faces is a misconception about Tucson. “We find issues in getting people to come to Tucson.” Prescott said. “People have this perception that Tucson is something different than it is. Part of it is selling Tucson to them. Once they come here they are awestruck by the beauty of the area and a lot of our employees are really into hiking and biking and what better place? You just have to get them out here.” Employees are drawn by cultural and

sporting events offered by the UA and other organizations. Employees also enjoy the lifestyle and schools Oro Valley has to offer. Being part of Roche – with 80,000 employees worldwide – provides an opportunity for Ventana employees to work abroad and for employees from around the globe to work in Tucson.

With Roche, we now have a whole world full of jobs. – Jen

Prescott

Employees are drawn to the culture at Ventana, said Jacqueline Bucher, senior director of corporate communications. “There’s a very entrepreneurial spirit here. We encourage innovation.” Aspinall said the collegial attitude makes for “a very interesting atmosphere where people can work together – but think differently and challenge each other to do a better job. “We have a saying: ‘See it, own it, solve it,’ ” she continued. “We need to be focused, as we are, with continuous improvement. We do that by having a diverse group of passionate employees who wake up each day to come here and really make a difference.” Biz

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BizBIOSCIENCE

Community Involvement is Essential By Gabrielle Fimbres Ventana Medical Systems employees spend their days creating tools vital in the fight against cancer. Outside of the lab and office and manufacturing plant, employees also dedicate their time to charitable work helping Tucsonans battling cancer and other challenges. “We believe community involvement is essential to being a good corporate citizen,” said Jacqueline Bucher, Ventana’s senior director of corporate communications. “Ventana employees collectively volunteer thousands of hours a year in community service,” she said. “It’s part of our mission, part of who we are. We encourage our employees to involve themselves with community projects, both because they have valuable skills to contribute and because community service is personally enriching. Providing employees time and support for volunteer work is something Ventana and Roche feel very strongly about.” Said Jen Prescott, VP of human resources, “It’s just part of the passion people have here in terms of contributing both through work and their outside activities.” Among recent and ongoing events supported by Ventana:

• Arizona Distance Classic – This fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society starts at Ventana’s campus, with employees, family members and friends participating and helping to organize the race.

• Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure – Ventana employees race and contribute to this annual event that raises money for breast cancer research and education, with 150 employees, friends and relatives racing in 2012.

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

• Movember – Employees grow moustaches

Jacqueline Bucher, Senior Director of Corporate Communications Ventana Medical Systems 126 BizTucson

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– or sport faux staches – to raise money for prostate cancer research. Ventana employees grew 85 moustaches for a cure last November.

• Couture

for Cancer – This unique 2011 fashion show held on the Ventana campus incorporated images of colorful histologi-

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Employees unite to fight cancer

cal stains pathologists use for diagnosis into the fashions worn by employees and professional models raising $60,000 for Diamond Children’s Medical Center Oncology Unit.

• Corporate match – Ventana matches employee contributions to cancer-related charities, up to $200 per employee per year.

Ventana, as part of Roche, annually participates in a Children’s Walk, with Roche employees participating all over the world. A portion of the proceeds raised locally benefit Casa de los Niños, which cares for abused and abandoned children. Susie Huhn, executive director at Casa, said funds from the walk help care for children living in shelter. She walked in the event last year, getting to know employees and sharing Casa’s mission with them. Partnering with corporations “really raises awareness about some of the community challenges,” Huhn said. “It was nice to walk and talk about these issues.”

Everyone has been touched in some way by cancer and everyone wants to make a difference.

Bucher Senior Director of Corporate Communications Ventana Medical Systems

Ventana employees – including Mara Aspinall, president and CEO – are involved in organizations that include Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Bioscience Leadership Council of Southern Arizona, the University of Arizona and others. While employees are involved in many philanthropic activities, the charities that help people with cancer remain closest to their hearts. “When people get hired they will tell you that it is very rewarding to them that they can work at a place that contributes to the welfare of people who have cancer,” Prescott said. Bucher added, “You have that common spirit and passion here at Ventana. Everyone has been touched in some way by cancer and everyone wants to make a difference.”

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Couture for Cancer fundraiser for Diamond Children’s Medical Center PHOTO: COURTESY VENTANA MEDICAL SYSTEMS

– Jacqueline

Komen Race For the Cure

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PHOTOS: COURTESY CHANCE AGRELLA/TREO

Photo: BalfourWalker.com

BizBIOSCIENCE

Christie Pennington Clinical Research Associate Ventana Medical Systems

Students from Sunnyside Unified School District at Young Scientist’s Day

Inspiring Young Minds By Gabrielle Fimbres Every spring, more than 100 young scientists converge on Ventana Medical Systems, donning lab coats and spending the day with scientists and engineers as they explore the world of innovation. During the company’s Young Scientist’s Day, high school students peer through microscopes, get a close look at cancer cells and learn how cancer is diagnosed and attacked. The annual event was dreamed up in 2008 by Christie Pennington, who was a high school chemistry teacher before joining the Ventana team. She’d been on the job a few months and thought Ventana provided a great opportunity for students to get excited about careers in science, technology, engineering and math. “I loved teaching, but I was almost driven to get a job at Ventana because of their mission,” said Pennington, a clinical research associate. She approached Ventana leadership about her idea for Young Scientist’s Day. “I put in a proposal and it was approved,” Pennington recalled. “Twenty-five students came the first year. I made everything that year by hand, and it was a wild success.” 128 BizTucson

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The program quickly grew, and now as many as 120 students – freshmen through seniors – attend. About 75 Ventana employees spend the day guiding students through hands-on learning experiences. Ventana selects a different school or district each year. Mara Aspinall, Ventana president, and Dr. Thomas Grogan, Ventana founder and University of Arizona pathologist, speak to the students, inspiring them about the possibilities. Last year, 50 teens from Sunnyside High School and 50 from Desert View High School took part in the program. “It was fabulous,” said N.J. Utter, director of college readiness at Sunnyside Unified School District. “They got to see scientists and engineers at work. One of the things that struck me was how enthusiastic they all were about their jobs and their passion for what they were doing.” Utter said cancer has touched many Sunnyside families, and the students had an appreciation for the importance of their work. The Ventana team reinforced Utter’s mantra: “You can do this.” She said the commitment by Ventana

and other corporations is critical in supporting schools. “We all know that money is one resource that schools need – but this is a great example of a company giving their time and reaching out and sharing their enthusiasm with the students. That made a huge impact.” Pennington said the intent of the program is to show students that “science is real and it comes in a myriad of activities at Ventana.” It also serves as a myth buster when it comes to stereotypes. “If I ask students to draw A picture of a chemist, 99 percent draw a man in a white coat with pencils in the pocket,” Pennington said. “Here they get to see these energetic, fantastic people who are making a huge difference. We’re not all just nerds.” Jen Prescott, VP of human resources at Ventana, said the day allows girls to see women thriving in science fields. “How great for young girls to say, ‘I can do that.’ Clearly women are underrepresented in the sciences.’’ Cultivating student enthusiasm benefits Ventana as well, Prescott said. “They are our future. They are potential future employees for us.”

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Photo: BalfourWalker.com

BizBIOSCIENCE

Cathy Gawronski Customer Experience Manager Ventana Medical Systems

Artistic Creation Leads to Scientific Innovation By Romi Carrell Wittman Famed sculptor Henry Moore once said, “To be an artist is to believe in life.” Much the same can be said for simply enjoying art. Art transports us. Art illuminates us. Art inspires us. “Art in the workplace inspires creativity which in turn is the engine of innovation,” says Cathy Gawronski, customer experience manager at Ventana Medical Systems. “It not only looks good, it makes people feel good about coming in to work.” Inspiring innovation is one of the driving forces behind Ventana’s commitment to the arts. The company has the largest free, public art gallery in Southern Arizona and it routinely hosts art shows featuring the work of local, regional and national artists. The company has long been active in the arts community. Dr. Thomas Grogan, founder of Ventana, and Cande, his wife, have been patrons of the arts for many years. Mrs. Grogan spruced up the previous Ventana facility with artwork and when the company moved 130 BizTucson

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into its current facility, she reached out to her contacts in the art world and turned the hallways of the new facility into an art space. Building on that concept, in 2006 Ventana partnered with the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance to display quarterly art shows on the Ventana campus. Artwork consists primarily of paintings and photography, but some other mediums like jewelry, sculpture and even origami are represented. Last year, Ventana held an exhibition of works created by Ventana employees. The show was so popular it’s now an annual event. The company kicked off the 2nd Employee Art Exhibition with a gala reception this past July. The show will run through September. 
 “This is a way we continuously use our gallery for creative inspiration to innovate and help patients,” Gawronski said. “As employees, we are defined by more than what we do at work. The Annual Employee Art Exhibition is a way for employees to use their creativity in different ways, and it’s enriching for

everyone here and for the community.” Ventana plans to expand its arts program further. In the fall, the company will host a show that focuses on cancer survivorhood, Gawronski said. The company is building its permanent collection of art, something that parent company Roche strongly supports. “Roche has a huge commitment to the arts and they have a tremendous collection in Basel at their headquarters,” Gawronski said. The collection, which focuses on modern art, is so large Roche employs a full-time curator to staff its archive. “In the arts and in science and technology, Ventana and Roche are really a marriage made in heaven,” she said. The Ventana Gallery is open to the public by appointment Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as the first and third Saturdays of the month, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are required with a minimum 48hour advance notice. Call the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance at 797-3959 for details.

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Faces of Ventana Medical Systems

Years at Ventana Medical Systems: 12

s s

Name: Hiro Nitta Title: Scientific Fellow The best thing about my job: Many of my friends have lost loved ones to cancer. I lost my father to cancer right after I joined Ventana Medical Systems. I know how difficult it is to have a family member or a friend who is facing the reality of cancer. Since I was 18, I have dedicated my life to histology. It is my mission to improve cancer patientsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lives by creating new, innovative tissue-based cancer diagnostic tests.

Name: Himanshu Parikh. Years at Ventana Medical Systems: 1 The best thing about my job: Delivering quality products on time to empower our customers to treat patients afflicted with cancer.

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PHOTOS: CHRIS MOONEY & COURTESY VENTANA MEDICAL SYSTEMS

Title: VP, Manufacturing Operation


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Biz Tucson Special Report Ventana Medical Systems