PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Feb. 16, 2010 -- Even with unemployment high and sales down, Safeway Inc. has donated more than $317,000 to fund breast cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).
Donations raised in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month increased the total contributions by Safeway to TGen over the past three years to more than $1.5 million, said Michael Bassoff, president of the non-profit TGen Foundation.
"I'm very grateful that Safeway leadership -- Safeway management -- is able to make all of this possible. We have so much to thank you for,'' Bassoff told Dan Valenzuela, President of Safeway's Phoenix Division, which includes 115 stores across Arizona.
Valenzuela said that even in this challenging economic environment, Safeway's customers and employees succeeded in providing TGen with needed funds to find new treatments for breast cancer patients.
"It's been a challenging year for us. Everybody has hardships that they see within their own families or among their friends,'' Valenzuela said. "It's great to see all these people at TGen coming together and working towards a common goal. It's very impressive, and it's an honor to be a part of it. It's a great partnership, because TGen is a local organization, here in our own state, and we can see the benefits of their scientists' hard work."
Because of the economy, Valenzuela said, Safeway is working harder than ever to help fund the needs of local organizations: "We have more people than ever before that we are trying to help, especially in a tough economy. There are a lot of great organizations out there, and there are a lot of people who need more help than ever before. You want to help everybody."
Dr. Heather Cunliffe, head of TGen's Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research Unit, said that, thanks to Safeway, TGen scientists are making significant progress in three key areas of breast cancer research:
- Accelerating an understanding of genetic events that contribute to, and prevent the onset of, breast cancer.
- Discovering new cellular mechanics that drive the spread of breast cancer cells to distant organs, which can be targeted through novel therapeutic approaches.
- Conducting high-resolution genomic tests of breast tumor biopsy material, providing better guidance for oncologists and resulting in optimized disease management for breast cancer patients.
"We are extremely proud to be partnering with Safeway, which is enabling these significant accomplishments within a short time frame. Your contributions are truly astonishing," Cunliffe told Valenzuela. "Your customers and employees are certainly crusaders in the war on breast cancer."
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.