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Next, Festa moved to Boston to join Joshua LaBaer’s laboratory as a postdoctoral research associate, initially at Harvard Medical School and now at the Biodesign Institute’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, which LaBaer directs. In the state-of-the art, high-throughput robotics lab, Festa works alongside a multidisciplinary research team of biologists, chemists, engineers, statisticians and database experts to identify and validate biomarkers – unique molecular fingerprints of disease that could vastly improve health care outcomes through the early detection of disease.
Festa has been heavily involved in improving a platform technology, called NAPPA, which LaBaer originally co-developed with colleagues to rapidly identify and validate biomarkers from the complete set of thousands of potential proteins – called the proteome – circulating in the human body at any one time.
“Everyone in the research community gets thrilled and impressed with the research platform we have developed,” Festa said. “This platform is extremely flexible and can be easily adapted for an unlimited number of applications.”
Her efforts have focused on improving every step of the technology so that proteome analysis can one day become a new standard of clinical care and medicine. Most recently, she has applied NAPPA technology to uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of cancer drug resistance for individuals with leukemia.
Members of the "40 Under 40" class will be featured in a special section of the June 28 print edition of the Phoenix Business Journal. In addition, a reception and honoree recognition program will be held June 27 at the Phoenix Art Museum to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s class.
For the complete list of the class of 2013, visit: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2013/06/03/meet-the-phoenix-40-under-40-class-of.html.
The Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics research is supported by grants from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the National Cancer Institute branch of the National Institutes of Health and a $35 million philanthropic gift from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.