Female pioneers pave way in biotech research - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Female pioneers pave way in biotech research

Elyse Ryan Elyse Ryan
Jennifer Cannon Jennifer Cannon
Renia Sylvester Renia Sylvester
Shannon Iwami Shannon Iwami

By Leland Kim bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - When you think of a high tech bio research company, Hawaii may not be the first place that comes to mind, but Honolulu is home to one of the most advanced biotech companies in the country. And the scientists who work there are unique in their own right.

Tissue Genesis Incorporated stands at the forefront of advanced biotechnology and research. Its scientists work on tissue engineering and cell therapy.

"Well, we take fat cells and we put them in the TGI 1000 machine," said Elyse Ryan, a scientist at the company. "And from that, through digestion and manipulation, we're able to have these stem cells that can be used to treat patients with diabetes that may lose limbs."

And these stem cells also help patients with heart problems and other health issues. This lab helps patients all over the world.

And here's another unique aspect of Tissue Genesis. Unlike most labs which are male dominated, this place is run by women.

"I'm lucky because I have parents who are both in science," said Jennifer Cannon, another scientist at the lab. "So they always kind of made me question things. It's just a mindset where you want to know more, and found out more, and study more about how we work."

"I was always drawn since elementary school to science fairs, science projects, coming up with a hypothesis and proving it," added Renia Sylvester, another Tissue Genesis scientist. "It was always cool to me."

And for local girl Shannon Iwami, it's a chance to follow her passion while staying right at home.

"I think it's great," she said. "It gives people from the islands opportunities that you probably won't usually have and you don't have to go to the mainland to find a job like this."

These pioneering women encourage young girls to look into the sciences.

"There are so many more opportunities now than there ever were before and that's something you have to take advantage of," said Cannon.

"Follow whatever your dreams are," added Sylvester. "There's nothing women cannot do. There isn't a male field out there. Women do everything."

Bio-technology is a growing industry, with more than $450 billion invested in research and development.

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