Jackson Laboratory’s first partner in developing a biomedical park in eastern Collier County will be the University of South Florida in Tampa.
The laboratory and USF will collaborate on several initiatives toward the evolving field of personalized medicine. They will work together in research, education and clinical care.
“What is so pleasing is how closely they share our vision of what we can accomplish,” Chuck Hewett, Jackson’s chief operating officer, said. ”Their mission not only allows but requires they share their knowledge around the world.”
The announcement was made at the Naples Hilton with about 100 people business and civic leaders in attendance who support Jackson’s efforts to build a genetics-based research institute on 50 acres on Oil Well Road. The land will be donated by the Barron Collier Co.
Hewett said USF is the fastest growing university in the United States and has had amazing successes in biomedical discoveries and taking those findings to bedside treatment for diseases. Key is that USF takes an inclusive approach with other researchers, he said.
Karen Holbrook, vice president for research and innovation at USF, said the university has $380 million in sponsored research and more than 50 percent of that comes to USF Health, which consists of the colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Public Health.
Key areas of research are in neuroscience, diabetes and sustainability, the latter being how mankind impacts the environment and communities, she said.
One researcher, for example, has brought in $400 million over a seven-year period from the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Stephen Klasko, chief executive officer of USF Health and dean of the College of Medicine, said Jackson’s longstanding expertise in genetics research involving mice makes the nonprofit laboratory, based in Maine, an ideal partner.
“We want to give our students and residents an education that will help them become leaders in the new era of genomics-based personalized medicine,” he said.
Klasko also spoke about some of USF’s research that is leading the way into a new era of medical care and interaction between doctors and patients. For instance, USF has a $6 billion federal grant to move doctors into electronic medical records, and so far has converted 1,200 doctors from paper to electronic medical records. The university also has a comprehensive Alzheimer’s center.
He said USF looks forward to working with Jackson to create a pipeline between research findings of diseases, based on an individual’s genetic composition, and pharmaceuticals based on specialized treatment.
“We found a great partner in Jackson,” he said.
The development of a biomedical research park near Ave Maria will have an impact on Collier County that goes beyond medicine toward cultural enrichment.
“We partner with hospitals, universities and the arts,” he said. “The bottom line is your children and grandchildren will be healthier and your community will benefit from that.”
Jackson and USF also announced the establishment of a Biomedical Leadership Council, an advisory board for the development of the biomedical village.
The group’s first chairman is Dolph von Arx, a longtime community leader at the Conservancy, the Regional Business Alliance and former chairman of the NCH Healthcare System board of trustees.
Other members of the council, so far, include Blake Gable, president of real estate development for Barron Collier, Holbrook, with USF, Richard Molloy, principal of Florida Gulfshore Capital, a Naples-based venture investment firm. Additional council members are Edmundo Muniz, president and chief executive officer of Tigris Pharmaceuticals, a Bonita Springs-based clinical-stage biotechnology company, and Douglas VanOort, chairman and chief executive officer of NeoGemonics Laboratories, based in Fort Myers.
Klasko said USF and Jackson would be signing a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday and USF would start working on its business plan immediately,
The university will pursue state funding of $26 million for construction of a research, education and clinical building that is envisioned at 50,000 square feet in size. That request will be made to the state this fall, Klasko said.
Beyond that, USF also will immediately seek funding from the federal government of up to $6 million per year, for up to five years, for clinical science programs, he said.
From a staffing standpoint, USF would start with someone in charge of the USF campus here and a chief scientific officer.
Fred Coyle, chairman of the Collier County Commission, said Jackson Lab and USF had been in talks for four or five months.
From his standpoint, having USF as the initial partner in a biomedical village would not be enough for the county to start releasing local dollars, if the full board decides on Tuesday to go forward with the project. The county would need to raise $130 million if it decides to go forward, to match $130 million in state funding.
The key ingredient for the county is the availability of the state funding, of which a first-year amount of $50 million is contingent on the federal government approving another stimulus package. That has been stalled in Congress.
“We have to make sure when we start the project that we have enough funding to finish the project,” Coyle said. “The missing element is the state funding.”
On the other hand, the USF announcement is a significant step and could advance the time span for fostering a biomedical village, he said.
“I don’t think we will have to wait 20 years to get a successful business cluster,” he said.
Jackson Laboratory officials are making a major announcement this morning regarding its proposed genetics research facility near Ave Maria at a 10:30 a.m. press conference.
Later today, the citizen-based Productivity Committee meets at 2 p.m. to finalize its report to the Collier County Commission about the economic viability of the Jackson project and funding options if the commission decides to approve the project. The county would need to raise $130 million as a match to state funding.
The Productivity committee will make a presentation to the board at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 27, and a public hearing for the community to weigh in on the Jackson project will follow. The county board is expected to make a decision about the project Tuesday.
Check back to the Daily News for more details.