New NSU Institute Could Redefine Region As Research Hub

Written by on 11.17.15 in Investment Trends - No comments

Nova Southeastern University announced Monday it is creating a new institute for cell-based medical research, boosting South Florida’s efforts to become a leader in medical innovation.

The NSU Cell Therapy Institute is being established in partnership with the Karolinska Institute, the prestigious Swedish university that awards The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It will be housed along with other research groups in an $80 million, 215,000-square-foot research facility currently being built on the university’s Davie campus.

University officials said the new institute, which will research how cells can be modified to prevent and treat cancer and other medical issues, will put NSU at the cutting edge of science and medicine.

“I think some of these findings could be transformative,” said Dr. H. Thomas Temple, senior vice president of translational research and economic development. “It may change the way we think about treating certain diseases. I think it’s that important.”

The institute will be led by Richard Jove, who most recently served as president and director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida in Port St. Lucie, or VGTI. That company, which partnered with the Karolinska Institute in October 2014 to study diseases associated with aging, closed last month after running out of money, according to the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Port St. Lucie borrowed $64 million to build a facility for VGTI, which the company was supposed to pay back with interest over 30 years. The city is now responsible for that amount, which with interest comes out to $130 million, the Treasure Coast papers reported.

After the institute closed, the researchers wanted to stay together to continue their work, Temple said. They needed a new home — and NSU fit the bill.

The launch of the cell therapy institute is one of several steps NSU has recently taken to expand its reach in medicine and medical research.

“It has caught on like wildfire and every week it’s a new investigator, a new idea, a new focus,” Temple said. “But the important thing is that these people are all marching in step and singular in the thought that they’re going to transform medicine in a way that no one else has.”

In April, the university announced it would create a new medical school, which would offer traditional medical degrees at its North Miami Beach campus. The next month, Hospital Corporation of America opened an emergency room on the Davie campus, which NSU officials said will eventually become a teaching and research hospital.

Next spring, the school plans to open the doors of its new research facility, the Center for Collaborative Research, which will be home to institutes for neuro-immune medicine and cancer research. University President George Hanbury said the NSU Cell Therapy Institute is a boon for the new center.

“As NSU nears the completion of its vast Center for Collaborative Research and is taking the necessary steps to add a teaching and research hospital on our campus, it is essential for us to focus on this level of collaboration and scientific discovery,” he said in a statement.

All the growth is expected to have a positive impact on South Florida, potentially helping bring in new companies. Biomedical research has had a big push in Florida since 2003, when the state and Palm Beach County spent more than $500 million recruiting The Scripps Institute, a California biotech research giant.

In the years that followed, further development included the opening of another Scripps location on Florida Atlantic University’s Jupiter campus and the opening of the Max Planck Florida Institute next door. And in Miami-Dade County, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 2011 opened a Life Sciences & Technology Park.

Growth has been slower in Broward, though. So the changes at NSU have been welcomed by economic development groups like the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, which recruits industries for the county.

“Broward didn’t have that foundation,” said Todd Holt, the group’s director of business development. “And now we do.”

 

Source: SunSentinel

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