USF, Jackson to Partner on Biomedical Village

More than 100 people attended the partnership announcement with Jackson Laboratory in Naples Wednesday.



By Lisa Greene

USF Health Communications


NAPLES, Fla. (July 23, 2010) - It’s a partnership that could help transform Naples and Southwest Florida, as well as help people receive personalized care, designed for their unique genetic makeup, when they are sick.


Jackson Laboratory is launching a biomedical research and education village in Collier County, and the University of South Florida is its first medical partner.


“For us to be part of this wonderful, wonderful opportunity in Collier County, to be part of the things that are going on with the Jackson Laboratory, is truly something we think is very special, very important,” said Karen Holbrook, PhD, USF’s senior vice president for research and innovation. “It is a very significant commitment for the University of South Florida.”


The new partnership can help provide a pipeline of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals for Southwest Florida, said Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the USF College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health. It will also provide the area with tremendous health and economic benefits, he said.


“It’s not hard to envision a day that with Jackson Laboratory expertise, USF Health’s creativity and this great county and area’s energy, that this biomedical village will become the center for personalized health in the country,” Klasko said.


USF Health’s strong research environment and academic entrepreneurial model will be assets for Jackson, said Dr. Charles E. Hewett, PhD, Jackson’s vice president and chief operating officer.


“USF Health looks toward the future of health care,” Hewett said. “Whether it’s researching the secrets of deadly diseases; helping doctors join the electronic age; or teaching surgeons how to use high-tech robots, USF Health keeps pushing the boundaries of medicine forward. As we build our partnership, that forward-thinking philosophy will help us deliver on the promise of personalized medicine.” 


In turn, Klasko pointed to Jackson’s world-wide reputation for expertise in research in mammalian genetics and pharmacogenomics. Jackson and USF Health share important philosophies, he said.


“The ability to think into the future, the ability to be collaborative, the ability to be flexible, creative and passionate – all are clearer there in Jackson Laboratory,” Klasko said.


An OB/GYN, Klasko has delivered more than 2,300 babies. He compared launching the partnership to delivering a baby, and meeting Hewett to his first date with his wife. The jokes went over well; the Naples audience gave him a standing ovation.


Naples business leaders who came out to support the venture praised the partnership. Alan Horton, retired Scripps newspaper executive and a leading supporter of the Jackson plan, called the venture “rich in potential for our community.”


“We can see some of the meat on the bones for the biomedical village concept now, I think,” Horton told the audience. “And we can see that fully fleshing this out will take some years, lots of planning and cutting-edge experience and brainpower.”


Dolph von Arx, a Naples civic leader who is the former chairman, president and CEO of the Planters Lifesavers Co., has been named the first chair of the village’s Biomedical Leadership Council. The biomedical venture represents “a tremendous, tremendous diversification opportunity for Collier County,” von Arx said.


 “We’ve got a great partnership,” von Arx said. “We are all very excited…We’re gonna go get ’em.”


Jackson and USF plan to collaborate in three key areas: research, education and clinical care.


-       RESEARCH. Jackson and USF researchers will collaborate on work in such endeavors as computational biology and bioinformatics; cancer; Alzheimer’s disease and the neurosciences; metabolic diseases; and a host of other diseases. Researchers and clinicians will work together to bring the latest discoveries into clinical practice, with an emphasis on new medicine that is tailored to respond to the individual.


-       EDUCATION. Advancing technologies demand a different kind of education for the next generation of healthcare professionals. USF Health and Jackson are leaders in medical and scientific education. The partnership will lead the way in educating students in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and emerging health professions in the areas of personalized health, pharmacogenomics, and bioinformatics. The partnership also expects to develop continuing medical education programs to help teach doctors and other practicing health professionals about these new areas of medicine.


-       CLINICAL CARE.  Jackson and USF Health will team with other health care organizations to develop a clinical campus that will provide the latest in cutting-edge personalized medicine and health care to patients from Collier County and beyond. USF already is creating new models to help patients with chronic conditions live optimistically. The partnership will be ideally positioned to provide personalized medicine across a continuum of care, from home therapies to outpatient and inpatient services.


Those initiatives will further increase the economic impact of the research and education village planned for eastern Collier County.  An economic analysis performed by the Washington Economic Group predicts that within 10 years, the research and education village will generate 7,500 jobs and $500 million in annual economic activity in cumulative economic impact in Collier County – and even more across the southwestern Florida region. The partnership with USF Health will accelerate these economic benefits.


“Collier County’s vision of building a biomedical cluster, and its determination to become a key player in the biomedical revolution are very powerful incentives for USF Health to act now,” said Klasko.


Noting that Edison State College has already committed to creating a charter high school in the research and education village, Hewett said, “There will be many more announcements like this one. We look forward to welcoming scientific, educational and medical partners from around the world.  We will also see a growing number of commercial ventures locating here. 


“This is a great day for the citizens of Collier County and southwest Florida as well as for us,” Hewett said. “Together, we will transform the economy of this region, and help southwest Floridians lead longer, healthier lives.”