M. D. Anderson, UT Health Science Center at Houston, UT System, Texas Enterprise Fund, GE Healthcare Collaborate on Center for Advanced Diagnostic Imaging
New UT Research Park Addition Could Add 500 New Jobs in First Year; Research to Impact Top Two Leading Killers: Cancer and Heart Disease
M. D. Anderson News Release 05/24/04
The University of Texas Research Park is adding a major new tenant to its growing campus, and Houston and Texas are gaining a new employer in a research park that could generate more than 2,200 advanced technology jobs in the coming decade.
Later this year, ground will be broken for a building to house the many activities of the Center for Advanced Diagnostic Imaging, a research incubator dedicated to developing innovative technologies that detect heart disease, cancer and other illnesses at their earliest – and most treatable or preventable – stages.
A collaboration of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston – partners in the UT Research Park – and GE Healthcare, The University of Texas System and the Texas Enterprise Fund, the center is expected not only to produce imaging research to advance medicine, but attract an array of start-up biotechnology companies to the campus and spur commercialization of new medical technologies.
The Texas Enterprise Fund committed a $25 million grant to secure the project. M. D. Anderson and the UT Health Science Center at Houston provided $25 million together, UT System committed $5 million and GE Healthcare is providing equipment, technology and expertise. M. D. Anderson and the UT Health Science Center will raise additional funds as needed in the coming months.
The legislature approved the Texas Enterprise Fund in 2003, at the urging of Gov. Rick Perry, to create jobs and attract economic development in the state.
Gov. Perry said, “We are leveraging the brainpower of two great medical centers, the resources of this great state, and the technology developed by a leader in medical innovations to put Texas at the forefront of a burgeoning new field of biotechnology known as biomedical imaging.”
“It’s a win-win decision for us to approve a grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund for the Center for Advanced Diagnostic Imaging. Not only are we advancing the fight against cancer and heart disease, but we’re creating up to 500 new jobs for Texas, laying the groundwork for future biotech development and enhancing the reputation of The University of Texas Research Park. Thanks to everyone working together, this one deal alone has the potential to do wonders for both our quality of life, and our Texas economy,” said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Speaker of the House Tom Craddick said, “On behalf of the Texas House, I’m elated to support this partnership that has the wonderful probability of creating jobs and saving lives.”
Ultra-sophisticated molecular imaging engineering, physics and research are emerging disciplines in post-genomic era medicine. As new therapies, surgical techniques and prevention strategies evolve from a growing body of knowledge of the basic sciences, proteomics and genomics, imaging at the molecular level offers physicians the most precise information they need – at the earliest stage of an illness – to develop the best treatment plans.
According to researchers, the future of diagnostic imaging lies in not only detecting a tumor or blood vessel blockage, but also showing what caused the negative changes to take place. In short, radiology is adding function to its traditional emphasis on form.
Juri Gelovani, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Experimental Diagnostic Imaging at
M. D. Anderson is director of the Center for Advanced Diagnostic Imaging. Gelovani and Bruce Butler, Ph.D., director of the Office of Technology Development of the UT Health Science Center, will coordinate the research activities in collaboration with the GE Healthcare team.
“The future power of new molecular imaging technologies is extraordinary, and because imaging is fundamental to many disciplines in medicine, it is an ideal collaboration to bring to the UT Research Park,” said John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and a leading proponent for biotechnology industry growth in Houston and Texas. “Currently, diagnostic imaging shows us the anatomy of the body, but with new technology, we will someday be able to understand the genetics or molecular biology of a tumor or vascular blockage. Eventually, we hope to be able to see these changes when they are in their earliest stages, when we can best help patients.”
“This important collaborative effort to create the Center for Advanced Diagnostic Imaging will help us all work together in developing new molecular imaging technologies for cardiovascular disease and cancer,” said James T. Willerson, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston. “This special partnership between two University of Texas System institutions and GE Healthcare will greatly strengthen our research effort and bring about discoveries and treatments much faster than if we had proceeded separately. It is also an enormous step forward in the development of the medical biotechnology efforts in Houston and Texas.”
According to an economic impact study performed by PageSoutherlandPage, the center is expected to create up to 583 new jobs in the first full year. Over the next 10 years, a total of 2,252 new jobs are projected in the research park as new biotechnology companies spring up.
"This project demonstrates how a great company, two great University of Texas health institutions and the leadership of our great State of Texas can combine their efforts to advance the science of medicine to further enhance patient care,” said Mark G. Yudof, chancellor of the UT System. “This enterprise promises job growth, additional private investment, as well as progress in improving health."
"The University of Texas System has joined with GE, M. D. Anderson, Health Science Center - Houston, and the state to pool our resources in order to accomplish what none could do alone. This collaboration is only the first step in attracting many other companies to Houston and to partnerships with our strong academic programs to produce new technologies for health," said Dr. Kenneth I. Shine, executive vice chancellor for health affairs of the UT System.
Innovative, creative and educated minds are expected to be attracted to the new Center for Advanced Diagnostic Imaging and the UT Research Park because of the clinical and technical research that will be under way.
“GE Healthcare is excited to participate in the establishment of this new center, which, like our company, is focused on delivering the next generation imaging technologies and treatments to healthcare,” said Joe Hogan, president and chief executive office of GE Healthcare Technologies. “Our support of this new center reflects GE Healthcare’s commitment to further advance the research in cancer and heart disease prevention and education. I am confident that this new facility will serve as a model for other research, medical technology and healthcare institutions, and we are proud to support this endeavor.”
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston will focus its studies on the use of imaging to assess as early as possible a patient’s risk for heart disease and better measure and detect vascular plaques that are most susceptible to rupture. For example, researchers will be developing new imaging contrast agents with unique magnetic and optical properties to better visualize the heart and vasculature system.
M. D. Anderson will be undertaking a wide range of clinical and technical research that complements new instrumentation and includes development of molecular probes and imaging approaches to detect early cancers through visualization of cellular, biochemical, signal transduction and genetic processes involved in the genesis and growth of cancer. New research includes development and enhancement of optical instrumentation, digital imaging, genetic and cellular tracers and new contrasting agents.
The Center for Advanced Diagnostic Imaging is the newest addition to the UT Research Park that began in 2002. Dedicated to the growth of the life sciences industry in Texas through new business formation, expansion of existing businesses, technology transfer and education of a highly skilled workforce in biotechnology, the park will have more than 1.5 million square feet of lab, office and support space when fully developed.
The UT Research Park is located on a 100-acre site on the south side of the intersection of Old Spanish Trail and Fannin, less than one mile from the Texas Medical Center. Already open on the site are two research buildings housing teams focused on cancer biology, pediatrics, metastasis and immunology. Under construction are the $125 million Proton Therapy Center that will bring the most advanced radiation to cancer patients at M. D. Anderson when it opens in 2006, and a second lab building that will be home to research on targeted therapies and molecular pathology.