Translational researchthe art of carrying a concept through to a tangible, profitable productis a hot topic among medical centers that would like to see the science developed in their laboratories brought to the next level. For St. Josephs, partnering with Georgia Tech brings together doctors with world-class engineers and scientists, says Kirk Wilson, president and chief executive officer of St. Josephs. It was a perfect match.
Phase one of the project includes 38,000 square feet of space for surgery, laboratories, testing and animal housing, and is expected to be completed by early 2009. The research facility will be housed in an existing building undergoing renovations. Phase two will include a new 15,000-square-foot imaging center for testing software systems, but no target date has been set for that construction to begin, Wilson says.
When the renovated facility is finished next year, about 120 researchers, including physicians from St. Josephs Translational Research Institute, will move about 20 minutes away to the Georgia Tech site from its current location on the hospital campus. At that point, Georgia Tech staff will be able to pick the brains of leading doctors in a range of specialties including cardiac and vascular diseases, orthopedics, oncology, gastroenterology and diabetes. The university and hospital are already working on projects together, but being located in the same space will strengthen that research, says Nicolas Chronos, a physician who is president of St. Josephs institute.
Having the medical staff present will provide invaluable access for the engineers working on those projects, says Mark Braunstein, a physician and professor at Georgia Tech who is an entrepreneur who helped start Patient Care Technologies, an electronic patient- record and care-management systems developer that Meditech acquired in 2007. Initially the university and hospital are expected to test two projects: a congestive heart failure management tool and a medication reminder devicework that will be much easier when everyone is on the same campus, Braunstein says. You put engineers together with physicians, you can do some innovative research.
Georgia Tech began work on its 10-acre technology park about four years ago, says Wayne Hodges, vice provost in the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, a small-business center that helps early-stage incubator companies find financial and other resources to develop. The institute also hopes to move companies from the incubator to the technology park as they grow. One 130,000-square-foot facility was constructed more than a year agowith two companies, CardioMEMS and pharmaceutical firm Altea Therapeutics Corp., sharing space there nowwith room for four buildings in total. The goal of the park is to allow the universitys engineers to build partnerships with industry, Hodges says. It provides results for both of us.
The university and St. Josephs have been discussing the collaboration for the past year. Having the hospital house its research institute on the campus made sense, Hodges says. The idea of them putting their preclinical (research) in the park is kind of a catalyst, he says. Plus, university students and faculty will have hands-on opportunities to observe how doctors work and what type of space and tools they need to practice medicine, which will help them improve workflow designs, he says.
Research parks attached to universities have become a growing source of technology, development and revenue for the partners involved. According to a survey of 134 research park directors in the U.S. and Canada conducted in 2007, these centers account for more than 47,000 acres and include 124 million square feet of space. A large majority of survey respondents, 94%, said that they have room to expand, with a full build-out expected to reach 275 million square feet of space, according to the report conducted by research and development conglomerate Battelle Memorial Institute in conjunction with the Association of University Research Parks.