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City of Phoenix, ASU agreement will boost Phoenix Biomedical Campus

May 19, 2015

The Phoenix City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to expand the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus, adding an endeavor that partners Arizona State University and the medical research firm NantWorks.

Under the agreement, the university will lease land from the city for the development of new biomedical research facilities and programs in partnership with NantWorks.

The project will significantly add to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in size, capabilities and number of skilled bioscience professionals.  

ASU President Michael M. Crow told the City Council that he saw the public-private project as an opportunity to apply university research assets to a ground-breaking effort that could transform medical care.

"We are excited about this opportunity,” Crow said. "We see this as an opportunity to advance ASU and to help the City of Phoenix advance."

The project will build on the strengths of ASU, a leading research university, and NantWorks, a leader in the health, biomedical and medical research fields that was founded by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a renowned surgeon, medical researcher and entrepreneur.

The land Phoenix leases will be for development, investment in public infrastructure at the site, and investment in job training to support development of permanent jobs that result from the project.

The project is designed to catalyze and accelerate growth in pharmaceutical and health-solutions industries that are devoted to precision medicine and the use of data and research in the design of diagnostics and treatments for disease and disease prevention. Most of these efforts initially will focus on advancing cancer detection and treatment.

ASU and the City of Phoenix have a substantial partnership that has flourished in the past 10 years, and includes the development of the 10,000-student ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus that houses ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, College of Health Solutions, College of Public Service and Community Solutions, and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“I look forward to ASU joining the great family of institutions at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus that have changed the face of Arizona’s economy,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “Collaboration between ASU and its development partner NantWorks will capitalize on the strengths of both institutions and continue the momentum of this important biomedical hub.”

"It's my pleasure to welcome ASU and NantWorks to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus,” said Councilwoman Kate Gallego. “This important and innovative work will not only help improve health outcomes in Phoenix and around the country, but this project will serve as a catalyst that could bring a burst of new energy to Phoenix's already growing bioscience industry. By bringing both innovation and high-wage jobs to our community, today's announcement promises to bring quality jobs in a variety of fields to District 8."

“ASU and NantWorks share the belief that important medical advances must be integrated quickly into society, where they can do the most good,” Crow said. “Mayor Greg Stanton and the City of Phoenix have shown a remarkable desire to help bring the pieces together in the most effective way that will benefit the region for many years to come. In integrating the work of Dr. Soon-Shiong and his approach to health solutions, this project will advance the downtown biomedical campus and it will transform health-care delivery, ushering in the age of precision medicine.”

Crow said ASU has many current research projects that fit precisely with the work and goals of NantWorks and its affiliates. He cited research into biomarkers, precision medicine and DNA nanotechnology at the Biodesign Institute, work in biomedical informatics and in the science of health-care delivery in the College of Health Solutions in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, and the theoretical cancer work of Regents' Professor Paul Davies and his collaborators, as examples of the “out-of-the-box” thinking emblematic of ASU’s approach. 

“Both ASU and NantWorks are dedicated and committed to using the power of supercomputers and cloud-based integrated analysis to bring personalized and precise cancer therapies to patients,” said NantWorks CEO Soon-Shiong. “Through collaboration, we can help ensure that discoveries, new approaches and clinical advances reach patients more quickly and improve medical outcomes. We are at one of the most exciting flexion points in the history of medicine whereby informatics, predictive modeling and immunotherapy such as natural killer cells will transform cancer care as we know it today. The forward-looking vision of Mayor Stanton and the City Council and the leadership in this city and at ASU has inspired us to enter into this partnership.”

ASU and NantWorks will develop a Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at ASU, where ASU research activities and researchers and faculty will form joint research teams with NantWorks and other future users.

ASU will provide staffing and operational support for a joint decision support center with NantWorks drawing on ASU expertise aligned with NantWorks diagnostic, therapeutics and informatics activities and ASU research interests.

Together, they will create needed research linkages between the two institutions, including connections to ASU’s Biodesign Institute, the Department of Biomedical Informatics, the College of Health Solutions, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Subject to final approval by the Arizona Board of Regents of the lease terms, ASU and NantWorks have agreed to reserve the approximately 7 city-owned acres between Fifth and Sixth streets and Fillmore and McKinley streets for the proposed health-solutions project to be developed in phases. The first phase would include 200,000 square feet of buildings.

In addition to the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine at ASU, the site will include:

• A NantWorks and ASU decision support center and molecular tumor board supporting both research and commercial diagnostic activities.

• NantWorks mission-control facility to monitor patient’s health status through connected devices.

• NantHealth’s high-tech manufacturing facilities to produce novel immunotherapies for cancer and other disorders.

• NantOmics diagnostic facilities for rapid, next-generation sequencing.

NantWorks has committed at least $75 million in facilities, equipment and start-up costs to the initial phase of the project.