State-of-the-art facility designed to support medical research, learning and entrepreneurship
Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2021 year in review.
Less than a mile south of the Loop 101 in northeast Phoenix, on a plot of land that just two years ago was nothing but dirt, a new silhouette that represents the future of health care in Arizona has cropped up against the backdrop of the Valley it will serve.
Arizona State University’s brand-new Health Futures Center, home of the Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care, is the latest development in the nearly two-decades-long relationship between the nation’s most innovative university and the recognized world leader in patient care, medical education and research. Through the alliance the two organizations have a shared goal of bringing the brightest minds together to accelerate cutting-edge research discoveries, improve patient care through innovation, and transform medical education to enhance health outcomes at individual, community and national levels.
The state-of-the-art facility will support interdepartmental research and collaborative programs with Mayo Clinic — including ASU’s College of Health Solutions, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute — on a new campus, establishing a nexus of research, teaching and meeting space.
“We don’t know what innovations lie ahead,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “But what we do know is that this campus, this facility, will be driven around the notion of innovate, innovate, innovate. We want this campus, this facility, the new Health Futures Center to be a part of that catalytic process.”
Video by ASU Media Relations and Strategic Communications
Over the years, ASU and Mayo Clinic have worked closely on programs that range from nursing to medical imaging to regenerative and rehabilitative medicine to wearable biosensors. They have also worked together on dual degree programs, a nursing education program, research projects, more than 80 joint faculty appointments and numerous joint intellectual property disclosures.
The Health Futures Center will house leading-edge facilities for biomedical engineering and informatics research labs, advanced simulation health care technology, and workplace and meeting spaces. Its design maximizes the amount of interdepartmental shared space to generate ongoing opportunities across the Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care.
“Mayo Clinic has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Arizona State University through our Alliance for Health Care, and this new proximity through the opening of the Health Futures Center will expand our strategic intersections,” said Richard J. Gray, vice president of Mayo Clinic and CEO of Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “As an international destination for care in Arizona, our team is relentlessly advancing solutions for serious or complex conditions within a patient-centered model. To this end, we are privileged to have the No. 1 university for innovation as our neighbor as we — together — create more opportunity for health care discovery.”
ASU’s new center is the first of several buildings planned to dot the surrounding landscape in what is expected to become a hub for innovative medical research and development in the coming years. ASU leases the property that the center is located on from the Arizona State Land Trust; the city of Phoenix provided funding for infrastructure improvements, and ASU paid for the construction of the building.
“Biomedical research, innovation and advanced medical manufacturing will be the backbone of the workforce in the Phoenix of the future,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “The exciting thing is that we are approaching that future at lightning speed. The discoveries that occur because of this important alliance will not only improve the future of patients who seek care, it will also dramatically improve the economy and quality of life throughout the city of Phoenix.”
The 150,000-square-foot Health Futures Center is adjacent to Mayo Clinic’s Phoenix campus and connected through a desert pathway. The center’s first floor houses a combination of research and collaborative space, including wet and dry labs, a movement lab with cardio and strength research capabilities, learning studios, a demonstration kitchen and a 300-person auditorium for continuing education, presentations and events. The second floor is home to the MedTech Accelerator, an initiative that shepherds medical device and health care IT early-stage companies to accelerate their discoveries to market and acquire funding. The third floor houses a simulation lab, where ASU nursing students and current practitioners will have access to cutting-edge technology and real-life environments as part of their training.
“When I was a student, we used an orange for our simulation to give an injection” said Judith Karshmer, dean of ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. “Things have changed. The simulation center creates such a realistic environment that they (students) have a chance to think through patient care, not just do patient care.”
Karshmer said the alliance with Mayo Clinic allows researchers and faculty to be proactive about the latest medical technology advances and the newest evidence-based patient care, closing the gap between education and practice.
The two halves of the 150,000-square-foot Health Futures Center — which will house researchers from Mayo Clinic and several ASU schools and colleges — are connected by a courtyard on the ground level and a bridge above.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU
The building's east and west windows were designed on slightly north-facing angles to reduce solar gain and help the energy efficiency of the center.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU
The new Health Futures Center is adjacent to Mayo Clinic's Phoenix campus, on Mayo Boulevard just south of the Loop 101.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU
The third floor houses a simulation suite, where ASU nursing students and current practitioners will have access to real-life environments as part of their training — demonstrated here by research technician Karam Abi Karam (left) and assistant research technologist Piyush Hota. The spaces look like exam rooms, hospital rooms and even an apartment for learning at-home caregiving.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
Biotechnology and biosciences doctoral student Oscar Osorio demonstrates the Breezing device, which measures resting metabolic data from a patient's breath using a disposable, single-use sensor cartridge, syncing the data through a mobile app.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
The Health Futures Center features both formal offices and informal study/collaboration areas.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
The center’s first floor houses a combination of research and collaborative space, including wet and dry labs.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
Piyush Hota performs an experiment in the Forzani lab at the Health Futures Center on March 4.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
Research technician Sandra Miranda and postdoctoral researcher Bo Fu discuss an experiment in the Forzani lab.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
There are a number of instruction spaces, including learning studios, a demonstration kitchen and (pictured) two two-story classrooms that can be combined into one space as needed. Here, Anita Murcko leads her biomedical informatics class March 4.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
The center features a 300-seat auditorium with four large screens and designed acoustics. Every seat has a swing-up desk surface and there's power in every other row. The auditorium can be booked for conferences or continuing education events.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU
Graduate research assistant Mark Sprowls wears a mask measuring oxygen and breathing levels while on a stationary bicycle in a demonstration of the movement lab, set up with cardio and strength research capabilities.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
Electrical engineering postdoctoral researcher Bo Fu (center) and chemistry postdoctoral researcher Manni Mo work on their projects alongside other lab members at the Health Futures Center on March 4.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
Researchers remove and replace samples in the deep freezer at the Health Futures Center. The temperature gauge on the freezer's main door in the hallway read -78 degrees Celsius.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU
From left: Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, ASU President Michael Crow, Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia and Phoenix Councilman Jim Waring turn over the first ceremonial shovels-full of dirt at the center's April 25, 2019, groundbreaking.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU
“I think the most exciting thing that’s going to come out of this building, we can’t even envision yet,” she said.
Rafael Fonseca, director of innovation and transformational relationships at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, sees the Health Futures Center as poised to transform the health care workforce by:
- Advancing disruptive, medical, health science and professional education for the future of health care and lifelong learners.
- Optimizing health and the human body by enhancing human performance across the lifespan and through collaborative research that explores innovative treatments and, ultimately, results in cures.
- Streamlining and connecting health-care delivery through novel capabilities provided by digital health tools that reach patients everywhere.
- Remaining laser-focused on biomedical innovation through co-creation and co-development of new medical devices and startup companies aimed at the modernization of health care.
For those in health care and beyond, experience in the pandemic has demonstrated that transformative outcomes are possible with open collaboration, a key factor in the Health Futures Center’s design and aspirations. Jacqueline Carmona, a graduate student in molecular and cellular biology at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU who is engaged with researchers at the center, said collaborating across fields “keeps the research moving forward, faster.”
“We’ve seen it with the current epidemic — the fact that so many labs worked together, we were able to gather a lot of information in less than a year,” said Carmona. “… I would tell future students that this is a great time to get into research. There have been so many advances in computational biology; we have better imaging and collaborations like the one with ASU and Mayo Clinic that allows for students to be mentored by experts in the field.”
Mayo Clinic is currently reinvesting in Arizona and doubling the size of the Phoenix hospital campus through the largest capital expansion project in the organization’s 157-year history. The co-location of the ASU Health Futures Center is occurring at a key moment of growth for both organizations. Just this year, ASU has grown its research, innovation and living spaces through the opening of the 850 PBC building, the latest additions to the Novus Innovation Corridor and the intergenerational living and learning complex Mirabella at ASU. Construction is underway on a number of other projects, including the high-performance research facility Interdisciplinary Science and Technology 7, which will house the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory.
“These investments in the health of our communities, in the robustness of our research, even the outlook of our planet — these are crucial steps toward a better future for all of us,” Crow said. “The Health Futures Center and the incredibly innovative discoveries that happen within its walls will benefit all of us.”
Top photo: The 150,000-square-foot Health Futures Center will house researchers from several ASU schools and colleges that will benefit from the proximity to the Mayo Clinic's Phoenix campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU