COLUMBUS, Ohio — Soon, scientists for the MetroHealth System will develop and manufacture new gene therapy treatments to fight cancer and other diseases. They’ll do it in a new, state-of-the-art viral vector facility now under construction — just the latest development at the Cleveland Innovation District, a nearly $600 million investment by the state of Ohio, JobsOhio, and Cleveland’s five major medical and academic institutions.
It’s a prime example of how investing in the bioscience and life sciences innovation ecosystem — and thinking big about it — can radically alter our state and improve the health of our communities. Investments such as these drive economic growth for our state; attract leading bioscience companies, clinicians and researchers; and deliver cutting-edge therapies and cures directly to our local communities.
At BioOhio, we work to advance our health and life sciences industries by working with our members to connect and grow, advocating for policies and funding that establish Ohio as a bioscience leader, and building awareness of the industry and the breakthroughs made here.
For example, the viral vector facility from MetroHealth is part of the public health system’s push to innovate cancer treatments built from cell and gene therapies that are revolutionizing medicine. But it’s not simply innovation for innovation’s sake: MetroHealth’s focus on equity and community health means that these breakthroughs and new therapies will be available in local, historically underserved Cleveland communities and rural counties nearby that often miss out on this access.
The Metrohealth System joins academic and medical partners including Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland State University and University Hospitals, which are all making major strides at the Innovation District and beyond with a goal of delivering care to those who need it most. As a signal of the collaboration these investments can also inspire, MetroHealth’s facility will give the entire Innovation District access to gene therapy technologies.
The impact of this life sciences ecosystem extends across the state, as Cleveland’s new developments sit at one end of an “Innovation Corridor” running down Interstate 71 through Columbus’ and Cincinnati’s own innovation districts. All told, Ohio’s nearly 4,300 bioscience companies produce $7.1 billion in annual payroll for some 84,000 employees across the state. With an ongoing, concerted effort from the state and our work at BioOhio to advocate for and promote this impressive industry, we expect to see continued growth. After all, the Cleveland Innovation District alone is expected to create 20,000 new jobs, 10,000 new STEM graduates, $3 billion in new research and $3 billion in economic impact.
This investment, and public-private partnerships like this, also have the follow-on effect of attracting some of the country’s top health science minds, which now include:
· Dr. William Tse, now at MetroHealth and Case Western, who got his start at Case and, after nearly a decade away, was drawn back to Ohio from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, due to opportunities such as this. Dr. Tse, director of hematology and oncology and deputy director of the MetroHealth System Cancer Center, is building an immunotherapy program from the ground up, recruiting colleagues from across the country to join him.
· Dr. Timothy Chan, who was recruited from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell School of Medicine, now leads the Center for Immunotherapy and Precision Immuno-Oncology at Cleveland Clinic.
It’s inspiring and important for our state to see growth like this, not just for the new development and facilities it brings, but for the lifesaving impact it is having on patients in our community and across the country. These clinicians and researchers are certainly drawn to the resources these labs and facilities provide, but they are also steeped in a mission to deliver cutting-edge research directly to Ohio patients. That is what we are seeing now from the Cleveland Innovation District. And, ultimately, that is why our state must continue to invest in this bioscience and health science ecosystem.
Eddie Pauline is president and CEO of BioOhio.
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