Ignite Institute Receives Support from Commonwealth of Virginia, Fairfax County
News Nov 18, 2009
Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine has announced the Commonwealth’s support for The Ignite Institute, a nonprofit collaborative enterprise, focused on translating innovations in personalized medicine into patient care.
The Institute will be located in Fairfax County and has formed a major founding partnership with Virginia’s Inova Health System. To date, the Institute has raised more than half of its five-year operating budget. Additional partners will be announced in the coming months as the Institute completes its full start-up financing.
“The Ignite Institute is transformational for Virginia’s positioning as a world-class center of excellence for research and development,” Governor Kaine said. “The advanced medical technologies that will be developed at Ignite will be part of the key drivers in our mission to reform and improve America’s health care system.”
The Institute, which will be based just outside of Washington D.C. in Fairfax County is specifically focused on creating and applying the latest genomic, biomedical and technological innovations to enable truly individualized health care on a population wide basis.
The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority worked with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to prepare the state’s proposal to secure the project for Virginia, and also to secure financing for the state-of-the-art 300,000 square foot research building.
Leading genomic researcher and Ignite Founder and CEO, Dietrich Stephan, Ph.D., was also appointed as Executive Director of the Translational and Personalized Medicine Center at Inova. The Inova partnership, which includes a $25 million funding commitment from one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest health care systems, is a cornerstone of the collaborative venture.
“The Ignite Institute promises to be an entirely new model in the real world application of personalized medicine,” said Knox Singleton, CEO of Inova Health System. “Inova’s partnership with Ignite will give our patients extraordinary access to some of the most leading edge diagnostics and treatments anywhere in the world. Equally important, through highly sophisticated genomic testing and counseling, it will allow individuals to optimize a lifetime of good health, avoiding many acute disorders and pushing back the onset of chronic disease.”
Dr. Stephan’s dual role with Inova reflects Ignite’s focus on assuring that innovations originating from the Institute and its partners can be rapidly developed and applied to bring world class health care to the community clinical setting. Inova, a nationally recognized comprehensive health care network in the National Capital region, will play a key role in Ignite’s development by contributing transformational health care facilities focused on disease prevention and personalized medicine. The Inova facility will be the clinical engine implementing new therapeutics, diagnostics and devices that target the molecular underpinnings of disease.
“Chronic diseases such as cancer, neurological and cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes are placing a crushing burden on our health care system,” said Dr. Stephan. “The clinical application of personalized medicine, based on the aggressive translation of new discoveries, will have a major impact in reducing or eliminating these burdens. Our vision is a world where the lives of patients and their families are improved, and we see more efficient and effective health outcomes across the entire population. We created Ignite to demonstrate this impact here in the National Capital region.”
Equally pivotal is the decision from the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide an additional $25 million in support. Governor Kaine approved a $3 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Fairfax County with the project. Ignite Institute will be eligible to receive an incentive grant totaling $22 million, subject to General Assembly approval, in increments of $5.5 million per year to be paid out to the Institute over a four-year period. The performance grant is tied to job creation, commitments of additional outside capital, and research collaborations of significant value with Virginia universities.
Support from the Commonwealth also includes the use of new facilities in the stateowned Center for Innovative Technology building along the Dulles Toll Road near Washington, D.C. Long-term Institute facilities will be in Fairfax County with commercialization activities occurring across northern Virginia and the broader National Capital region. Pending final approval by the Board of Supervisors, the Institute secured financial backing from Fairfax County, including industrial revenue bonds, which private investors would purchase, intended to finance construction of the permanent headquarters.
“Virginia has been ranked the best state for business for four years in a row by Forbes.com and the top state for business by CNBC for two years, underscoring the Commonwealth’s efforts to provide an environment that cultivates entrepreneurship,” said Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine. “We see Ignite’s potential to bring new jobs, develop new health information technologies, improve standards of care, and expand invested capital in the commonwealth. Ignite is coming to Virginia at the right time for our economy and our health care system.”
In a new study in cells, University of Illinois researchers have adapted CRISPR gene-editing technology to cause the cell’s internal machinery to skip over a small portion of a gene when transcribing it into a template for protein building. This gives researchers a way not only to eliminate a mutated gene sequence, but to influence how the gene is expressed and regulated.