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New medical research institute will locate in Fairfax County

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Inova Health System is teaming up with well-known geneticist Dietrich Stephan to create The Ignite Institute, a nonprofit medical research organization, in Fairfax County. The $200 million venture would create 415 jobs and boost Virginia’s profile in the life sciences industry.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Fairfax leaders announced the project today, noting that the institute would be the first research venture built around the application of personalized medicine innovation in a community health setting.  “The Ignite Institute adds to Virginia’s position as a world-class center of excellence for research and development,” said Kaine. 
Ignite plans to focus on using the latest biomedical and technological innovations to understand the bases of chronic illnesses such as cancer and to provide individualized health care. “Virginia is a state where personalized medicine can fully take root and flourish,” said Dr. Stephan, who will head up Ignite as its CEO and President. “The highly educated work force, national IT leadership, excellence in health care and proximity to Washington, D.C., make this the ideal place to launch the institute.”  Stephan also will hold a role at Inova, as executive director of its Translational and Personalized Medicine Center. Before turning his attention to the Northern Virginia project, Stephan worked as the deputy director of discovery research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix.
Inova, one of the mid-Atlantic region’s largest not-for-profit health care systems, has commited $25 million to the new venture. “The Ignite Institute promises to be an entirely new model in the real world application of personalized medicine,“ said Knox Singleton, Inova’s CEO. “Inova’s partnership ... will give our patients extraordinary access to some of the most leading edge diagnostics and treatments anywhere in the world.“ 
The Center for Innovation Technology will temporarily house the institute and build a portion of its facilities as web lab space. Once Ignite moves into a permanent 300,000 square-foot building, the wet lab space would become available for the incubation of future companies.
The Fairfax County Economic Development Partnership worked with the state’s economic development agency to snag the project for Virginia. Kaine approved a $3 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Fairfax with the project. The institute also will be eligible to receive an incentive grant totaling $22 million, subject to General Assembly approval, in increments of $5.5 million a year over four years. The performance grant is contingent on job creation, commitments of additional outside capital and research collaboration with Virginia universities. George Mason University and George Washington University in Northern Virginia have reportedly signed on as partners.  Other partners are expected to be announced soon as the institute completes start-up financing.


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