Inova takes steps to create personalized health ‘ecosystem’
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
On the former Exxon Mobil campus in Fairfax County, Inova Health System plans to create an “innovation district” with treatments tailored to patients’ genetic makeups, environments and lifestyles.
In September, the county Board of Supervisors approved updates to Inova’s expansion plans for the site. The county’s newly approved Comprehensive Plan envisions another 3.8 million square feet in possible development for the 117-acre campus, now called the Center for Personalized Health.
The long-range goal, according to Inova officials, is to create “an ecosystem for academic, commercial, research, technology and other partners to flourish and collaborate with one another and our clinicians.”
Inova expects the first phase of development to be completed during the next 25 years.
However, in late November, the health system made a shift in the campus’ focus, deciding to shut down Inova Strategic Investments, its venture capital program, and the Inova Personalized Health Accelerator, a hub for health care startup businesses, at the end of the year.
“We have a relentless focus on patient care, and although these are valuable activities, they do not align with our new strategic focus,” Inova President and CEO Dr. Stephen Jones said in a prepared statement.
Decisions about what will replace the departing programs on the campus are still under discussion, Siciliano says, and the seven startups in the accelerator are currently being assessed by Inova’s finance division, which will decide which companies the health system will continue to invest in. In essence, she says, the idea of building an ecosystem for health care innovations is still in place — but now it will be entirely centered around patient care.
“Thanks to recent land use approvals from Fairfax County, Inova is now poised to create an innovation district on the Inova Center for Personalized Health campus, working with a variety of partners to ultimately advance patient care,” Siciliano says.
Other parts of the campus, including the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute, a collaboration between Inova and the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, will still move forward.
Alexander Prevost, a spokesperson for the U.Va. Health System, says most new research “will be centered around the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute [GGBRI] and the potential treatments that arise from the research conducted.” GGBRI’s focus is on projects related to genetics, genomics, bioengineering, systems biology, developmental biology and computational biology.
The GGBRI building is still being retrofitted for a research buildout, officials say, although the health system is in discussions now with U.Va. about a possible change in scope and name.
In addition to more academic and research space at its campus, plans for housing, retail and hotels also remain in place. Inova is a leading health-care provider in Northern Virginia — and the largest nonprofit employer in Fairfax County, and it already has entered into a comprehensive research and medical educational partnership with George Mason University and the University of Virginia.
Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, calls the Center for Personalized Health “a huge magnet for talented medical professionals and scientists who want to change and improve health care.” He predicts that “the whole area of personalized medicine will open up. This is going to be a long-term opportunity. It’s a competitive process and we’re going to continue to do it until we win.”
By 2035, Inova estimates that activity related to the campus will generate $1.18 billion in economic impact, including $68 million in local and state tax revenue.