UM System's big bet on precision medicine claims jobs, notoriety to campus

4 months 3 weeks 2 days ago Thursday, June 20 2019 Jun 20, 2019 Thursday, June 20, 2019 7:27:00 PM CDT June 20, 2019 in News
By: Morgan Riddell, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - A new $220.8 million medical facility is being called the boldest and most innovative investment in UM System history.

Located at the corner of Hospital Drive and Virginia Avenue, there is a 265,000-square-foot facility being constructed. This is expected to bring a new idea of medical research to MU. 

Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, lifestyle and environment for each person.

"Maybe [one] individual will respond best to this particular treatment and [one] individual with the same disease will respond best to a different type of treatment. That is precision health in a nutshell," said Christian Basi, an MU spokesperson.

The building that will house precision medicine research will have as many as 60 medical researchers and their teams to find personalized health care. 

Doctor Philip Payne, the Director at the Institute for Informatics at St. Louis' Washington University says bold moves like this are needed in this emerging field of research.

"This is the future of medical research" said Dr. Payne. 

If this building is to work, he says there must be some changes.

Dr. Payne said "recently the barriers have been around policy and business incentives. Why would people share data?"

The new center's focus areas will include vascular, neurological and cancer research. Basi said there aren't many facilities like this one around the country but there is a lot of national attention. 

"We are on the leading edge of this area and believe that this is a place that many other places will be at within the next 10 to 20 years," continued Basi. "We will be there by October of 2021."

MU officials are also touting the facility's impact on other types of job creation.

"We have an immediate job boost with our construction," Basi said, adding there will be hundreds of jobs created from the building alone.

Then there are the jobs from when the building is up and running.

"We are expecting to create high tech scientific jobs as well," Basi said.  

The state's recently approved budget provided MU with $10 million specifically for the construction of this building, but Basi said that won't be enough. 

"We'll be working with the state moving forward to see what other types of investments can be made, looking for donors, as well as seeing within our own budget areas what can we commit to making this facility a reality," he said.  

There is a groundbreaking ceremony being held Friday, June 21 at 11 a.m.  The  University of Missouri Board of Curators, university leaders, state and federal dignitaries and honored guests are expected to attend.  

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