The University of South Florida made a major investment in cardiovascular research with the groundbreaking today (Dec. 17, 2013) of the USF Health Heart Institute.
The $50 million, five-story, 100,000-square-foot facility will be the center of the university's medical research into risk factors and new treatments for heart disease and related diseases of stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. The research is expected to boost local investment in high-wage jobs, business partnerships, patents and technologies that could lead to spin-off businesses in and around Tampa and Hillsborough County.
“USF is working tirelessly to make heart disease less of a threat to the health and well-being of our community. Today, we take a huge step forward in our efforts as we begin work on building our new USF Health Heart Institute,” says USF President Judy Genshaft. “We’re creating the scientific infrastructure that will make Florida a world leader in combatting devastating diseases.”
The Heart Institute will create a synergy for "bench to bedside to bench" discoveries that aid health care patients, says Stephen Liggett, Vice Dean for Research at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine
. Liggett is co-acting director for the Institute along with Arthur Labovitz, chairman of Morsani College's Department of Cardiovascular Sciences.
Liggett describes the bench as the research that is translated into patient treatments at the bedside. In turn those treatments can reveal new avenues for additional productive research. The institute will focus on advanged diagnotics, clinical trials for new medicines, genetic and stem cell therapies and DNA tailored treatments based on a patient's genetic makeup.
USF Health recently began its first genomic trial in partnership with the American College of Cardiology by linking DNA analysis from blood samples to the cardiology college's heart disease database of millions of patients.
“The sharing of basic and clinical research data in both directions can lead to better outcomes,” he says.
Increased investment in research is intended to get to the root causes of heart disease. "Right now the pipeline for new drugs and new diagnostics is pretty dry," he says.
Heart disease among men and women is the leading cause of death and annually costs the United States more than $312 billion in health care costs, medicines and lost worker productivity, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Florida heart disease is second behind cancer as a cause of death.
The project is supported with nearly $22 million from the state and Hillsborough County. Another $30 million will be needed to complete construction. An opening date will be determined by how soon those funds are secured.
USF expects to invest as much as $25 million in faculty recruitment and resources for genomics-based medicine.
As the county's population ages, this type of research will become more important for the community, says Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe. "It's an excellent investment," he says.
Among USF's partners at the Health Heart Institute are Florida Hospital and its Pepin Heart Institute, Florida Cardiovascular Institute and Tampa General Hospital.
The Heart Institute will be in the center of the USF Health complex located at the northwest corner of Holly and Magnolia drives. Nearby are the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, Moffit Cancer Center and Morsani College of Medicine. There will be an auditorium, offices, laboratories and a clinical care center.
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Stephen Liggett, USF Health; Mark Sharpe, Hillsborough County