North Carolina has its Research Triangle; now Virginia has its Research Rectangle. In November, UVA announced a $112 million partnership with Inova—an integrated health system serving Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C., area—that it hopes will allow it to take a larger role in the surging field of biotechnology.
As part of the deal, a UVA medical school regional campus—featuring a state-of-the-art human genomics program—will be featured on a rectangle-shaped, 117-acre site that is near Inova’s flagship hospital in Fairfax County. An existing Inova structure, the Claude Moore Education Building, is being refurbished.
UVA’s executive vice president for health affairs, Dr. Richard Shannon, says Raleigh-Durham’s Research Triangle served as the template. The campus, near the intersection of Interstates 495 and 66, will allow scientists to more easily collaborate with colleagues from the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Department of Defense. “We think that this particular location on the nation’s Beltway will help to accelerate the biotechnology evolution here in Virginia,” Shannon says.
The mission of the partnership is to discover and commercialize treatments for cancers and other diseases. To that end, Shannon says faculty from Virginia’s school of engineering and the Darden School’s i.Lab will be on site to expedite the process. Because of required regulatory approval, the campus won’t be open until 2021 at the earliest. A more immediate benefit of the partnership, Shannon says, is that students will be able to do their clinical rotations at Inova’s hospital, taking advantage of a broader patient population. The project will also ease crowding on the Medical School Grounds in Charlottesville.