The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Mayo Clinic are forming a strategic alliance designed to promote a broad spectrum of collaborative research, the development of new technologies and clinical tools, and the design and implementation of novel education programs. Officials from the university and the clinic recently signed an agreement establishing the formal relationship.
The Alliance provides a framework for broad cooperation in individualized medicine by integrating efforts in three areas: basic, translational and clinical research; bioengineering, especially for point-of-care diagnostics; and the development of tools and methods in computational biology and medicine.
“The University of Illinois has well-recognized capabilities in basic and computational sciences, genomics, bioengineering and technology generally,” said Lawrence Schook, the U. of I. Gutgsell Professor of Animal Sciences and the director of the Division of Biomedical Sciences. “When combined with Mayo’s outstanding capabilities across the spectrum of biomedical research and clinical practice, this yields an alliance with enormous potential to transform medicine.”
“We are utterly delighted to be working with Illinois,” said Dr. Franklyn Prendergast, the director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. “We have worked diligently over the past 18 months to get to this point.
“What now emerges is a plan that builds on complementary capabilities of the two institutions in science and medicine honed and strengthened by the similarities in our Midwestern cultures and values.”
Initial areas of scientific focus for the Alliance will include projects in genomics, the microbiome, bioinformatics and other computational science including the use of petascale computing, imaging, nanotechnology and tissue engineering. Several joint scientific projects are already going on and several more are being planned. The number of collaborative projects is expected to grow even faster in response to the announcement of a request for applications for a planning grant for joint programs.
Planning is under way for bilateral educational programs in bioengineering, computational medicine nanotechnology, genomics innovation and entrepreneurism.
The Alliance intends eventually also to co-sponsor a variety of symposia and seminars, the first of which was held earlier this spring. The alliance expects to be sustained long term by funding from federal grants and philanthropy and from a variety of entrepreneurial projects involving commercialization of collaboratively generated intellectual property and agreements with corporate partners.
A steering committee is being formed to oversee the Alliance. All projects will require joint collaboration.