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Cleveland Clinic Opens Florida Research and Innovation Center to Address Diseases Like COVID-19

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   July 09, 2020

Research will focus on cancer and infectious diseases; the facility is the latest in a string of related initiatives by the health system.

COVID-19 has a fresh enemy in the form of a new research facility dedicated, in part, to combat it.   

Cleveland Clinic Florida has officially opened the Florida Research and Innovation Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida, which was established last November. The new center will advance innovative translational research, focused on immuno-oncology and infectious diseases, including COVID-19, according to a news release.

The Center is the latest development in a network of initiatives which aim to produce "therapies that address some of the most challenging medical conditions we face,” said Joseph Iannotti, MD, PhD, Interim CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic Florida and chief academic and innovation officer.

  • The Florida Research and Innovation Center will complement and expand research underway at the Florida health system’s five hospitals and the Lerner Research Institute, which is home to 190 laboratories on Cleveland Clinic’s main campus in Cleveland, Ohio. "The scientific teams will closely collaborate, tapping into resources at both facilities to develop new treatments for patients around the globe," according to the release.
  • In addition, the Florida facility is closely integrated with Cleveland Clinic's Center for Global and Emerging Pathogens Research, established in April 2020. This Cleveland, Ohio-based center brings together research experts in virology, immunology, genomics, and population health to broaden the understanding of emerging pathogens—including the Zika virus and SARS-CoV-2 (which causes COVID-19)—and to expedite critically needed treatments and vaccines, the health system says.

Michaela Gack, PhD, serves as scientific director of The Florida Research and Innovation Center. She joined Cleveland Clinic Florida in July 2020. Gack has an extensive background in microbiology and infectious disease with research focusing on the immune system’s response to viruses.

Situated on an eight-acre site, the 107,000-square-foot research facility features laboratory space, biosafety level 3 facilities for work with infectious agents, and office space. The facility provides "an exceptional training environment for researchers," according to Cleveland Clinic.

“Cleveland Clinic’s robust research infrastructure will be further expanded with the opening of the Florida Research and Innovation Center,” said Tom Hamilton, PhD, vice chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute. “Through team-based discovery, forward-thinking science, translational research, clinical trials, and innovation, our vision is to bring together a world-class team of experts within a leading-edge research facility.”

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic

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