UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh announced Tuesday a new center for immunology, cancer treatment and aging that will be the vanguard of a new bio-innovation center.

The UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center will be part of a redesigned eight-story, 200,000-square-foot building located at 5000 Baum, a former Ford car plant and showroom. It will focus on the immune system, bringing together research from the university and UPMC that is geared toward use at the clinical level at UPMC facilities and, for some, commercialization via UPMC Enterprises. UPMC is investing $200 million into the ITTC.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff hailed the ITTC and the center as a place where cutting-edge research and the ability to translate it into health care would be pre-eminent. Gallagher talked about how it would be a center for new frontiers of science and technology with the emphasis on immunology and other life sciences.

“This is translational science to develop specific kinds of products … We want that translational science (development) to stay in Pittsburgh,” Romoff said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto talked about the role the building and the region played in the early auto industry as a Ford plant and showrooms.

“(There’s) a whole new future for this entire region being built on this ground,” Peduto said.

Said Fitzgerald: “It will be a magnet for the best and brightest scientists who will want to come here.”

The initial focus will be on helping transplant patients’ immune systems from rejecting transplanted organs, treating cancer patients with immunotherapy, and increasing lifespan and easing concerns of aging.

Beyond the UPMC facility, the site on Baum also will be used to build up Pittsburgh’s life sciences innovation and commercialization of technologies and treatments that are being developed by Pitt researchers. The goal is to create an Innovation District that is centered around 5000 Baum.

It will include labs, offices, startups and also space for other companies that partner with either UPMC, Pitt or the startups.

“We are creating an unprecedented ecosystem — one that connects basic science discoveries from Pitt with life-changing advances from UPMC while leveraging the catalytic power of industry partners,” said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher in a statement. “It’s a combination that will transform immunotherapy care and help us tackle some of medicine’s greatest challenges.”

The renovation of the building is scheduled to be completed within the next two years under a partnership with Wexford Science + Technology, a Baltimore-based developer that works with university research and academic medical centers. Among its products are the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem, N.C., the University of Maryland BioPark and uCity Square in Philadelphia.

Source: Pittsburgh Business Times  |  By Paul J. Gough   |  February 13, 2018