Montgomery County, state and federal officials joined medical system partners from the University of Maryland at North Bethesda to sign an agreement Thursday establishing a health informatics center in North Bethesda.
According to the memorandum of understanding, the county is providing $15 million in fiscal year 2023 — and $5 million in each of the following years, through fiscal year 2028. The agreement also states that 3 million dollars will be needed from the federal government for the exercise. 2023.
County officials and University of Maryland medical system officials said in an embargoed news conference with reporters on Wednesday that the deal would be a game-changer for the region because it builds on the core of life sciences in Montgomery County.
County Executive Marc Elrich (D) and University of Maryland Health System officials from all of the institution’s campuses said the center will help create space for research and study on the computing, outside of the traditional wet lab spaces seen in other parts of the County and Region. It will also feature artificial intelligence and related technologies, officials said.
The institute will be located near the North Bethesda subway station.
It will focus on health informatics, the use of virtual and augmented reality, and connecting with local federal health institutions to “catalyze a clinical data science ecosystem in North Bethesda that attracts FDA investigators.” and NIHs, [University of Maryland Baltimore] and [University of Maryland College Park] faculty, medical bioinformatics educational programs and students, and industry partners, enabling the expansion of “dry” computer labs, virtual meeting rooms and classrooms,” according to the agreement.
“The work they will be doing is of national importance,” Elrich told reporters at an embargoed press briefing on Wednesday. “It’s not a small college doing an interesting small college project, it’s the kind of work that is transformational.”
Dr. Amitabh Varshney, dean of the School of Computer, Mathematical and Life Sciences at the University of Maryland, said the facility will directly employ about 100 people, including investigators (grant providers), researchers, scientists data, visualization experts and students.
Researchers are important because they can provide substantial grants to carry out important research in the field, whether in cancer research or to help diagnose and treat long-term problems, such as kidney failure, a said Dr. Mark Gladwin, Dean of the University. from the Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine.
Gladwin said about 30% of the money to run institutes like this is “hard money,” meaning direct government money and other start-up funds. . The remaining funds come from researchers who wish to offer grants to pursue specific research, he said.
Pharmaceutical companies, healthcare companies and consulting firms have expressed interest in getting involved in the project, Gladwin said.
Elected officials and university partners spoke during the signing of the memorandum of understanding on the roof of 909 Rose Avenue, as construction workers worked to build a high-rise office building on the other side from the street.
University of Maryland Medical System President and CEO Mohan Suntha said the deal is what can happen when local government and university partners share a common vision.
“We describe ourselves very proudly because of this partnership as a health system that is an academic health system,” Suntha said. “What this really means is that we take responsibility for thinking about today and setting the tasks for tomorrow. As we provide care today, we take responsibility for educating future health workers.
County Council Vice Chairman Evan Glass said the agreement is a microcosm of how far the North Bethesda area has come in recent decades.
“Just a few years ago it was a big parking lot with a Toys R Us, and look at it now,” Glass said.
It’s unclear what office space the institute will be in, but Glass and other lawmakers said it will hopefully help spur future development, including near the North Bethesda subway station.
Liz Price, vice president of real estate and parking for WMATA, told Bethesda Beat in an interview that the deal for the institute is significant because it secures $10 million for infrastructure upgrades needed for the development. mixed-use on the 12 acres next to the train station. This will be used for things like improving sidewalks and roads, Price said.
Price added that WMATA is considering some kind of mixed-use development on its property. With the deal, it’s not unreasonable to expect some kind of project to happen in the next five to 10 years, she said.
Bill Tompkins, president and CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp., said the institute is also expected to spur new opportunities in the hospitality sector, general healthcare industry, cybersecurity companies and non-profit organizations.
Tompkins said Elrich deserved a lot of credit for the deal, despite some political opponents saying economic development isn’t his greatest strength.
“When you think about the complexities of our college system, where you have multiple partners – lining them up is not a slam dunk,” Tompkins said. “You have to give Marc Elrich another degree today as an economic development leader. Because even though his reputation is that it’s not his main focus, he personally made a lot of things happen.
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