THE LATEST PROGRESS OF THE
BIOSCIENCES IN ARIZONA
Hard data on metrics tracked since 2002, plus notable recent developments across the ecosystem.
Making an Impact
Arizona’s Investment in Bioscience Delivers Results
From 2016-2018, Arizona bioscience jobs grew faster than the state’s overall growth rate of 6.2%.
In 2018, bioscience workers’ annual wages were nearly $18,000 above Arizona’s private-sector average.
From 2017-2018, wages for bio workers nationally jumped 4.1%. In Arizona, they rose even faster.
The gold-standard measure of research funding hit another new high in 2020.
Bio R&D at Arizona’s universities grew at more than twice the national rate of 12% from 2016 to 2018.
VC funding for Arizona bio firms hit a record high in 2019 even as bio funding slipped nationally.
In 2018-2019, Arizona universities received 180 patents—48% in bio—up from 119 in the previous period.
The new bio firms created from university IP in 2018-2019 represented 52% of all university spinouts.
Data current as of April 1, 2020 (NIH data current as of April 1, 2021), based on reporting from TEConomy Partners and U.S. Department of Labor.
Seeing Bioscience Success
biosiences in arizona
TGen, universities form union to track spread of virus
The Arizona COVID-19 Genomics Union, comprised of researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the three state universities, tracks the spread and evolution of the new coronavirus through the genomic sequencing of Arizona patients. The group also confirms that the first case of COVID-19 in Arizona in January 2020 was successfully contained.
ASU Biodesign Institute develops saliva-based COVID-19 test
The first FDA-approved saliva-based COVID-19 test in the western United States, developed by Arizona State University researchers, provides a less-invasive and cheaper alternative to the nasal-swab test. Meanwhile, University of Arizona researchers develop an antibody test using a blood draw. Separately, ASU receives a $12.5 million federal contract to help build the Serological Sciences Network for COVID-19 to study immune responses.
NAU launches center to test COVID-19 drug candidates
The Pathogen and Microbiome Institute at Northern Arizona University repurposes its existing biodefense research infrastructure to create the COVID-19 Testing Service Center. Researchers grow the SARS-CoV-2 virus and then test new drugs against it.
Universities track COVID-19 through wastewater
ASU, UArizona, and NAU monitor untreated wastewater to track spread of the coronavirus in Tempe, Tucson, and Flagstaff. The ASU research helps to launch the startup Aquavitas, which signs a federal contract for expanded studies. UArizona efforts likely prevent a surge in student cases by identifying two asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in a dorm.
TGen North researchers create early tests to identify disease
Scientists at TGen North develop an early test for COVID-19 and team with Flagstaff-based Poba Medical to produce about 10,000 COVID-19 test kits per month. TGen researchers later identify a molecule made from DNA— miR1307—that may influence the severity of the disease.
Barrow Innovation Center develops N95-substitute masks, face shields
The Innovation Center at Barrow Neurological Institute engineers reusable N95-substitute masks through a process of 3-D printing and silicone molding to create a tight seal, and develops other PPE prototypes, including face shields and general surgical masks.
Student-run Luminosity Lab at ASU wins international face-mask challenge
ASU students win a $500,000 prize in a worldwide competition for their design of a face mask to protect against COVID-19. In addition, Luminosity Lab develops two low-cost sterilization systems— one device using vaporized hydrogen peroxide to sterilize N95 masks, and a second using ozone to sterilize clothing and reusable masks—and creates the online PPE Response Network, enabling providers to request needed equipment.
Fashion incubator switches gears to make reusable hospital gowns
FABRIC Tempe, a fashion incubator that supports apparel entrepreneurs, makes more than 500,000 reusable, FDA-approved isolation gowns for health-care workers at local hospitals and on the Navajo Nation.
Banner Alzheimer’s plays leading role in breakthrough blood test
Scientists unveil a highly accurate blood test may be able to detect Alzheimer’s disease as early as 20 years before the onset of cognitive impairment. Banner Alzheimer’s Institute of Phoenix leads the international study that could dramatically impact research, treatment, and clinical care.
Phoenix Children’s becomes first in the U.S. to use new robotic technology
The newly FDA-cleared Medtronic Stealth AutoguideTM cranial robotic-guidance platform for neurosurgery is introduced by Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s during surgery for pediatric patients suffering from a range of neurological conditions.
HonorHealth Research Institute leads clinical trial for severe COVID-19 patients
Patients on a ventilator with COVID-19-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome participate in a clinical trial of the novel drug ruxolitinib. Meanwhile, HonorHealth opens its sixth hospital, Sonoran Crossing Medical Center, in north Phoenix with 70 inpatient beds.
Banner Health expands footprint in East Valley
Banner Ocotillo Medical Center in Chandler offers emergency care, intensive care, endoscopy, and women and infant services in its 124-bed, 240,000-square-foot facility. The Phoenix-based system also announces a $54 million, 80,000-square- foot sports-medicine center will be built on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Scottsdale.
Texas-based group plans to develop six Arizona hospitals, including in rural areas
Dallas-based Exceptional Healthcare Inc. will invest $150 million to develop six hospitals in Arizona, starting with the first hospital in the city of Maricopa, followed by Prescott and Yuma.
New UArizona business incubator opens in Oro Valley
The University of Arizona Center for Innovation at Oro Valley opens its 4,000-square-foot incubator with the capacity to support up to eight bioscience startups. The center partners with the Bioindustry Organization of Southern Arizona on a competition for startups.
Moonshot at NACET to provide services to Navajo entrepreneurs
Moonshot at NACET, an entrepreneurial-development program based in Flagstaff, will provide business planning and entrepreneurship training to Navajo entrepreneurs and existing businesses through a $150,000 grant provided by the USDA Rural Business Development Grant Program.
Three Phoenix startups named finalists in international pitch competition
i-calQ, BMSEED, and Equus Innovations are three Arizona firms among 30 finalists in the BIO International Stadium Startup contest. The startups enable medical tests and results from a smartphone, help scientists study traumatic brain injuries, and treat equine injuries.
Statewide pitch competitions honor bioscience companies
Venture Madness awards $15,000 in the medical category of its competition to Phoenix startup Additive Implants Inc., creator of cervical spacers for back and neck surgeries, while the Arizona Innovation Challenge names NeoLight and Sentinel Monitoring Systems, which provides rapid and real-time microbial monitoring, as 2020 awardees.
Fifth annual Arizona Bioscience Week features television special
The 2020 Arizona Bioscience Week pivots to a virtual format with a one- hour television special, Celebrating Life & Science, daily online community- educational programs and panels, and the White Hat Life Science Investor Conference, featuring 32 presenting bioscience firms.
GT Medical Technologies raises $16M, gains FDA approval for brain therapy
A year after raising $10 million, Tempe-based GT Medical Technologies Inc. raises another $16 million for commercialization and receives FDA approval to use its targeted radiation therapy on newly diagnosed patients with brain tumors.
NeoLight earns $7M in capital for neonatal therapy
NeoLight, a Phoenix-based medical-device company working to bring to the home hospital-grade neonatal care technologies, including jaundice treatment, raises $7 million in financing from Dignity Health, HonorHealth, and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his wife, Ashley.
New pharma manufacturer Medivant Health opens Chandler facility
The company’s 33,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, featuring full automation, begins making generic drugs to address national shortages using vials made to exact dosage specification.
Startups receive federal grants, FDA clearance
Tucson-based drug startup EnduRx Pharmaceuticals is awarded a $1.4 million Department of Defense grant to advance a new drug for breast cancer. Meanwhile, Emagine Solutions Technology of Tucson receives FDA clearance to market its VistaScan mobile ultrasound platform, and SafKan Health, also of Tucson, receives FDA approval of the first automated ear-cleaning device.
Caris Life Sciences grows Phoenix presence
Texas-based Caris Life Sciences, which previously acquired a TGen spinout, continues to expand lab space, to house as many as 1,500 additional employees in Arizona, as it advances precision medicine to target cancer.
TGen research on cancer in dogs leads to launch of commercial company
Vidium Animal Health’s SearchLight DNA test enables veterinarian oncologists and pathologists to use genomic-based precision medicine to better detect, diagnose, and treat cancer in dogs.
Latest figures show strong research expenditures for state universities
UArizona ranks No. 19 among U.S. public research institutions, with more than $734 million in total research activity, according to the latest National Science Foundation data. With $640 million in research activity, ASU is sixth among universities without a medical school and No. 26 overall among public universities, while NAU ranked No. 139 among public universities, with $58 million.
Phoenix Biomedical Campus adds Wexford research facility, new wet lab and research space
Construction on the Wexford Science and Technology building, to be anchored by ASU, is completed, and the CEI LabForce incubator and ASU begin moving in. Meanwhile, a $20 million project begins building out 48,000 square feet of lab and research space for the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix within the Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building.
C-Path awarded federal contract to improve neuroscience disease trials
Critical Path Institute, celebrating its 15th year, is awarded an FDA contract to improve the efficiency of trial design for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. C-Path also launches a consortium to accelerate medical-product development in sickle cell disease and a data-sharing collaboration to accelerate drug development for Type 1 diabetes.
UArizona awarded grants to fight skin cancer and Alzheimer’s, increase screenings for Native Americans
The University of Arizona Cancer Center is awarded nearly $10 million through two grants to prevent and decrease the risk of cell carcinoma and to continue collaboration with Native American communities to remove barriers for colorectal cancer screenings. Other grants will further research on therapies to address progression of Alzheimer’s disease, investigate how cells respond to stress, and detect liver tumors.
Mayo Clinic, TGen researchers target most lethal pancreatic cancer
A study led by Mayo Clinic and TGen identifies drugs already in use for different cancers and non-cancer conditions that can be used to target the most aggressive and lethal form of pancreatic cancer.
ASU breaks ground on Mesa City Center academic building
The partnership between Arizona State University and the city of Mesa will include a $73.5 million downtown Mesa building that will include technology programs to explore augmented reality, virtual reality, and 3D modeling for innovations that could aid health care.
Construction milestone reached on Creighton University’s Phoenix campus
The $100 million, 180,000-square-foot Creighton University Health Sciences Phoenix campus building at Park Central moves toward completion of construction. The facility plans to open in 2021 and welcome future physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, and physician assistants.
UArizona veterinary medicine accepts first class
The first class of UArizona’s new College of Veterinary Medicine in Oro Valley— the first public veterinary medicine program in the state—includes 110 students, with 46 from Arizona.
$200 million ASU science building tops out on way to 2021 opening
The $192 million Interdisciplinary Science and Technology building project at ASU, which will be home to leading-edge research and labs, tops out its construction, with plans to open in 2021.
STEM celebrations encourage youth to study science
The Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration attracts more than 2,000 community members for the seventh straight year, bringing families together for events promoting science, technology, engineering, and math. The Southern Arizona Research Science and Engineering Foundation receives a record- breaking 2,225 science project submissions for its annual fair.
ADVANCING THE BIOSCIENCES AND IMPROVING HEALTH OUTCOMES