School of Medicine partnership with Inova Health System continues to move forward

The $112 million partnership consists of a research institute, satellite campus

inovacenter

The Inova Center for Personalized Health — a 220,000 square-foot building due to be renovated by the end of this year — will house the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute.

Courtesy Inova Center for Personalized Health

The School of Medicine has continued progression in its partnership with Inova Health System. When the partnership was first announced in fall of 2016, the affiliation consisted of a joint research institute as well as a regional campus in which medical students could complete clerkship and post-clerkship rotations. 

The Virginia General Assembly allocated $28 million in funding for the partnership in 2015. The University’s contribution of $28 million was matched and doubled by Inova’s contribution of $56 million.

The research institute, the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute, will focus on translational science where scientific discoveries are turned into treatments, drugs and devices that directly improve patient health. 

Specifically, it will recruit investigators working on projects related to genetics, genomics, bioengineering, systems biology, developmental biology and computational biology. Additional partnerships with other institutions are being explored.

Dr. Richard Shannon, executive vice president for health affairs, described the institute as an accelerator of biomedical research. The partnership aims to create a new model for discovery and fast track findings that have human application.

The regional campus will be able to accommodate up to 72 medical students to complete the clinical rotations that span the last two and a half years of medical school. 

Dr. Randolph Canterbury, professor of Psychiatric Medicine and Internal Medicine, said that the campus gives medical students the opportunity to have clinical education in a high-volume, urban environment.

Canterbury also noted the campus gives medical students from Northern Virginia, who compose about half of total students, a chance to be closer to their own families.

Since 2016, the affiliation has gained approval from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, accreditation bodies whose input is required for implementation of the program. 

Both the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute and the School of Medicine Regional Campus will be located in Inova facilities in Fairfax, with University faculties both there and in Charlottesville working together regularly to manage the arrangement and needed renovations.

The Inova Center for Personalized Health — a 220,000 square-foot building due to be renovated by the end of this year — will house the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute. The regional campus will be located at Inova Fairfax Hospital and is due to open in spring of 2021, at which point medical students will begin to fully participate in the program.

Shannon said that Inova is an ideal place to conduct globally competitive research.

“The future of this type of intensive research experience has to happen in a large metropolitan hub,” Shannon said. “And that’s not Charlottesville, and it’s not Blacksburg.”

Canterbury stated that the partnership between Inova and the University has been well-established for over 15 years, and he anticipates excellent opportunities to be created by the affiliation. 

“The INOVA faculty have a passion for teaching and protected time to do it,” Shannon said. “That is an enormous benefit to medical students and for the University.”

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