FAU and Memorial Healthcare System Establish Research Partnership

Memorial Healthcare System, Partnership, Research Partnership, Clinical Research, Clinical Trials, Basic Research, Biomedical Research, Patients, Healthcare

FAU and Memorial will work to develop new drugs, medical devices, software applications, and other novel treatments for diseases and disorders that affect both children and adults. (Photo by Alex Dolce)

By gisele galoustian | 11/16/2020

South Florida giants in higher education and healthcare have joined forces to form an alliance that will advance clinical research and clinical trials in the region. Florida Atlantic University and Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County have formed a “Research Partnership to Advance Clinical Trials” (Research PACT), which combines their expertise and resources in clinical research, clinical trials, basic research and translational biomedical research. Its mission: to develop state-of-the-art research tools and discover new knowledge to benefit patients and lead advances in patient care. 

“Florida Atlantic University’s Board of Trustees and all of us at the University are very excited to collaborate on this important initiative with Memorial Healthcare System. Together, we will propel the development and delivery of potential breakthrough discoveries in treatments and technologies that will benefit this region’s diverse patient population,” said FAU President John Kelly. “FAU and Memorial Healthcare System share similar goals, as well as values and culture in research excellence and serve the same communities, which make this partnership a perfect match.”

The new research affiliation brings together the scientific expertise of FAU researchers and the clinical expertise of Memorial physicians. The coordinated effort also will leverage the two organizations’ state-of-the-art facilities, as well as proficiency in various areas from cancer to cardiology and biomedical engineering to big data analytics and artificial intelligence.

“The Memorial and FAU research affiliation will usher an era of innovation in South Florida’s healthcare industry that will greatly impact our community and the lives of many patients for years to come,” said Aurelio M. Fernandez, III, president and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System. “Through thoughtful and purposeful research, we will be pioneers on many fronts while also advancing scientific knowledge.”

FAU and Memorial will work to develop new drugs, medical devices, software applications, and other novel treatments for diseases and disorders that affect both children and adults. The scope of the agreement, limited to research and research-related education, is designed to enable clinicians and researchers from each institution to more effectively collaborate with their peers and access available resources at each partner institution. The goal of the partnership is to facilitate expanded clinical trials research activity involving both FAU and Memorial researchers. The partnership will involve a multi-disciplinary approach, attracting faculty across FAU’s 10 colleges and will include nurses, social workers and other allied health specialists.

“Our partnership with Memorial Healthcare System is a ‘win-win.’ Memorial Healthcare System has a robust patient population and more than 130 clinicians who participate in more than 150 open clinical trials and clinical research studies, which are supported with a strong research infrastructure,” said Daniel C. Flynn, Ph.D., FAU vice president for research. “We have complementary research infrastructures and research expertise that span a multitude of disciplines from neuroscience to business to computer science and engineering, which are mutually advantageous for our joint research efforts.”

FAU has a robust culture of research and inquiry, which leverages regional assets, such as the ocean, patient populations, and culture and business, to advance scientific understanding, discover new technologies, and contribute to the economic vitality of the region. FAU has established research pillars focused on institutional strengths: the Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-HEALTH); the Brain Institute (I-BRAIN); the Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE); and ocean science and engineering/environmental sciences, FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Memorial Regional Hospital, the flagship facility of Memorial Healthcare System and one of the largest hospitals in Florida, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Memorial Hospital West are located in Broward and offer a variety of medical and surgical services with related clinical trials. Memorial’s comprehensive clinical research infrastructure offers patients the opportunity to participate in innovative research studies, including many treatments that would otherwise not be available locally. Among the many trials being conducted at Memorial include COVID-19, adult and pediatric oncology, adult and pediatric cardiology, stroke, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, and sickle cell.

“Memorial Healthcare System is a major Public Academic and Research Clinical Enterprise and this partnership will allow all patients in our communities to receive and benefit from the highest caliber cutting- edge therapies available,” said Candice Sareli, M.D., chief medical research officer for Memorial Healthcare System. “Memorial’s clinicians and scientists are pleased to be able to work alongside basic science researchers and the full complement of academic scholars at FAU to enable this community opportunity.”

FAU and Memorial will engage in joint intellectual property and technology transfer, joint training, and collaborative research projects and programs to include bench-to-bedside research for both drugs and devices. Areas of mutual research interest include cancer – FAU and Memorial researchers have already submitted joint research grant proposals. There also will be opportunities to collaborate on research projects in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias as well as various diseases that affect cognitive impairment.