I had the opportunity to once again attend the Foley Leadership Series sponsored by the Foley Lardner Law Firm meeting held a few weeks back at the CityArts Factory on South Orange Ave. in downtown Orlando. This facility is a way cool place to visit as it’s an old theater (built in 1916) renovated and converted into a number of art galleries on the first floor—complete with a working glass arts studio—and a full size theater on the 2nd floor with adaptability to hold and cater to a fairly large conference group. For those of you into interesting art and architecture—it’s a “must see” and a good reason to visit downtown Orlando.
The conference gave a nice update on current cancer research being conducted at the Burnham Research Institute along with an update of the progress on opening the Lake Nona medical complex (read more in a nice article by Robyn Shelton).
For those of you not familiar with the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, it’s a world class research center originally based out of La Jolla, California with over 600 scientists on staff on the west coast.
They are currently located in a temporary 14,000 square foot space in southwest Orlando, but plan to open a 175,000 square foot facility in the Orlando Lake Nona medical research campus (located between the Orlando International Airport and the University of Central Florida in southeast Orlando).
The institute is still on track to complete “phase 1” and open this April. They currently have around 65 employees and will expand to over 300 employees as the institute goes forward. Although Burnham does research in various biomedical area, the focus here in Central Florida will be on diabetes and obesity—a field that is relatively understudied in the basic sciences. Florida will provide an excellent source of patients for clinical investigation as our State has a fairly high rate of both obesity and diabetes. Current research being done at other diabetes centers around Florida will also provide opportunities for collaboration.
Burnham is poised to become a serious player in the life sciences with easy access to just about any other biotech center in Florida along with being adjacent to a good airport.
It’s good to see the biomedical industry really taking shape here in Florida. California and Massachusetts—take note!