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World-Class Research Keeps Health Care in Charlotte, NC on Leading Edge

Discover how the health-care industry in Charlotte, N.C., and the region's life sciences cluster are creating breakthroughs in care and treatment.

By Cary Estes on August 24, 2015

Charlotte, NC
Charlotte / Jeff Adkins

Supporting more than 10,000 jobs, Charlotte USA’s innovative life science and biotechnology cluster is fueling growth and new frontiers of opportunity in the health and life sciences sector for the region and beyond. Charlotte USA is home to two dozen bioscience companies and more than 350 support organizations. Additionally, the region is home to the largest concentration of biomedical device companies in the state. Nutrition, bioinformatics, translational research, and advanced clinical trials represent core regional strengths driving new discoveries and advances in human health. The North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis is transforming science at the crossroads of health, nutrition and agriculture. This 350-acre research facility represents an innovative public/private partnership between universities, corporations and health-care organizations. The center works to unite researchers from seven of the state’s universities to explore relationships between nutrition, genetics, and health in unlocking secrets to longer and healthier lives.

North Carolina Biotechnology Center

“We’re the face of biotech for the Charlotte region,” says Corie Curtis, executive director of North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Greater Charlotte office. “We have two research entities and explore areas such as phytochemicals in fruits, vegetables, exercise physiology, genetic studies and personalized nutrition. We offer business loan programs, serve as a granting institution, house an extensive library, and importantly, serve as industry connectors through our jobs network.” At the UNC Charlotte, the College of Computing and Informatics helps apply analysis of big data to help propel life sciences breakthroughs. Research areas are found in bioinformatics, health information, computer science and computer engineering. Preparing technology professionals through leading-edge research, education and collaboration with the community, the college has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency.

The college’s Bioinformatics Research Center’ is a $35 million, 75,000-square-foot facility that houses wet/dry laboratories and core facilities allowing for state-of-the-art gene expression, proteomics, microscopy, crystallography and computing. Clinical Trials Research Leading the way nationally for clinical trials and advanced clinical trial research are two highly regarded hospital-based health-care organizations in Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health. Carolinas HealthCare System, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the country, has more than 900 care locations. With its tremendous community reach, comprehensive data management, internationally regarded researchers and clinicians, CHS is continually involved in groundbreaking clinical trials.

“Where you live shouldn’t determine how you fight diseases like cancer,” says Mark King, assistant vice president of clinical trials for CHS’s Levine Cancer Institute. “We’re working to provide the highest quality care throughout our entire region.”

CHS’s Cancer Clinical Trials has developed a search feature as part of a mobile app available to patients, physicians and the public.The feature lets users access existing clinical trials at the Levine Cancer Institute. “Patients and referring physicians from across the country should find it helpful in identifying a cancer trial from our portfolio,” King says. Novant Health also holds a leadership role in the region offering advanced medical treatment and innovative research. “We have more than 300 clinical trials currently under way in the Charlotte area,” says Wendy Hobbs, senior director, Novant Heath Clinical Research. “Two areas where clinical trials research are blooming in the region are heart and vascular and oncology. One study conducted in Charlotte led to FDA approval of a one-of-a-kind subcutaneous implantable defibrillator providing protection from sudden cardiac arrest.” Novant uses clinical trials research to discover new ways to prevent, detect and treat disease. New drugs, drug combinations, new surgical procedures, and treatments are all explored through this type of research. “The advanced levels of care we offer locally make Charlotte a great hub for clinical research as we offer partners a large population to draw from,” Hobbs says. “This benefits the patients as they don’t have to travel to get the highest quality of care.”

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