The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center for Advanced Molecular and Immunological Therapies received a strong vote of support from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors with the June 28 approval of $4 million in funding for the life sciences innovation hub being developed on the Phoenix Bioscience Core in downtown Phoenix.
The Center for Advanced Molecular and Immunological Therapies, or CAMI, builds on the idea that the most effective defense against health issues is the body’s natural immune system. CAMI will advance knowledge of the immunology of cancers, infectious diseases and autoimmune conditions. The goal is to develop novel strategies for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases, including COVID-19 and long COVID.
“The Center for Advanced Molecular and Immunological Therapies is designed to respond to health crises that have arisen and will arise in the future, to advance health care activities within the region, and to provide additional fuel to the local economy’s engine,” said Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president for the University of Arizona Health Sciences. “This financial investment from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will catalyze advancements in both health sciences and economics as CAMI becomes the anchor for an innovation district that will establish Phoenix as a national hub for cell- and gene-based therapy research, startup activity, and corporate engagement.”
The $4 million investment comes from federal funds provided to Maricopa County through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. Over the past two years, the county has used these federal recovery dollars to provide financial assistance to keep people in their homes, keep small businesses running, track and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and strengthen the region’s infrastructure through new housing and health care initiatives. Maricopa County is committed to distributing ARPA funds in an equitable way with a focus on the most vulnerable residents and areas disproportionally affected by COVID-19. The investment in CAMI, designated for the design, construction and project management, aligns perfectly with these broader Maricopa County goals.
“There is a great need to expand research of new immunotherapies to combat ongoing COVID-19 effects, especially among our most vulnerable residents,” said Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4. “Our investment in the University of Arizona Health Sciences and CAMI aligns with our commitment to improving the health of Arizona’s residents while also offering significant tangible fiscal benefits to Maricopa County and the state. We are proud to help welcome CAMI to Phoenix.”
The work done by CAMI researchers will support the health of underserved communities and address the disproportionate impacts of current and future pandemics on the most vulnerable Arizonans. Studying the underlying causes of disease susceptibility and developing an immune profile of Arizonans at high risk for infection can lead to the creation of targeted, precision-based treatments to protect Arizona’s most vulnerable residents.
With an estimated return on investment of 2.5-to-1 in the first 10 years, CAMI is expected to increase economic activity in Arizona by at least $3.9 billion with an increase of at least $140 million in new local tax revenue for Maricopa County and Phoenix. Maricopa County is the fourth-largest county in the nation in terms of population at 4.5 million and the fastest-growing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
CAMI was started with New Economy Initiative funding provided to the University of Arizona by the state legislature and allocated to UArizona Health Sciences. It has received strong government and philanthropic support, including $150 million in state funding announced last year.