In 2016, B.C. Cancer Agency chief Dr. Malcolm Moore traveled from Vancouver to Seattle and paid a visit to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for a guided tour. The B.C. Cancer Agency has done groundbreaking scientific research on the BRCA gene for breast cancer, ovarian cancer treatments, and precision medicine oncology; Fred Hutch is a world leader in immunotherapy. Yet it was Moore’s first visit to the research complex in Seattle. He returned impressed.
D’Avignon and his fellow co-chair of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, are pushing for more of that type of exchange. They believe there are unexplored opportunities for scientific researchers and biotechnology companies to collaborate more along the Cascadia corridor and ultimately build out a life sciences cluster across the Pacific Northwest mega-region.
“We’re trying to build a connected ecosystem of labs, companies, and governments,” D’Avignon told GeekWire, comparing the potential in life sciences to the already-flourishing technology ecosystems between Seattle and Vancouver.
Some of that work is already underway. The Seattle-based Gates Foundation has granted Vancouver-based AbCellera two projects in the past four years. In 2017, Gates敲击AbCellera研究结核抗体。两年后，生物技术公司墨迹另一项安排是480万美元的承诺，重点是预防和治疗三种高度优先的传染病：艾滋病毒、疟疾和结核病。
但领导人表示，潜在的合作，特别是在学术和研究机构之间的潜力。Pieter Cullis是温哥华纳米美森林创新网络的科学主任兼首席执行官。他的大多数合作在美国 - 加拿大边境南部的宾夕法尼亚州和波士顿，但他渴望挖掘南方150英里的生命科学社区。
On the one hand, there is a surging interest in and demand for everything from diagnostics to therapeutics to vaccines. The existing life sciences players on both sides of the border have been hard at work.
Fred Hutch has been on the cutting edge of real-time research to track community spread of COVID-19 variants. The Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle打破记录when it began the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial just 66 days after the virus’ sequenced genome was released to the scientific community by Chinese researchers.
In November, AbCellera收到美国食品和药物管理局对巴那韦单抗的紧急使用授权，巴那韦单抗是一种与礼来公司合作开发的治疗药物，可将COVID-19患者的住院率降低80%。
“已经有很多低头工作的crisis — even wartime — mode at the provincial and federal level,” said Sue Paish, CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster and co-chair of Canada’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel. “From a public health perspective, we’ve been looking more east-west than north-south.”
Dr. Charissa Fotinos, deputy chief medical officer of the Washington State Health Care Authority, echoed that view. “The most collaboration that we have done has been within the U.S. between the western states,” she said. “I’m not aware of a lot of cross-border collaboration.”
D’Avignon remained bullish, however, that proximity will continue to matter once the pandemic is in the rearview mirror and the border reopens.
“We have eight people [in this conference] in the middle of saving lives in a global pandemic living within 200 miles of each other,” he said. “Relationships matter and the potential for collaboration at speed by getting to know each other is powerful.”