A High Point for LA’s Newest Biotech Hub

The construction of Los Angeles County’s newest biotech hub hit a high point with the ceremonial topping off of LA BioMed’s $63-million research building and incubator.

Expected to open in December 2018, LA BioMed’s 78,000-sq. ft. facility will be an integral component of the biotech hub envisioned next to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with LA BioMed President and CEO David Meyer, Richard Lundquist and other dignitaries at the topping off ceremony. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

The County and philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist split the $6-million cost to build out the incubator, where scientists can receive technical support and business services to help them advance promising new biomedical discoveries to the next stage of commercialization. The 18,000-sq. ft. incubator would house about 25 LA BioMed spinoff and outside startup companies.

“This is a major milestone in Los Angeles County’s ongoing efforts to promote the bioscience industry,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This new bioscience incubator will help start-ups become successful companies, bringing new medical breakthroughs to market while creating well-paying jobs throughout the County.”

LA BioMed President and CEO David Meyer at the topping off ceremony. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

“Our mission of generating social impact through breakthrough therapies for orphan diseases has taken a huge step forward with this topping off ceremony as we move closer to becoming an essential hub of bioscience with a global reputation and impact, all in the name of changing, and saving, lives,“ said LA BioMed President and CEO David Meyer.

In addition to the incubator, the four-story facility is currently slated to include:

  • A wet lab where research teams will work on new diagnostics and therapeutics;
  • A dry lab that will be used for computational biology and medical informatics – allowing re-searchers to process the massive amounts of data that comes from precision/personalized medicine and telemedicine; and
  • A 160-seat lecture hall, conference rooms, a data center, numerous offices and a freezer farm for bio-banking of tissue samples.

The County and LA BioMed are also exploring the development of a 15 to 20-acre biotech park on County property adjacent to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus and LA BioMed’s research campus.

LA BioMed is a nonprofit biomedical research institute founded in 1952 that has pioneered lifesaving treatments and technology, including heart scans, cholesterol testing to preventing blindness in newborns, enabling premature newborns with fragile lungs to breathe, and testing newborns for thyroid deficiency.

Based in Torrance, LA BioMed has more than 100 principal investigators — PhDs, MDs and MD/PhDs — working on more than 600 research studies. Last year, one of its research efforts, Endari, became the first treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for pediatric patients with sickle cell disease, and the first new treatment approved by FDA in nearly 20 years for adult patients.

A 2014 study by the Battelle Memorial Institute concluded the Los Angeles regional economy could support three to five bioscience hubs, which could be located on the County’s medical campuses. Aside from partnering with LA BioMed, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas is also looking at opportunities to accommodate bioscience at the former Martin Luther King Hospital in Willowbrook, in partnership with Charles Drew University.

Rendering of the LA Biomed research facility and bioscience incubator.