I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been in my life.

This image is copyright proctected. Please contact photographer, Bjorg Magnea, for usage.U.S. Vice President Joe Biden uttered those words as he spent last Friday touring Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center which houses the Center for Advanced Cellular Therapies (CACT) to launch his new quest to defeat cancer. President Obama announced the initiative during his State of the Union address last Tuesday:

“So tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to (beat cancer). And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” stated President Obama during the SOTU address.

A diverse CannonDesign team spanning health, corporate commercial and S&T worked with Penn Medicine and Novartis to open the CACT – a facility where the Penn team will look to accelerate research with CTL019 – an investigational personalized cellular therapy to fight cancer that achieved a complete response in 89% of the initial patients who received it during early-stage clinical trials at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Several of the treated patients in these clinical trials were already celebrating one or two year anniversaries of cancer remission as early as 2013. The CACT is strategically designed to increase research efficiency, collaboration and hopefully speed-to-market with successful medicine.

Specifically, the CACT helps Penn Medicine and Novartis in the following ways:

  • While initial plans called for three Principal Investigation teams at Penn to be on one floor and another on a separate floor, the final design of the CACT brought all four on to the same floor. This increases programming efficiency of the space by 25% and strengthen collaboration and communication compared to the original solution.
  • The CACT allows researchers from different teams to work together and not in physical or figurative silos so often created in traditional labs. The design promotes a New Scientific Workplace culture which blurs the boundaries across disciplines and encourages the exchange of ideas and collaboration.
  • The layout of the CACT is strategically designed to help Penn and Novartis reduce the process of creating “hunter cells” for one patient by 50%. At the outset of this design effort, it took an entire month to tackle this for each patient. Ultimately, the new facility will bring that time down to two weeks.

Cognizant of the success Penn Medicine has been having with CTL019, VP Biden chose the CACT as a key place to launch his new effort. Penn Medicine is slated to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the facility on February, 16.

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