Medical lab with high aims founded in Chengdu

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Tianfu Jincheng Laboratory. [photo provided to]

Tianfu Jincheng Laboratory (Frontier Medical Center) was opened and put into operation in Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (CDHT), Sichuan province, on Nov. 23. 

This move marks a solid step in the research of key core technologies in the field of life and health, and will provide high-level innovation platform supports for the construction of a science and technology innovation center with national influence in the Chengdu-Chongqing region in southwest China.

As one of the four key laboratories of Tianfu Laboratory, a major innovation platform project funded by Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, the newly founded medical lab is jointly established by CDHT, Sichuan University and other institutions.

Focusing on major human diseases such as major chronic diseases (malignant tumors) and oriented by clinical value, the lab aims to master the "bottleneck" technology and open up the channel between applied basic research and industrialization. It will also try and establish a leading full-life cycle pharmaceutical device creation system in the world, and realize 0-to-1 breakthrough, 1-to-10 transformation and “10+N” industrialization, so as to improve the quality of people's health comprehensively.

The lab will serve the implementation of key national development strategies as well as the development of local economy. With the goal of solving the practical needs of major clinical diseases of human beings, the lab will focus on the development of key technologies in the field of human life and health that the country has not yet mastered, focusing on the 3+N research direction of original target discovery, new drug research and development, innovative medical device research and development and precision medicine. It will try to form a whole-chain pro-innovation ecology integrating research, transformation and industrialization.

By doing so, the lab intends to give full play to the advantages of scientific and technological innovation, attract global research resources to the CDHT to jointly promote technology transfer and results transformation in the region and beyond, and thereafter form an efficient open and sharing system.

According to the CDHT biological industry department, the lab will become a main platform to enhance the zone’s research and innovation capacity in medical science and relevant fields in the future, and it will work closely with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, the Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies of Peking University and other research institutes to jointly hatch more R&D bases. And the lab will also collaborate with some big-name companies in related industries, including BGI and Huawei, to build more research findings transformation grids, and thus form a lab-base-grid lab-industry pro-innovation ecology.

The lab's core area is located in the Xinchuan zone, adjacent to Xinchuan TOD, with a planned investment of 10 billion yuan ($1.39 billion) to form a research base covering an area of more than 1 million square meters.

CDHT is working on a list of the first batch of projects the lab will carry out. The planning of these projects follows the principles that they should be conducive to helping the lab make breakthroughs in the world, grab leading positions among its peers and strengthen and supplement relevant industry chains, with focus on meeting urgent clinical needs in practices.

It is expected that over the next three to five years the lab can be building the largest biobank in the world, the first standardized animal model database of diseases in China, the largest AI intelligent computing center with independent core database in the country, gather a group of high-end talents, and realize the listing of a batch of companies developing 10-20 innovative drugs and 15-30 innovative medical devices. The lab aims to strive to become one of the world's first-class labs in its field by 2030.

Up to now, the construction of the lab has already made some concrete progress. More than 20 innovative service platforms, including the National Precision Medicine Industry Innovation Center and the National Disease Molecular Network, have been founded in it, and 146 projects, including research on brain influence guiding neuroregulatory treatment of mental diseases, have been successfully incubated and transformed into more than 60 key projects on its various platforms.

With well-known scientists in the field as its core team, the lab has accumulated a high-level innovation research team of over 2,000 members led by academicians, such as Wei Yuquan, Zhang Xingdong, Wang Guangji and Yang Zhenglin. Collaborating scientists in the laboratory have published five papers in the world's top journals such as Science, Nature and Cell, accounting for more than 90% of the life science discipline in the province.

In order to further absorb high-level talents, the lab is building a talent introduction and management system according to the principle of "setting posts according to needs, selecting and hiring according to posts, classified management and independent cultivation". The lab will soon start a new recruitment process to select a deputy director of scientific research management and nearly 30 senior scientists from all over the world. The recruitment information will be published on its website soon, through which the job applicants can submit their resumes.

In recent years, CDHT's biomedicine industry has developed vigorously and formed a good industrial foundation. It has gathered more than 3,000 pharmaceutical enterprises, such as HitGen, Hinova and AstraZeneca, among which 10 has been listed. It has also founded six national-level platforms, including the largest national safety evaluation center for new drugs and the only national precision medicine industry innovation center in the country. It ranks the third in the comprehensive competitiveness ranking of China's biomedical industrial and research parks in 2022.

According to CDHT, it will take the founding of the lab as an opportunity to further strengthen practical cooperation with universities and institutes, expert teams and leading enterprises to further deepen the research on the frontier and key technologies of biomedicine, further promote the deep integration of innovation chain and industrial chain, and strive to make a number of major original, iconic and leading achievements in the future. In the process, the lab will try and build itself into a source of life and health innovation, and help CDHT to accelerate its construction as a world-leading science and technology park.

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