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Ignite Institute Finds a Home through New Partnership with Fox Chase Cancer Center

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Ignite Institute for Individualized Health will join with Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center to launch a new Cancer Genome Institute, ending the startup Ignite's year-long search for a permanent home.

A spokeswoman for Fox Chase confirmed news of the partnership with GenomeWeb Daily News this morning.

"In establishing the Cancer Genome Institute, we are reaching for a new era in medicine, one that will engage the power of the latest molecular scanning and information technologies to transform cancer research and treatment globally," Dietrich Stephan, Ignite's president and CEO, said in a statement expected to be published today. "With its rich culture of innovation and achievement in cancer science and medicine, Fox Chase Cancer Center is the right partner at the right time for this bold venture."

Neither Stephan nor a spokeswoman for Ignite returned telephone messages left this morning.

Fox Chase Cancer Center President Michael Seiden and other officials first disclosed news of the partnership to the Philadelphia Business Journal in advance of the planned announcement. Seiden told the newspaper Stephan would play a "lead role" in organizing the new institute, and in forming partnerships to create the largest genome sequencing center in the US.

One such partnership was already announced back in January, when Ignite agreed to purchase 100 SOLiD 4 sequencing systems from Life Technologies, a deal the institute said would create the largest next-generation genomic sequencing facility in North America. At the time, the company said installation of the units would "begin in the first quarter and continue through the balance of 2010."

It is not known if Ignite will be among ABI SOLiD customers upgrading their machines from the SOLiD 4.0 to the company's recently-announced 5500 series, which will supplant the previously-announced but unavailable SOLiD 4hq.

Fox Chase has emerged as a partner five months after Stephan told GenomeWeb Daily News during an interview with editors that Ignite was on track to locate a permanent facility and begin operations at a location he declined to disclose.

The interview followed setbacks earlier this year that included the loss of much of its previously-announced funding, and subsequent collapse of original plans to open in Virginia's Fairfax County.

Stephan and the institute joined officials from Fairfax County and Virginia — including Gov. Robert McDonnell and his predecessor, Timothy Kaine — in announcing the original plan last November.

But that plan collapsed after Inova Health Systems withdrew a commitment to provide $25 million over five years to the institute, citing in a statement "the scope and scale of the project and the time needed for capital development in the current market." Inova's pullout, in turn, prompted Fairfax County to retreat from its own plan to partially finance the permanent facility by issuing up to $150 million in Fairfax County Economic Development Authority industrial revenue bonds.

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