November 16, 2022

Agreement Signed That Will Create ‘University of Maryland 3—Institute for Health Computing’ Research Facility and Academic Presence in North Bethesda

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich was joined last week by U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) to establish the “University of Maryland 3—Institute for Health Computing (UM-3-IHC).” The Institute will include research in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR).

The agreement will create a research facility and academic presence in the heart of the County’s bio-life science corridor that will serve as an anchor and attraction to developers and businesses. It also will provide new student experiential learning and job opportunities near the North Bethesda Metro Station, formerly known as the White Flint Metro Station, in the Pike District.

To watch a recording of the event, click here. To view the MOU in its entirety, click here.

The new institute’s location in North Bethesda’s Pike District, near the NIST, NIH, FDA, Walter Reed, the Henry Jackson Foundation, and the Naval Medical Research Center, will provide a unique opportunity for this area to emerge as the prime location for this novel and urgent cutting-edge research. The new facility will bring together world-class researchers from the University System of Maryland’s partner institutions prominent in artificial intelligence, machine learning and the virtual/augmented reality fields with researchers and clinicians at the UMMS.

“Almost four years ago, I began meeting with life science companies and University system leaders about creating a center of life science research in Montgomery County,” said County Executive Elrich. “We are the center of the fourth largest bio-health cluster in the country, but the only one in the top 10 not anchored by a graduate level research institution. While we have amazing resources in government institutions like NIH and FDA and our leading bio-science companies, this Institute plugs the gap in academic research. Moreover, it will be on the leading edge of the growing marriage of computing—data visualization, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence—to biological research. This convergence of computing and lab work will only grow as it promises to speed and broaden our ability to address health outcomes that will benefit Montgomery County and beyond. I am thrilled that UMCP, UMB and UMMS will place this Institute near the North Bethesda Metro, which is close to Federal facilities and life science companies and will be a catalyst for the growth of companies in the life sciences and in the field of AI, and will offer new opportunities for internships, experiential learning and jobs for students and graduates of Montgomery College and the Universities of Shady Grove. This partnership with the University of Maryland system will be transformational for all involved. I am grateful to the University of Maryland system for their partnership.”

The County Executive also expressed his gratitude for the strong community support the County has received from the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, the Pike District Partnership and the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board. He said each group helped the County move toward the vision that has been projected for area.

Sen. Van Hollen emphasized the Federal commitment to the program.

“I’m proud that Maryland is a leading hub for biotech innovation — and this Institute will further solidify our reputation as a world leader in making new discoveries of cures and treatments,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “This partnership between Montgomery County and some of Maryland’s top universities and medical centers will also sharpen America’s global competitiveness and stimulate future medical breakthroughs that will save lives. And it will bring exciting new job opportunities to our state. I will keep working to secure direct federal investment in the Institute to provide the cutting-edge equipment to ensure it can meet its mission.”

“We are grateful to our academic partners for their enthusiastic commitment to joining together for this unique and promising initiative,” said County Council President Gabe Albornoz. “The advances in healthcare that we can achieve are limitless and by bringing together the best minds along with state-of-the-art technology, we are truly stepping into the intersection of hope, opportunity and innovation.”

“Today was an exciting day as we witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding to create an Institute for Health Computing in North Bethesda,” said Council Vice President Evan Glass. “This new research center will bring organizations from all over to Montgomery County to explore solutions to complex problems utilizing the latest technological advances in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Virtual and Augmented Reality. Supporting our growing bio-tech industry, the center is poised to make Montgomery County a hub for providing state of the art health solutions across the metropolitan region.

A major challenge of life sciences research today has shifted, from collecting data, to using technology to discover meaningful patterns hidden in huge data sets. The nation’s rapid discovery of a vaccine for COVID-19 during the pandemic was reliant on AI to accelerate advances in the underlying lab research. At last week’s event, university, State, Federal and local leaders talked about the opportunities that will exist at the Institute to create new discoveries and impact human health worldwide.

“Scaling up research to address grand challenges in the life sciences has shifted from collecting data to using cutting-edge technology to discover meaningful patterns hidden in the data,” said Darryll J. Pines, president of the University of Maryland, College Park. “This Institute will tap world-class researchers who are exploring artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual and augmented reality to collaborate with medical experts, leading to broad impacts on human health and well-being.”

“We are witnessing an unprecedented revolution in health care that is being driven by biomedical innovation, the digitization of medical records, and advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, said Bruce E. Jarrell, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore. “This new Institute will include all of these elements in a synergistic effect that will transform our health care system.”

“The integration of ‘big data’ with artificial intelligence and immersive technologies in health care is fundamentally changing the way we will treat patients – enabling us to vastly improve and personalize care for everyone,” said Mark T. Gladwin, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers distinguished professor and dean at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The goals of this new institute perfectly align with the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s new strategic vision to utilize disruptive technology and embrace and harness the power of clinical analytics and precision medicine to enhance patient care and provide population health services.”

"Part of our foundational mission as healthcare leaders is to engage in pioneering research in order to develop the cures of tomorrow while also caring for patients each and every day across our System,” said President and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System Mohan Suntha. “De-identified data from 1.8 million patients within our system, along with clinical research data from UMB, will provide the backbone for advanced clinical analytics that may ultimately lead to faster diagnoses, improvements in how therapeutics are utilized and a range of other improved outcomes for our patients, as well as patients all over the world.”

“This exciting announcement is what Metro is all about—creating vibrant hubs that attract innovative industries, jobs and housing near the convenience of transit,” said Metro General Manager Randy Clarke. “I look forward to our continued collaboration with County Executive Elrich and leaders in the County to fully realize the potential of North Bethesda.”

Projected Timeline for Establishment of Institute:
  • Dec. 1-Feb. 1– Recruitment of leadership, signing of lease and beginning of purchases for computational equipment
  • Feb./March 2023 – Opening of Institute in leased space with Institute senior staff and leadership (subject to transition timing for senior leaders).
  • March through Oct. 1, 2023 – Buildout and installation completion for initial computational assets beginning in Fiscal Year 2023 and continuing into the beginning of FY24.
  • FY 28-29 – Expectation is to move to permanent building or larger space in a shared building on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) property at the North Bethesda Metro Station.
MOU Commitments:

By Montgomery County:
  • $40M to the Universities to support the Institute at North Bethesda over six years:
    • $15M in FY 23 (supplemental budget appropriation required).
    • $5M per year for five years beginning in FY 24.
By Universities:
  • Establishment of a joint Institute for Intelligent and Immersive Computing for Life Sciences and Medicine at North Bethesda and commit to spending a roughly equivalent amount of funds as the County, although not on the same schedule, over the next six years:
    • $23M spent between 2018 and 2022 in faculty and staff expense in anticipation of establishing a Center on AI and VR/AR (many of whom will remain in UMCP).
    • $2M per year for at least five years for a total expenditure of $10M beginning in 2021 and extending through at least the first three years for an “informatics core” for the translation and application of raw, anonymized data to clinical research.
    • At least $10M in funding in the first three years for an expedited ramp-up of related health system clinical data analytics necessary to support the ongoing operation and innovation
    • At least $5M per year in operating expenditures by the Universities to meet the ongoing space, staffing, electrical and infrastructure costs of the Center, matching the County expenditures for the first five full years of operations.
    • After year six, it is anticipated that the Center will sustain itself without the support of the County, through research consulting with private life sciences and other private corporate entities, Federal grants and continued support from the Universities where necessary.
By County and Universities Jointly:
  • The County and the Universities commit to jointly seek significant additional funding from the State to support the programs at the Institute at North Bethesda.
  • The County and the Universities commit to applying their current diversity and inclusion commitments to this project, and further commit to make a conscious focus on including research that addresses disease that has disproportionate impact on minority populations.
By the State of Maryland:
  • For FY 23 and 24, $16M for North Bethesda Redevelopment infrastructure improvements and $4.5M for the North Bethesda Metro Station, North Entrance.
By the Congressional Delegation:
  • Contingent on the passage of a FY 23 omnibus, $3M to fund startup costs for AI computational infrastructure in leased space.