Seven years ago, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane joined leaders from HonorHealth (formerly Scottsdale Healthcare), Mayo of Arizona (then Mayo Clinic of Scottsdale), the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and TD2 (Translational Drug Development) for an in-depth conversation focused on the future of Scottsdale’s healthcare and bioscience and life science industries.   

At the time, according to Lane, the focus of collaboration centered on the advancements in genetic testing and treatment and translational drug therapies to mend flaws or failures in human genetic codes. The outcome of this discussion was working collaboratively in an effort toward “curing” the unhealthy condition versus treating the resulting tissue or organ damage.

“We thought that the ‘Cure Corridor’ would be an apt name for such a concept,” Lane remembers.   

Now, nearly a decade later, the Cure Corridor – which runs loosely east to west along Scottsdale’s Shea Boulevard and north to south along Scottsdale Road from the Scottsdale Airpark to SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center ‑ has experienced abundant growth and has become a game-changer in the evolving healthcare industry.

And, all indications point to more to come.

Volcanic expansion

The expansion of healthcare science and bioscience in Scottsdale is analogous to the DIY volcanos reminiscent of many childhoods. You make a strong base, fill it with baking soda, pour the vinegar — and boom! Prior to the Cure Corridor, Scottsdale already had a firm healthcare infrastructure and talent. All it needed was more (and varied) opportunities and innovators.

”Though Scottsdale started with a good base of healthcare, bioscience and bio-technical industries, there was a mutual interest in growing this valuable element of opportunities for our business and residential communities,” Lane says. “The effort was    and is    to bring the bioscience industry and their businesses together on compatible issues in open and collaborative forums.”

Lane’s efforts, combined with the hard work and effort from healthcare and bioscience industry leaders, has helped yield 33,000 jobs with an average salary upwards of $68,000 in Scottsdale’s healthcare sector. There are currently more than 16,000 employees in Scottsdale working on innovations in healthcare and biosciences.

HonorHealth, Mayo Clinic and CVS Health stand as three of the five largest healthcare employers in Scottsdale. Collectively, these nationally-recognized brands, alongside the Corridor’s additional residents, fuel a steady and robust local economy. And taking a page from “the best is yet to come,” a recent study cited that of all regional healthcare venture capital deals, one-third were with Scottsdale-based companies.

While Lane stresses that Scottsdale already had a strong healthcare and bioscience presence, the alignment of leadership to expand the healthcare and life sciences industry sector played a key role in the meteoric growth and impact of the Cure Corridor.

“The City of Scottsdale has long been recognized as a top vacation destination,” says Cristal Rodriguez, marketing manager of economic development for the City of Scottsdale. “But, the innovative accomplishments in the Cure Corridor have put Scottsdale on the map when it comes to the healthcare and bioscience industries. We are gracefully pivoting from the ‘Old West’s Most Western Town,’ to what is now being referred to as the epicenter of innovation.”

Epicenter of innovation

It’s this ‘epicenter of innovation’ for which Rodriguez says, “prospective healthcare companies want to be a part of. They want to be a part of a great network supported by the Cure Corridor.” That Cure Corridor network of healthcare game-changers includes more than 50 of the most innovative companies in Arizona.

Indeed. Companies like Mayo Clinic and HonorHealth, both with pre-existing longevity in Arizona, established advantageous and providential footing as residents of the Corridor.   

“Mayo Clinic’s commitment to Arizona began nearly 100 years ago when our founders, Dr. Will Mayo and Dr. Charlie Mayo, were frequent visitors to the state,” says Jennifer Ruble, division chair of public affairs, Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “They connected with the healing power of the environment and were inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Arizona. The surrounding health sciences community is unusually collaborative when compared with other parts of the country.”

Mayo’s local relationships with organizations like Arizona State University, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, HonorHealth and the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, among many others, are what have allowed Mayo to expand its healthcare and research potential, according to Ruble.

Similarly, HonorHealth’s roots extend as far back as 1927, when it was named “Desert Mission.”

“HonorHealth has a strong presence in Scottsdale, as home to three of our medical centers — our HonorHealth Research Institute, the future home of the HonorHealth Neuroscience Institute and the many HonorHealth Medical Group Primary Care and Specialty Care locations,” says John Neil, MD, executive vice president and chief physician executive and network strategy officer for HonorHealth.

The HonorHealth Neuroscience Institute, located on the Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center campus, will be a state-of-the-art center offering comprehensive multidisciplinary neurological and spinal care. It is slated to open in the spring of 2021. This innovation hub will comprise a five-floor building with nearly 120,000 square feet of space.

“The Institute will house a variety of specialties dedicated to providing coordinated neurosurgical and support services, including neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, speech, occupational and physical therapy, infusion therapy, phlebotomy, imaging and research,” Neil adds.

Shockwaves of progress

HonorHealth’s Neuroscience Institute is one of many examples that showcase the deluge of diversity and progress taking place along the Cure Corridor.

• Corridor resident Systems Imagination conducted the first genome-wide screen designed to identify new potential cancer gene targets utilizing artificial intelligence and state-of-the-art GPU (graphics processing unit) computation.

• Vitalant, one of the largest nonprofit transfusion medicine organizations, recently demonstrated advancements in health sciences by inviting patients recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma to help patients diagnosed with coronavirus (to help in their fight).

• In 2018, Mayo Clinic announced a $648 million expansion that will add 1.4 million square feet of building space (to the existing 1.7 million) and create close to 2,000 new jobs, including nearly 200 physicians.

• AdviNOW Medical developed its virtual provider assistant, Hannah, which completely automates the clinical visit within regulatory guidelines using artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR).  The AI interacts with patients to collect symptoms, take vitals, and prepare all information in an easy-to-review format for the provider.

• Other occupants of the Corridor are part of global solutions as far-reaching as Africa and Eastern Europe. GlobalMed’s remote care and telemedicine services provided relief during Tropical Cyclone Idai in March of 2019. Its pilot program got its start in Zimbabwe.

• Rowpar Pharmaceuticals launched its CloSYS oral care brand in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Aside from the attraction of like-minded goals to move the needle forward in the healthcare and bio-life sciences sector, Scottsdale’s Cure Corridor has the talent to support a continued influx of employment opportunities. Currently, 16,000 employees in Scottsdale are working on innovations in healthcare and biosciences.

Keep on growing

“On any given day you can go on to our Scottsdale job board, Scottsdale. Jobs and you’ll find numerous healthcare opportunities available from entry to the executive level,” Rodriguez says. “Scottsdale is where the healthcare industry is coming to grow and with that, the talent is following. As Scottsdale Economic Development Director Rob Millar always says, ‘it all comes down to talent, talent, talent,’ and that’s exactly what we’re seeing with these opportunities.”

Job seekers in this industry are not only looking for great companies to grow their careers, according to Rodriquez,  but they also seek companies that are making a difference in their chosen field.

“Healthcare jobs in Scottsdale are growing at a rate twice the national average and three of the city’s top five employers are HonorHealth, CVS Health, and the Mayo Clinic.  This industry is a positive economic story for us, and it will be for a long time to come,” Lane says.

Companies in the Cure Corridor

Here is a directory of the groundbreakers and innovators that are part of Scottsdale’s Cure Corridor.

1. 21st Century Oncology

2. Abbott

3. Accolade

4. Advanced Genomic Solutions (AGS)

5. AdviNOW Medical

6. Airware Laboratories

7. Arizona Oncology

8. Arizona State University- Dept. of BMI

9. Aural Analytics

10 Banner Behavioral Health Hospital

11. bioSyntagma

12. Brain State Technologies

13. Cayenne Medical – A Zimmer Biomet Company

14. Cigna Medical Group

15. CVS Health

16. EpiFinder

17. Fry Laboratories

18. Gemneo

19. GlobalMed

20. Heads Up Health

21. HonorHealth

22. HonorHealth Research Institute

23. IMNA Solutions

24. Innovative Health

25. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers

26. iTel Companies

27. Magellan Health

28. Matrix Medical Network

29. Mayo Clinic

30. Mayo Clinic School of Medicine

31. NeoLight

32. North Valley Surgery Center

33. Orion Health

34. Orthoscan

35. Plasmology4

36. Primus Pharmaceuticals

37. Prismic Pharmaceuticals

38. ProMedTek

39. Remarkable Health

40. RightBio Metrics

41. Rowpar Pharmaceuticals

42. SkySong Innovations

43. Sonoran Biosciences

44. Spear Education

45. STYR Labs

46. Systems Imagination

47. Systems Oncology

48. Translational Drug Development (TD2)

49. TouchPoint Solutions

50. Vitalant

51. West Pharmaceuticals

52. ZocDoc