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Lee Hood
Institute for Systems Biology co-founder Leroy Hood will become Providence Health & Services chief science officer under the new affiliation between the non-profit groups.

The non-profit Institute for Systems Biology, a Seattle-based biomedical research organization that has spun off eight companies in the past 15 years, is joining Providence Health & Services in a new affiliation — planning to bring ISB’s focus on preventative health care and “scientific wellness” to the five-state non-profit health system, one of the largest in the country.

Leroy Hood, the genomics pioneer and ISB co-founder, will become Providence’s senior vice president and chief science officer under the new affiliation with the Renton, Wash.-based Catholic health care ministry.

Providence CEO Rod Hochman
Providence CEO Rod Hochman

Rod Hochman, Providence CEO and president, said in a statement that the affiliation will allow the two groups to “connect research and clinical expertise to shift health care delivery from a disease focus to a wellness focus.”

The two groups say they will establish joint research projects in several areas, including understanding how people transition from wellness to disease; conducting long-term Alzheimer’s studies; helping patients recover from debilitating breast cancer therapies; and using novel approaches to treat glioblastoma, a normally fatal type of brain tumor.

ISB will remain a separate legal entity, with its own brand and identity. However, as a Providence affiliate, ISB says it will become part of a common obligated group with the health system, with consolidated financials and access to capital and consolidated debt to support its research.

ISB says no job cuts are planned as part of the affiliation. ISB employees will remain ISB employees, and there will be no impact on salaries or benefits, an ISB spokesperson says.

“The affiliation will enable ISB to expand its research capacity during the next few years and recruit outstanding new faculty in the areas of systems biology, technology development, data and analytics and translational medicine,” explains ISB in a news release. “In addition, ISB will collaborate with the large pool of Providence affiliated clinicians and scientists in exciting new translational research initiatives that will build on the leading-edge programs in basic, translational and clinical research already underway at both institutions.”

Providence reached a similar affiliation with Swedish Health Services in 2012, and then-Swedish CEO Hochman was later named Providence CEO. Providence has additional affiliations with Pacific Medical Centers and Kadlec Regional Medical Center. Like those affiliations, the relationship with ISB works through a secular group called Western HealthConnect, which allows Providence to remain Catholic while affiliating with non-religious organizations.

“Rod and his team are leading the way in driving the paradigm shift that is taking place in health care today,” ISB’s Hood said in a statement. “This, combined with Providence’s vast network of hospitals, outstanding clinicians, and the rich collection of data from the more than 3.3 million patients they serve will help accelerate discovery of powerful insights into scientific wellness and disease. Further, it will enable us for the first time ever to apply ISB-driven systems approaches for optimizing wellness and minimizing disease to patient care.”

ISB and Providence said today that they remain “committed to transferring knowledge to society through commercialization of tools and technologies that will advance personalized medicine.” Providence founded its Providence Ventures fund in 2014 to make investments in health care companies.

An ISB spokesperson says there will be no impact on any ISB spin-offs, including Arivale, the scientific wellness and personalized genetics startup co-founded by Hood, who will remain chairman of Arivale’s scientific advisory board.

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