With a major research university right in our backyard, a strong military presence and innovative companies throughout the metro region, there’s often a plethora of interesting science, medical and technology news to be found in Southern Arizona. Here’s a breakdown of the most interesting recent developments.
COVID-19 Testing to Go. The University of Arizona has announced a “Cats TakeAway Testing program” for students and employees to pick up a COVID-19 test kit on the go. The test is a polymerase chain reaction test, which involves swishing and gargling a saline solution and spitting into a tube. After, the tests can be dropped off at one of multiple locations on campus, with results generally available the next day. No appointment is required. Pickup and drop-off locations planned for the Cats TakeAway Tests include the Health Sciences Library, the Administration Building, Facilities Management, the Global Center, McClelland Hall, the Student Recreation Center, the Student Union Memorial Center and the Student Success District.
“What we’re looking for, of course, are those asymptomatic people who have no idea that they’re infected and are infecting others,” said UA president Robert Robbins in a press release. “Continued testing is vital, and our program has been designed with an emphasis on access so that testing is as easy and available as possible. We continue to adapt this program to best serve the campus community.”
The UA does not require testing. However, Robbins has encouraged all members of the campus to get tested weekly, regardless of vaccination status.
Pathology Partnerships. Roche, a global pharmaceutical and medical technology company, has opened some of their software for outside developers to use. The new Roche Digital Pathology Open Environment allows software developers to integrate their own image analysis tools for tumor tissue with Roche’s software and workflows, to hopefully improve patient outcomes and expand personalized healthcare. Roche’s Oro Valley location Roche Tissue Diagnostics, formerly Ventana Medical Systems, is involved in this collaboration which also uses artificial intelligence for better accuracy in pathology imaging.
“Roche is at the center of digital transformation for pathology, and is investing heavily in this innovation to improve patient outcomes,” said Thomas Schinecker, CEO Roche Diagnostics. “Providing pathologists with access to innovative digital tools from Roche and our collaborators through an open environment is critical for laboratory customers and the patients they serve.”
Future Mining. The star in the center of Arizona’s flag represents copper and our state’s mining history, producing more copper than any other US state. To further this focus, the Arizona State Legislature recently approved $4 million in funding to the University of Arizona’s new School of Mining and Mineral Resources for 2022. The new school is part of a collaboration between the UA Colleges of Engineering and Science, and is planned to strengthen the university’s student “pipeline” to the local mining sector. The funding will be used to hire staff, recruit students and improve facilities.
“This investment was one of the most important issues to me this session,” said David Gowan, Senate Appropriations chair and sponsor of the school’s appropriation bill. “Mining is one of Arizona’s main industries that contributes to our state’s and country’s rapid population growth and economic prosperity. Mined resources are required to create roads, hospitals, vehicles, houses and computers; to generate power; and to offer the many other goods and services that consumers need in today’s technological world.”
The funding is part of the Arizona Board of Regents’ New Economy Initiative, which targets “high-value workforce development” at the state’s three public universities. The UA has reported they’ve also received $6.5 million in donations for the school, thanks in part to large support from the mining industry.
“This funding is critical to fulfilling our vision of establishing southern Arizona as the Silicon Valley of mining,” said David Hahn, dean of the College of Engineering.