Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care opens center in Phoenix

With a simulation center and spaces for health care research, the Health Futures Center will expand research for students from four ASU programs

A new building in northeast Phoenix is now home to the Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care, a program formed out of a partnership between the University and the hospital to find new solutions to health care problems.

The Health Futures Center, which opened in January 2021, aims to provide students the opportunity to work directly with Mayo Clinic and strengthen existing programs through collaboration. 

Four ASU programs — the College of Health Solutions, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute — are a part of the new center and will work closely with Mayo Clinic's location in Phoenix. 

"It's a wonderful, spectacular building, state of the art with views of the Valley and the mountains," said Judith Karshmer, the dean of Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. "It's got a space for gathering, it's going to be an amazing place for a conference, it's going to just be a beautiful opportunity when it's fully functioning."

The new ASU Health Futures Center, adjacent to the Mayo Clinic in north Phoenix, is complete and ready for faculty, researchers and students to move in, on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.

The simulation center, located on the third floor, will provide undergraduate and graduate students with state-of-the-art experiences with simulators and standardized patients. 

Chris Udall, a student in his third year of the accelerated nursing program, is working this summer with realistic mannequins in the center, which "gives us a great feel for what patient care can actually be like in a hospital setting," he said.

For Udall’s program, there are around 15 different simulation rooms that students have to finish, all having different scenarios and situations with elements such as beds, mannequins and even a fully stimulated apartment. 

"We can actually watch each other in the simulations," Udall said. "That's where a lot of the learning actually takes place, is when you watch somebody else to complete the simulation, and then you think, 'Oh, I saw what they did there.'

"It's the next best thing to actually getting your hands dirty in the health care, hospital setting," Udall said. 

The alliance between ASU and Mayo began in 2002, first allowing cohorts of around 20-30 students in the Edson College to complete their clinical experiences at Mayo. The Health Futures Center will "allow for really strengthening and deepening the ASU Mayo Alliance around research and around programming," Karshmer said. 

Before the center, students used to have their classes in a small area within Mayo — but with the new center, students have expanded classroom opportunities, as well as other expansions such as the simulation center. 

This will also expand opportunities at the College of Health Solutions, said the college's dean, Deborah Helitzer.

The proximity to Mayo will also help students on a social level. "We underestimate how important it is to be able to go and have lunch together, it's really important for building relationships," Helitzer said.

"Our students will be so much better prepared because they've had the opportunity to work with an outstanding research and treatment center," Helitzer said.

Faculty member Piyush Hota (right) and research technician Sandra Miranda head down the stairs in the breezeway of the Health Futures Center on Thursday morning March 4, 2021.

Jacqueline Carmona, a graduate student in the molecular and cellular biology program, had her breast cancer research moved to the center. The move, she said, was to connect her with collaborators at Mayo Clinic who are knowledgeable in immunology cancer research and specifically breast cancer research.

"Mayo has a very good reputation for clinical research of the big institutions, so that just means more collaboration, the ability to do more projects," Carmona said. "So, we were excited."

Starting in the fall, students in the College of Health Solutions will be able to go up to the center and work together with faculty and Mayo staff on projects and in the simulation center.

"It has a wealth of labs, it has a wealth of potential and meeting places," Karshmer said. "And it will do exactly what I think President (Michael) Crow had hoped, and that's bringing together an even stronger relationship between Mayo Clinic faculty, staff, physicians, clinicians, nurses and ASU faculty, researchers and clinicians."

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