Biotech industry bringing hundreds of jobs to Phoenix

Posted at 4:30 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 22:20:39-04

PHOENIX — During a global pandemic, one company in Phoenix has landed a multi-million-dollar investment and expanded its facility space.

The biotech industry is thriving, and Mayor Kate Gallego believes Caris Life Sciences is one of the companies that will be a big part of Phoenix's recovery.

Caris Life Sciences focuses on tackling a disease that has no cure, is cruel, and can attack anyone at any time: cancer. Most people in our state know someone who has been impacted by cancer or have been impacted by cancer themselves.

"The tradition has been to kind of do a one-size-fits-all approach to treating that," said Dr. David Spetzler.

Dr. Spetzler is the President and Chief Scientific Officer for Caris Life Sciences. He said that approach is not how they operate.

Right now, the company is working out of three different office and lab spaces across the Valley.

Their latest expansion is in Phoenix with a 65,000 square foot space.

"As many as 70% of patients will not actually receive clinical benefit from the treatment that they're given when they have these aggressive cancers," Dr. Spetzler said. "And so what we do is we take a piece of that cancer and we interrogate it at the molecular level. So, we're looking at all of the genes that are in that cancer. We're looking at gene products from that cancer."

Employees work to measure thousands of genes and gene products to really understand the nature of the cancer. They look to pinpoint where it all went wrong and use that information to give personalized treatment plans to the patient.

"Once we get it right, you know, we should be able to really turn cancer into a chronic disease, if not cure it outright," Dr. Spetzler said. "And that's really the goal."

The Rebound Arizona speaking with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. We asked why Arizona has become a sought-after place for big companies, like Caris Life Sciences, to come to.

"There is a real feeling in Phoenix that a rising tide lifts all and that when we have a strong innovation community, we can collaborate and work together," Mayor Gallego said. "So, I think it's a combination of great people, great spaces, and a great educational system."

Arizona's great weather and the lab's proximity to the airport to quickly grab patient samples are huge factors in their decision to settle in Phoenix.

Plus, as Gallego mentioned, our state already has top-notch university programs. The hope is that having a large company in Arizona may help keep top talent here.

Mayor Gallego said the healthcare industry could help our economy before, during, and after this pandemic.

"The type of innovation and great product that they are producing will attract a lot of eyes and interest to Phoenix," Mayor Gallego explained. "So we think this could be a catalytical investment that really helps our bio-science and healthcare community grow."

The new Phoenix expansion at Caris Life Sciences means at least 300 new jobs are available in the community for those with a medical background and other opportunities in administration.

They also have acquired a $310 million investment.

"We're very pleased to be able to achieve that level of investment during a pandemic," Dr. Spetzler said. "I think it speaks to the quality of the work that we're doing, to the promise of precision medicine to really be revolutionary."

Caris Life Sciences has two spaces in Phoenix and another in Tempe.

If you are interested in learning more about what Caris Life Sciences does, click here.

If you are interested in a career with Caris Life Sciences, click here.

If you're interested in the partnership they have with local educational systems, like Phoenix and GateWay Community College, click here.