Oro Valley-based Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. has partnered with Arizona State University and Dublin City University, in Dublin, Ireland, to create a new International School of Biomedical Diagnostics.

The joint venture, according to Ventana president and CEO, Mara Aspinall, is a major step toward recognizing biomedical diagnostics as a field in and of itself.

Additionally, the program will help create a skilled workforce in Arizona that can fill a growing industry need.

Medical biodiagnostics includes: diagnosing conditions like cancer or disease; determining prognosis, for example, how severe a disease might become; monitoring a patient’s progress; and finally, prediction – a quickly evolving area in the health sciences, which “looks at healthy people to determine how likely it is that they will develop a likely disease,” Aspinall said.

Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a double mastectomy, after learning she carried the gene mutation for breast cancer, brought the subject of predictive medicine into the national spotlight last spring.

Not only has biomedical diagnostics made it into the public sphere, it has also become big business around the world. In the U.S., the industry is valued at around $50 billion, and it employs 3.5 million people globally, Aspinall said.

“This is an industry we want. This is an industry we must nurture,” said Pima County Board of Supervisors chair Sharon Bronson.

Over the past decade, the state has attempted to position itself as a player in the bioscience industry. Locally, Tucson and Pima County officials, such as Bronson, say they want to compete with the likes of Boston, Mass. and San Diego and Los Angeles, Calif.