Investment package, industry and public- private higher education collaboration and state stem cell bank make Massachusetts global leader
BOSTON – Tuesday, May 8 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced his plan to make Massachusetts the global leader in life sciences, unveiling for the first time ever a comprehensive, collaborative Massachusetts Life Science Strategy.
The plan, outlined during a speech at the BIO 2007 convention, includes a 10 year, $1 billion investment package that will both enhance the state’s already nationally recognized assets in the fields of medicine and science and fill gaps in federal funding to ensure the state’s ability to support life science progress from the idea stage through the production stage. The Patrick Administration’s strategy brings together industry, academic research hospitals, and public and private colleges and universities to coordinate these efforts, spur new research, strengthen investments, create new jobs and produce new therapies for a better quality of life.
“There is no place in the world with as much talent in life sciences and biotech as here in Massachusetts,” said Governor Patrick. “Now is the time for us to invest in that talent and bring together the resources of our unparalleled research universities, teaching hospitals, and industry to work towards a common goal – to grow ideas into products to create cures and jobs.”
Key to the Governor’s Life Science Initiative is new legislation that will strengthen the Massachusetts Life Science Center and charge it with the execution of a life science mission focused on science and economic development, strategic investments at critical stages of the development cycle, and collaboration with the private sector to create innovation infrastructure critical to both researchers and companies. The Governor also announced his commitment to making targeted investments in companies that encourage life science economic development in the Commonwealth.
“I commend the Governor for reaching our to all sectors of our life science cluster in order to craft a stem cell/life science package that recognizes the unique institutional assets and intellectual firepower in our region,” said Steven Hyman, Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and Chairman of the Massachusetts. “The Governor allocates state resources in effective ways to enhance our traditional strengths, buttress areas that need attention, and encourage powerful collaborations between our leading edge institutions.”
Today’s announcement at the BIO 2007 Convention highlighted the following:
A $1 billion investment package that includes funds to:
* Bridge the NIH funding gap – A competitive grant program during the current downturn in federal support to sustain key programs in the state. Our collective success during the 1998 – 2003 period when the NIH budget doubled from $14 billion to $28 billion only solidified Massachusetts’ dominance in the area of biomedical research. However, the subsequent four years of flat funding since 2003 has caused a 13 percent loss of funding power by NIH and a 35 percent reduction in support for clinical trials. The Patrick administration will make surgical investments during the downturn to sustain key programs here in Massachusetts in order that our position is sustained to once again capture large percentages of new funding when it materializes.
* Create the Massachusetts Stem Cell Bank – A first A first in the nation centralized repository of new stem cell lines available to all sectors, public and private, of research enterprise. Boston University, Brigham & Women’s, Children’s Hospital, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Partners HealthCare and the University of Massachusetts have already agreed to participate in the Bank when it is completed.
* Establish Massachusetts Life Science Fellowship Grants – Grant packages for research institutions in Massachusetts to attract and retain the rising stars of life sciences research in the Commonwealth, and ensure Massachusetts is competitive with other states and nations.
* Establish Massachusetts Life Science Innovation Centers – Center-based research facilities that streamline technology transfer, development time and funding opportunity.
"As the president of the University of Massachusetts, the leading public academic research institution in the Commonwealth, I applaud Governor Patrick for making such a strong commitment to the life sciences, particularly stem cell research and RNAi-related research and development,” said University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson. “The announcement today is an important step in developing a world-class life sciences strategy for the Commonwealth that will foster scientific innovation, including unlocking the mysteries of debilitating diseases, and spur economic growth. The University of Massachusetts is proud to be able to play an important role in this strategy and I truly believe this proposal is far-reaching, comprehensive and of sufficient scope and scale to enable Massachusetts to continue and expand its national and global leadership in biotechnology and the life sciences.”
“It is clear to me that scientific innovation and cutting-edge research help set Massachusetts apart in the eyes of the life sciences and greater scientific community. Today’s announcement of this significant, new state funding is an important signal that the opportunities to do cutting-edge research in this state are expanding. I am proud that RNAi is already changing the scientific landscape, offering new tools in the effort to better human health; my colleagues at the UMass Medical School and I see great promise in our continued work with RNAi and RNAi Therapeutics. Support of this type from the government, academic institutions and society allows us to further advance science and to conduct important basic, clinical and translational research,” Nobel Laureate Craig Mello, Ph.D. of the University of Massachusetts Medical School said.
“The future of life sciences is here in Massachusetts.” Governor Patrick said. “We have the talent. We have the entrepreneurial spirit. Now let’s seize the future.”