California Biomedical Industry Leaders Join Call to Prevent Cuts to Science Funding

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Cuts would lead to job loss and $4.5 billion decrease in economic activity

CHI-California Healthcare Institute today submitted a letter signed by leaders from industry and academia addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressing the dire consequences science funding cuts would have for the biomedical sector in California and across the country.

California is the worldwide leader in biomedical investment, research and development, with more than 2,300 biomedical companies and public and private research institutions advancing scientific knowledge and developing new diagnostics tools, treatments, and technologies addressing diseases and conditions including cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, and cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases.

California’s life sciences industry is also an important engine of economic growth, employing nearly 268,000 workers statewide, paying more than $20 billion in annual wages and accounting for $18.6 billion in exports to markets around the world. Helping to fuel this success story is venture capital investment and federal research funding from institutions like the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, which totaled $7 billion for California in 2011. Together, industry, research universities and institutions, venture capital and the NIH comprise one of the most successful and important public-private partnerships in our country.

Unfortunately, sequestration puts much of that partnership at risk — a $2.5 billion cut to the NIH budget next year would result in over 2,000 fewer funded research grants. This would mean fewer research teams working on the cures and treatments of tomorrow, as well as cancelled or postponed purchases from U.S. companies that manufacture research tools like flow cytometers, mass spectrometers and gene sequencers used by scientists in their work. A recent study conducted by United for Medical Research estimates that NIH funding cuts under sequestration would lead to 33,000 fewer jobs nationwide — 5,000 in California alone — and an overall $4.5 billion decrease in economic activity.

“As alarming as its potential damage to the economy is, the long-term effect of sequestration would be worse because it would sharply reduce the critical research needed to meet patient and public health needs of tomorrow,” said David L. Gollaher, Ph.D., CHI’s president and CEO. “Federally-funded research provides the foundation for product development by the private sector, leading to new medicines, therapies and treatments — even entire new technologies and industries.”

Some examples that illustrate the cycle of innovation, which starts with federal funding, and results in cures, treatments and technologies for patients, includes the creation of the biotech industry itself and the mapping of the human genome. In 1973, research led by Herbert Boyer at the University of California San Francisco and Stanley Cohen at Stanford led to the development of recombinant DNA technology. That research, originally supported by NIH funding, spawned new companies and, ultimately, an entire industry called biotechnology, which today continues to grow worldwide. The research conducted to map the human genome, also fueled by NIH funding, is today revolutionizing science and medicine with technologies such as gene sequencing, consumer genomics and personalized medicine.

“The continued vibrancy of California’s biomedical industry depends upon continued advances and progress in science that are supported by federally funded research,” Gollaher said. ”We urge legislators in Washington to safeguard and sustain this essential public-private partnership that produces improved public health, economic growth and job creation.”

About CHI
CHI represents more than 275 leading biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics, and pharmaceutical companies, and public and private academic biomedical research organizations. CHI’s mission is to advance responsible public policies that foster medical innovation and promote scientific discovery. CHI’s website is Follow us on Twitter @calhealthcare, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.


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Nicole Beckstrand
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