At the University of Maryland BioPark on May 18, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin spoke to 150 mid-Atlantic region bioscience company officials, labor leaders, and university faculty about the importance of medical research as important sources of jobs and tax revenue.
The "Clinical Trials Forum: How States Create Jobs through Medical Innovation" forum also featured Edward Bradley, MD, vice president for oncology clinical development at Maryland's leading biologic therapeutics company, MedImmune, Inc. of Gaithersburg; and Jamie Mullen, MD, executive director for development at the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca U.S. of Wilmington, Del.; and David Wheadon, MD, senior vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
"We wanted leaders of business and labor to hear how the governors view the importance of clinical trials and medical innovations as major parts of their states' economies," said Josh White, campaign manager for the Maryland Chapter of the nonprofit group We Work for Health, which co-sponsored the forum with PhRMA.
The forum took place at the BioPark "because we wanted to demonstrate the importance of the biotech industry and the great medical centers here," said White.
Organizer Frank Howard, Jr. of the Howard Consulting Group, Inc. of Washington, D.C., added, "This was also an effort to bring out what is happening in Baltimore. We knew that Governor O'Malley just loves this place [the BioPark] and with the Preakness happening tomorrow, it was a good time and place." The BioPark is a biomedical research park, a community of about 30 life science companies and academic research centers that are commercializing new drugs, diagnostics and devices, and advancing biomedical research.
At the forum, PhRMA released a report "Research in Your Backyard: Developing Cures, Creating Jobs," which examined Maryland as a case study of how states can lead in workforce and economic development through the promotion of medical innovation. According to the report, biopharmaceutical research companies in Maryland are conducting or have conducted nearly 3,500 clinical trials of new medicines since 1999. Of those, 1,775 target the nation's six most debilitating chronic diseases-asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illnesses, and stroke.
"With our state's Bio2020 plan leading the way, Maryland's biotechnology industry is at the forefront of medical innovation and job creation," O'Malley said in a prepared statement. Speaking to attendees, he added, "Every day in Maryland we are leveraging our assets into jobs and programs in the biosciences." He also described the University's BioPark as an environment that resonates partnership.
"In Delaware, when I talk with a company such as AstraZeneca, the no.1 issue for them is 'do you have a great workforce?,'" said Markell. "This starts with education and, after the model of Maryland, to walk the students through grade school, high school, and college bioscience education."
"As a continually evolving and globally influential field, biotech commerce is central to West Virginia's economic development strategy," said Tomblin. "We must continue to strengthen our education system and its research components to foster new business and accompanying job creation."
Following the forum, O'Malley and Jane Shaab, UMB assistant vice president for economic development, hosted a tour for the governors of one original of nearly 30 tenants in the BioPark, SNBL Clinical Pharmacology Center, Inc.
The stated mission of We Work for Health, Maryland Chapter is "an effort to unite organizations, companies, individuals, and other stakeholders around a common goal: raising awareness among policymakers, key opinion leaders, and the media of the significant social and economic value of the biopharmaceutical sector in their state and region."
According to its website, PhRMA is an association that "represents the country's leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives."