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Funding Basic Research

California depends on NIH funding for the success and viability of the life sciences industry. It is no coincidence that the areas that are considered “biotech hotbeds” are the same cities that have world-class science research institutes, receiving the largest portion of NIH awards. For California, which receives the most NIH funding of any state, the government investment is translated directly into biomedical jobs and revenue for the state and medical products and health care innovations for Californians and the world.

Avalon Ventures“NIH is extremely important. The more NIH funding we can have, we can prime the pump to create high-value, high-paying jobs in this economy. It is an enduring necessity to advanced healthcare and drugs. The government needs to provide funding in a sensible way, such as NIH funding. Our country has created great industries (aerospace, biomedical, etc.) by providing basic research dollars.”

Kevin Kinsella, Managing Director, Avalon Ventures

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CaliforniaThe top ten California research universities and organizations received more than $2.5 billion in NIH funding through mid-October 2012. Total NIH grants awarded to California organizations were $3.3 billion.

CaliforniaThrough mid-October, California had received the most SBIR and STTR NIH Funding, more than $127 million, which is 60 percent more than the No. 2 state, Massachusetts, and 215 percent more than the No. 3 state, New York.

The NIH funds essential science from basic research to translational collaborations. The breakthrough science and technologies are often built on foundational science that was also funded by the NIH, but may not have been funded for the specific purpose in use today.

For example, Organovo’s 3-D bioprinting technology is based on an understanding of embryonic development and how cells can migrate, interact and develop to form tissues if placed in the right environment. 3-D bioprinting is being used today to improve drug testing and human disease research, and may, in the future, provide tissues for surgical applications.

Organovo“NIH funding provides critically needed seed funds to develop technologies that are used to start companies. Organovo was founded by out licensing two patents that resulted from U.S. federal grants to academia, and without the critical grant funding, our technology may not have come to exist.”

Keith Murphy, CEO, Organovo

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NIH funding provides the essential backbone to the lead the U.S. has in the biomedical industry as well as in basic science research. More than 130 Nobel Prize winners have received NIH funding.

Today, biologic drugs now are the top sellers and are the basis of important drugs for patients. Biologics, like Herceptin for breast cancer and Humira for rheumatoid arthritis, are based on antibody technology discovered in California research labs and could not have been successful without other scientific advancements like recombinant gene technology.

Recombinant gene technology allows human proteins to be made in other biological systems like bacteria and yeast, which can be grown in large quantities for manufacturing. This technology is also why today we have human insulin for diabetes patients instead of pig insulin, which has high treatment risk due to cross-species immune reactions and is difficult to obtain in large quantities.

Gilead“NIH support for scientific and clinical research produces tremendous benefits not only for human health but also the United States and global economy. Many significant medical breakthroughs in the past half-century have been the result of collaboration between government and industry.

John Martin, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO, Gilead Sciences

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Another great example is the invention of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which used to create many copies of small segments of DNA. Because significant amounts of a sample of DNA are necessary for molecular and genetic analyses, things like the Human Genome Project would have been nearly impossible without PCR.

PCR became a fast, inexpensive and industrialized process due to unrelated studies and the discovery of heat-loving bacteria in hot springs in the 1960s. The thermophilic bacteria became the source for one of the most important enzymes in molecular biology, the DNA polymerase, the essential component of PCR.

By following direct paths as well as fortuitous wandering roads, the NIH has supported the world’s leading scientific discoveries and innovation. Evidenced by California’s biotech hotbeds grown around major NIH-funded research institutes, NIH funding provides an important foundation for not only economic innovation and development but also successful translation of science breakthroughs into products that help California, the nation and the world.

Terry Hermiston“NIH funds innovation. That is a government investment. That must continue if we want to improve the lives of patients and the health of the nation.”

Terry Hermiston, Ph.D. Vice President of U.S. Biologics Research and Site Head for the U.S. Innovation Center

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Science is fraught with known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Only by pursuing the best educated hypothesis and doing the experiments can we begin to uncover the necessary knowledge to continue to discover and develop much needed new medicines for patients. NIH funding does what is most necessary: provide the financial and collaborative support for the best minds to ask important scientific questions and pursue the answers that follow.

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