Governor Deval L. Patrick
Life Sciences Listening Tour
October 31, 2007
I am so pleased to be with you here at Umass Worcester and at the medical school. And I just want to tell you how proud I am of you, what you do, how you represent the University of Massachusetts system and Massachusetts for that matter. I am delighted to be with you. And I want to also acknowledge Glinda from the wizard of Oz whose over here as well. I've been so distracted by you! This is important.
My mother suffered from lupus while she was alive. My mother-in-law suffers from diabetes and Alzheimer's. You can't love someone and be powerless to help them without appreciating how important stem-cell research and the advances in the life sciences, and the transition from the bench to the bedside, how important that is.
It turns out that hope for an awful lot of people like my mother and my mother-in-law and your mothers and mother-in-laws and friends and relatives resides right here in Massachusetts and to some extent right here in UMass Worcester. Because we have what turns out to be the greatest concentration of brain power, venture capital, research institutions, companies involved in bio-pharmaceutical, medical devices.
It's a so-called life sciences super-cluster, a term I hadn't heard until the Bio 2007 Conference in May. Any of you go to the conference by the way? I know some of you back here did. I didn't know there was such a thing as a Bio Conference. But as it turns out, tens of thousands of people came to the largest bio conference in the history of those conferences because it was here in Massachusetts, and they came from all over the world because they want what we have. They want this concentration of brain power and venture capital and this research conglomerate and this work that is being done by small and large companies to take those discoveries and move them into practical cures and ways to relieve suffering. And other jurisdictions and states, nations and states, are taking steps to try and create an environment to try and lure away what we have.
China is building a university the size of UCLA every year for the next ten years, fully endowed. You've read about what California is trying to do, using state money to try and stimulate their own magnet for the life sciences. So we can, if we choose, simply rest on our laurels and say well we're, as they say in the neighborhood "all that" and not worry about the competitive challenges conditions around the country and around the world and find ourselves overtaken by events, I am unwilling to do that and so should you be.
That is what the life-sciences initiative is about. It's about strengthening our position today and extending our lead. It's about advancing the future of healing by supporting in ways that the private market does not, the ways in which because of things like I think it's called the "valley of death" in venture capital. Efforts to take proven concepts into commercialization to make them available to patients, ways in which we can take what we have and broaden it and strengthen it, and by the way, there are 250 thousand good jobs to be had in the course of it. At all levels, good jobs with good benefits, so it makes economic sense.
A feature, one that might interest you, is that we will have the largest repository of stem cell lines in the world right here, right here where you work, and I am proud of that and I want you to be proud of that. We have a proposal now before the legislature, and I am delighted to say that the members of the legislature here showed up yesterday, and made their voices and support known, and I am grateful to them for that. We had folks from research, we had clinicians, we had patients, we had business people and venture capitalists, a whole host of people who came to say "listen legislature, take this seriously". Because we have an opportunity here to set ourselves apart and above our competitions and jurisdictions all over the world, and why wouldn't we?
We are here today because we are trying to continue a campaign to make this legislation real. And I ask each of you to care about that, pay attention to it, and help in your own way. Pick up the phone and call your rep an senator and tell them that you believe in this and support it. There will be other grassroots efforts that we will be working on over the course of the next several weeks and months as necessary, to try and encourage, to really show the legislature, that the support for this and the wisdom of it is as broad-based as we think it is.
And we ask you to be willing to take up that call and help to make this real. I am proud of you. Many indeed I would say all in the legislature are proud of you, what you do, and what you can do. This is about making the whole world proud of you. And I look forward to working with you on that.