Governor Deval L. Patrick
Mass Opportunities Investment Conference
November 8, 2007
First of all, we have an unusual concentration here in the Commonwealth around the life sciences of universities, of great research institutions, of teaching hospitals, of venture capital, of NIH funding. The kind of concentration of resources and opportunities that make it possible for this industry to represent such an important part of the future of healing and of our economy here in the Commonwealth. But it doesn't have to be that way.
It's a wonderful thing that it is, but if you'll remember at the Bio 2007 Conference in May, people, thousands and thousands came from all over the world because they want we we've got. They tell me that over at Children's Hospital that every single one of the top researchers has been offered a job somewhere else than in Massachusetts. Dr. Mello may talk about this, but mostly I hope he doesn't, but I will out him by saying he is being attracted away to other places. He's not going, not without me wrapped around his ankle holding him here.
But the fact is everybody wants what we have because of its extraordinary potential to advance healing and also to create great jobs. And some of you may remember, rt. 128 used to be the acronym or used to be the phrase that described the software industry. That's all anybody … you said 128, if you put 128…if you could say it…You could put rt. 128 anywhere in the world and everywhere they knew you were talking about the IT industry. No one had heard of Silicon Valley, and then Silicon Valley invented itself, and stole away a lot of the intellectual capital and the capital capital. And we have been recapturing and rebuilding ever since. And the life sciences industry could be that way as well if we simply sit by and wait and see what the rest of the world will do. I am unwilling to let that happen and you should be unwilling to let that happen and that's what our life sciences initiative is about.
A ten year, 1 billion dollar commitment by State Government to partner with you. To help fill some gaps that frankly some of you in venture capital aren't interested in right now. To help increase some of the investment in infrastructure necessary to enable continued research and development and movement from the lab bench to the bedside. To help create research innovation centers in different parts of the Commonwealth so we can begin to spread this kind of economic activity and research activity around the Commonwealth, to create, what would be with the stem cell bank at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester the largest depository of stem cell lines in the world. It is a small step maybe, compared to the kind of investments that California or China are willing to make in this industry, but it's an important symbolic expression of our commitment to you in this industry and our excitement about your future.
Now that is a bill that's pending in the legislature right now and I guess I can't talk to Bob about it but I can talk to you about it and we need your help. Many of you in this room have been helpful in formulating the elements of this legislation and others have been helpful to help press it forward in the legislature. We need everybody.
There is general agreement around the principles of this proposal in both the house and the senate and we had a very positive hearing I think before the joint committee, some of you participated in that just last week. But it does take your phone calls to reps and senators, including to your leadership to the house and the senate and to the relevant committee chairs, it takes your letters, it takes your expressions of interests to move it forward. So I thank you for what you have done to bring this initiative as far as it has come and I challenge you and ask you to stay engaged and keep involved so we can bring this home and sign this piece of legislation and do what we can to encourage the further growth and development of your opportunities and the opportunities for all of us.
A great partner and champion in this mission has been Dr. Craig Mello. Dr. Mello, as you know, won the Nobel Prize for his ground breaking research in RNAI therapy and research. And I can describe it kinda-sorta this way. Although I'm about to give the podium to you (Dr. Mello) so you should describe it. But if I understand it correctly, this is a way for telling the bad cells that tell the body to do things we'd rather not have it do, to stop doing it, to interrupt it. Everything from the common cold to far more serious and devastating conditions maybe cured from this research. It's extraordinarily exciting that this research is happening.
As Chairman Bosely described that this is one of those things we would have thought of as science fiction just a little while ago and all of a sudden is science fact. It's also a great source of pride for me, as Governor, that that research is happening at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.