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Former Congressman Dick Gephardt Brings National Spotlight to Rhode Island with 'Best and Brightest Forum on Medical Innovation'

Rep. Patrick Kennedy Joins with State Biotech Leaders to Develop Blueprint to Preserve U.S. Leadership in Research and Development while Boosting Rhode Island's Growing Biotech and Medical Innovation Industry

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Dec. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Several of Rhode Island's most prominent leaders in research, medicine and biotechnology gathered today at Brown University's Medical Research Facility to discuss the importance of medical innovation in Rhode Island and throughout the United States.


Richard Gephardt, former Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, President and CEO of Gephardt Government Affairs and chairman of the Council for American Medical Innovation, moderated the Best and Brightest Forum on Medical Innovation. The forum highlighted the contributions of innovators in the state, and addressed the challenges facing the life sciences sector here. Participants in the forum called for new policies to support medical innovation, science and discovery - suggesting that discoveries in the life sciences and medicine are critical to economic recovery in Rhode Island and across the country.

"Medical innovation has an enormous impact on the health and economy of the United States and it is an integral part of Rhode Island's economy," Gephardt said. "When we find ways to support medical innovation, we create jobs, drive investment and improve our health. While America still leads the world in science and technology, other countries are gaining on us at amazing speeds. We need to act now by laying a strong foundation with intelligent policies that will preserve our leadership in medical innovation and allow science and medical discovery to flourish today, tomorrow and into the future."

Medical innovation is an important source of employment and investment in Rhode Island, where the biopharmaceutical sector supported a total of 10,063 jobs and $2.3 billion in output in 2006, according to a recent study conducted by Archstone Consulting and Dr. Lawton R. Burns, Director, The Wharton Center for Health Management and Economics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

This study also found that biopharmaceutical companies invested $24.4 million in research and development in Rhode Island in 2006, and in 2008, Rhode Island's scientists, researchers and engineers conducted 769 active clinical trials in the state.

Participants at the forum said that new policies are needed in order to ensure continued economic growth and health benefits from medical innovation in the region.

"New England is a global leader in biotechnology and the life sciences, and the state of Rhode Island has the potential for enormous growth in the very near future," said Paul R. Pescatello, chairman of the New England Biotech Association and President and CEO of Connecticut United for Research Excellence. "Policies that support innovation and encourage economic development are critical to this growth. We need legislators and officials at the local, state and federal levels to adopt policies that assure access to breakthrough medicines for patients, provide tax incentives for research and development and the jobs that come with it, increase collaboration between industry and academia, and ensure continued investment by protecting patents and intellectual property."

Gephardt also emphasized the importance of educating our next generation of scientists and researchers, saying education is another critical element for the nation's overall economic recovery. "As a country we need to encourage more students to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, attract the best and brightest researchers to our universities, and support basic scientific research and development." Rhode Island is making progress on this front. The state received a $12.5 million STEM education grant over a year ago to help improve STEM education across the state.

Panelists participating in today's forum included top minds in academia, industry, research, labor, local government and patient advocacy:

  • Leonard Bell, M.D., CEO, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • David N. Cicilline, Mayor, Providence, RI
  • Stephen Evangelista, President and CEO, Arthritis Foundation of Northern and Southern New England, and Chairman of the Rhode Island Health Advocacy Forum
  • Patrice Dudley-Aviles, Director, Human Resources, Amgen
  • George Nee, President, RI AFL-CIO
  • Peter Snyder, Ph.D., Vice President of Research, Lifespan
  • Edward J. Wing, M.D., Dean, Brown University Medical School

The Council for American Medical Innovation is a national coalition of leaders in research, medicine, public health, academia, education, labor, and business, who have joined together to urge policymakers to adopt a national policy agenda aimed at preserving U.S. leadership in medical innovation. The Council for American Innovation co-hosted the event with the New England Biotech Association.

The Council for American Medical Innovation has hosted Best and Brightest Forums on Medical Innovation in Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Lansing and Jersey City, and plans to continue these high-level discussions in various cities across the country.

About the Council for American Medical Innovation

The United States faces serious challenges to maintaining its leadership position in innovation. The Council for American Medical Innovation is bringing together leaders in research, medicine, public health, academia, education, labor, and business, who are working in partnership toward a national policy agenda aimed at preserving U.S. leadership in medical innovation. American medical innovators create millions of high-paying jobs, and their discoveries are integral in the fight to cure cancer and other illnesses. The Council for American Medical Innovation views leadership in medical innovation as a key part of America's economic recovery, future prosperity and health. For more information on the Council for American Medical Innovation, visit

About the New England Biotech Association

The New England Biotech Association (NEBA) is a 501(C)(6) non-profit, member driven organization comprised of state biotech associations, biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and other organizations with a collective mission to support and grow the biotechnology industry in New England. As the regional policy and public affairs voice for the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industry in New England, NEBA is committed to ensuring the region remains a global leader in biotechnology and the life sciences.

SOURCE Council for American Medical Innovation

SOURCE Council for American Medical Innovation
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