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Richard Gephardt Joins Leading Innovators in Washington State to Call for Greater Focus on Policies to Boost Economy and Maintain U.S. Competitiveness in Medical Science and Innovation
Date:9/21/2009

SEATTLE, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Several of the Pacific Northwest's leaders in biotechnology, health and medicine gathered at the University of Washington Medicine's South Lake Union Campus today to discuss the importance of medical innovation in the region, and to the United States.

The Council for American Medical Innovation, a national coalition of leaders in research, medicine, public health, patient advocacy, academia, business and labor is calling on Congress to adopt a national policy agenda aimed at preserving U.S. leadership in medical innovation. The Council hosted the event. Richard Gephardt, former Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and chair of the Council for American Medical Innovation, moderated the forum, highlighting the contributions innovators in the state of Washington have made to public health and economic security. Panelists suggested that new discoveries in the life sciences and medicine are critical to region's economic recovery.

"Medical innovation has an enormous impact on the health and economy of the United States, and is a growing part of the economy in the state of Washington," 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."

Biotechnology, including biopharmaceutical companies, directly employs nearly 20,000 people in Washington, representing a payroll of more than $1.6 billion. The Pacific Northwest has unique advantages in medicine, the life sciences and other innovative fields that can be harnessed to help the region achieve economic recovery. Additionally, Seattle is home to numerous innovative companies and institutions, such as Microsoft, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Amazon.com, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the University of Washington.

Panelists participating in today's forum included:

  • Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington
  • Nancy Dapper, Executive Director, Alzheimer's Association, Western and Central Washington Chapter
  • Carole Heath, Ph.D., Director, Process and Product Development, Amgen
  • Elaine Jones, Chief Operating Officer, Allen Institute for Brain Science
  • Bob Nelsen, Managing Director and Co-founder, ARCH Venture Partners
  • Chris Rivera, President, Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association

The panel members discussed specific policy changes that are needed to create a healthy environment for innovation and discovery - including policies that can attract companies and well-paying jobs to the region, promote risk-taking in research and development, encourage more students to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, attract the best and brightest researchers, and support basic scientific research and development.

"At an economic time like this, we have to do everything we can to foster and support innovation," said Chris Rivera, President of the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association, representing hundreds of Washington biotechnology and medical device companies. "The life sciences are a source of high-paying jobs for our state. Medical innovation is the right sector to focus on to bring Washington state out of this recession."

Gephardt emphasized how science education, and the research and discovery that comes out of it, needs to be the backbone of the nation's overall economic strategy. "To remain competitive, U.S. policies should increase incentives for investment in research, development and its application; increase investment in the life sciences; and ensure an increasingly highly skilled and trained workforce here in the U.S.," he said.

The Council for American Medical Innovation has hosted Best & Brightest Forums on Medical Innovation in Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C., 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 www.americanmedicalinnovation.org.

Follow us on Twitter @Med_Innovation.


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SOURCE The Council for American Medical Innovation
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