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Most New Jersey residents see global health as critical to state's economy

WASHINGTONFebruary 16, 2011Despite the unpredictable economy, nearly three-quarters (73%) of New Jersey residents think spending money on research to improve health globally is important to jobs and incomes in the state, according to a new statewide poll commissioned by Research!America. The poll data will be released today at a meeting in Washington, DC, of prominent global health research and development (R&D) experts and New Jersey business, academia and nonprofit leaders. This is part of a six-state effort by Research!America.

According to the poll, most of the New Jersey population (94%) thinks it is important for their state to be a leader in health R&D, and in fact, the state is currently third in the country for total investment in this area. New Jersey is home to 17 of the world's 20 largest pharmaceuticals, medical technology and diagnostic companies. These companies contributed nearly $30 billion to the state's economy and accounted for more than 55,000 New Jersey jobs in medicine, research, public health and education in 2009 alone. They also are providing solutions for some of the world's deadliest infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and dengue fever.

Former Congressman and Research!America Chair John Edward Porter said, "Global health research is one of New Jersey's best investments, in which the state's private sector plays a leading role. On the other hand, New Jersey is ranked 11th in population but is 18th in peer-reviewed federal research grants, which provide the basis on which private industry builds much of its applied research and its products. This is a growth opportunity for New Jersey. I urge the state's leaders to further strengthen their commitment to global health R&D in New Jersey."

Porter added, "Working to treat and prevent disease around the world not only fuels our economy and creates jobs here, but also allows some of the world's best minds to come together here to enrich our science and our society and to improve health everywhere."

One of the most successful approaches to moving global health R&D forward has been public-private partnershipswhich often consist of joint endeavors between technology or pharmaceutical companies, universities and nonprofits. They can yield groundbreaking results.

Case in point: Research led By David Alland, MD, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)together with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the manufacturing company Cepheidspawned a new diagnostic test that tells whether a person has tuberculosis and whether it is a drug-resistant strain of the deadly disease in under two hours. Current tests, in use for over a century, can take up to three months. This new rapid TB test has been endorsed by the World Health Organization and is expected to revolutionize the way TB is treated around the world.

New Jersey residents (91% according to the poll) believe these types of partnerships are important for developing new treatments and cures, and 73% think it is important for New Jersey to offer incentives for companies to invest in research to improve health globally.

"These product development partnerships have paved new paths in global health research and created new jobs and new businesses, so it is gratifying to see that they have strong public support in New Jersey. This should send a clear message to local and national policy makers about the need to make further R&D investment a top priority," said Mary Woolley, Research!America president and CEO.

The poll also finds that:

  • 94% say infectious diseases like the flu, tuberculosis and SARS will pose some level of threat to the U.S. in the next few years, and 79% say Americans should worry about diseases like malaria, dengue fever and cholera that mostly affect poorer countries.

  • 91% of the state's residents are concerned about drug resistance and say it is important to conduct global health research to prevent the problem worldwide.

  • 88% are concerned about U.S. troops overseas being exposed to global health diseases, and 86% say American civilians benefit from health research conducted by the U.S. military.


Contact: Eva Maciejewski

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