Biomedical Research Means Jobs for Oklahomans

Article excerpt

In a previous column, I wrote about the need for a concerted effort among the state's decision-makers -- governmental, business, civic and academic -- to work together to lay the groundwork so that Oklahoma can receive its equitable share of federal biomedical research dollars. That figure, close to $100 million per year, would be an indicator of excellence in biomedical research in the state. Another effect, however, of a sustained, outstanding biomedical research program is economic, and it is that I would like to address in this column.

Successful biomedical research programs throughout the nation are able to attract about twice as many research dollars from outside the state than funds provided locally. At the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, that number is about 1.0, so we need to do better. The multiplier effect, however, of the funds brought into Oklahoma is rather impressive.

Various economists approach this differently, so I will use two methods of analysis. One teaches that for every dollar brought into the state, the economy is grown by $4. Thus, with OMRF's competitive grants bringing in about $12 million from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and other nonprofit "disease" related organizations, one could say that the Oklahoma economy is buoyed to almost $50 million - - a rather impressive amount from a single institution in our state. The University of Oklahoma, both the Health Sciences Center and Norman campuses, and Oklahoma State University have similar stories. Net result: Biomedical funding is a powerful engine that fuels our economy. Another method computes economic impact in terms of jobs. The OMRF employs (or has on contract) about 450 people. Since about half of our funds come from outside the state, one could view this as 225 jobs created from our own biomedical research effort alone. These economists say that "for every job created directly by funds from outside the state, another job is created in the community. …

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