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Maryland Stem Cell Research Symposium

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Maryland Stem Cell Research Symposium


Thank you very, very much. Before we begin, I want to take a moment to recognize all of the award winners and researchers who are joining us today. I was flipping through some of the speaker presentation abstracts and thought about what phenomenal work all of you are doing here in our great State.

I was also struck by the diversity of all of the names on that abstract. And looking around this room, it really represents the greatness of our country that so many people who can trace their ancestry to places all around the globe to this important healing and lifesaving work here in our State, in our great country.

Your work really is proof of what the life sciences can mean to the future of our State and to the future of our nation. And I want to thank the delegates who are here with us today, who work so very, very hard in tough times to make investments that are not easy to defend, not easy to create, not easy to maintain, and not easy to sustain when you look at the bad news that seems to continue to cascade down to State government budgets.

To Renee Winsky and her staff at TEDCO who did such an outstanding job organizing this symposium… to all of the members of TEDCO's Board, and as well as the members of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission, thank you for the tremendous progress you've helped us to make as a State as you work to open up a world of possibilities through our efforts in State-funded stem cell research.
Stem Cell Research and our Shared Future

Change is in the air in our country. I had occasion yesterday to meet with the President-elect in Philadelphia, in Congress Hall, where George Washington himself once presided over a group of individuals, human beings who all signed their name to that document that begins with, "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…"

And it was such an uplifting meeting of intellectual curiosity from our nation's next chief executive, and openness and willingness to explore new horizons, to hear from those who might disagree with him. Because he said, in his words, "I learn a lot more from the people who disagree with me than I do from the people who agree with me."

There is really change in the air. And one of the first things that Barack Obama, as President of the United States, will do after taking that oath will be to reverse that short-sighted ban on Federally-funded stem cell research and get our nation and our Federal government back in the critically important and urgent position of healing and advancing scientific research.

In large ways and small, the work that all of you are doing on stem research in Maryland has a profound impact - not only on our own economy… not only on our own economic future… not only on our ability to heal our neighbors here in the United States of America and throughout the world in advanced medicine and life sciences - but really, it has a lot to do with restoring America's moral leadership of this world, this world of ours in the words of our neighbor and fellow Marylander, Tom Friedman, who wrote that it is becoming increasingly flatter, hotter and more crowded.

We believe in the power and the potential of stem cell research in Maryland. And, therefore, we're investing in this groundbreaking science because we feel in our hearts a compelling imperative to unleash the healing sciences to the most fragile of our neighbors all around this world of ours. To proliferate what Dr. Jeffrey Sachs characterized as the weapons of mass salvation - those discoveries, those innovations, those new advances to healing.

In Maryland, we're developing these weapons of mass salvation through world class institutions of research, discovery, higher learning and higher compassion which define the character of our State's creative and knowledge-based economy. We are developing these new advances through the hard work and the open hearts of so many of you who are here today.

As you work for that brighter tomorrow, we in the O'Malley-Brown Administration are committed to supporting you as much as we possibly can. In the difficult economic times, we are continuing our plans to invest at least $200 million over the next ten years in stem cell research. In our first two years together, even with the $2.2 billion we cut and the $1.3 billion in new revenues that were politically unpopular and difficult to pass, we have been able to invest $38 million in stem cell research in the State's fund.

In addition, it's a little known fact that while there are other states that are much larger than Maryland in terms of population and size, Maryland actually has one of the three largest stem cell funds in the entire country. And unlike some other funds that are still kind of tripping over themselves, trying to figure out how to get the dollars moving, our dollars are actually hitting the labs, are actually getting into the hands of so many of you who are doing this cutting edge work.
Summit Announcement

It is, therefore, a testament to the tremendous leadership being demonstrated by all of you in Maryland's scientific community that today we are able to announce that next September Maryland will host the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit right here. (Applause)

This summit is being hosted by none other than Johns Hopkins University and the University System of Maryland, our two star running backs in this wishbone offense of life science and biotech. The summit will foster collaborations, it will promote economic development and help us to usher in a new era of healing and creativity as we seek together to unlock the life-saving potential of this cutting edge research.

And as we continue to establish Maryland as an international leader in stem cell research, the Summit will bring together nearly 1,500 stem cell stakeholders from across the nation and around the world, representing researchers, industry leaders, policy makers, regulators, advocates, legal experts and investors, as well as philanthropists.

The Summit will be organized by the Genetics Policy Institute, a leading promoter and defender of stem cell research and other cutting edge medical research targeting cures throughout our world.
Maryland Leads the Way

Having been chosen to host this conference is really quite an honor for our State, and I'm very, very grateful to all of those who made the decision to come to Maryland. It follows a great deal of recognition that we've been receiving over the efforts that we've made together as One Maryland to invest in our own potential as a people, who dream of a new tomorrow and, more importantly, they actually take affirmative actions to bring that new tomorrow into today.

This past summer, the Milken Institute actually moved our bioscience rating from number four in the nation to number two in the nation, behind only Massachusetts. But it affirms that in Maryland we are not standing still. We are moving ahead, and we're making progress. To move from fourth to second, we are, therefore, one of the top two states in America that is best positioned to leverage our science and technology assets for economic growth and economic opportunity.

One of the reasons for this high ranking is that one of the criteria they looked at was the degree to which any state invests in the talents, the skills and the education of our people. And in that criteria, in that ranking, we rank not fourth… we rank not third… not second… but number one in terms of what we invest in the talents, the skills, and the education of our people. (Applause)

And that really defines the greatness of our character as a people.

The reason that Forbes magazine says that in Maryland we have one of the top three most highly skilled workforces in the country is because of that number one ranking. Because of the dollars we invest, because of the hard work that we invest in the talents and skills of our people.

It is not coincidental, it is causal that we would have one of the top three workforces in the country and that we would have one of the top three public school systems in the country.

It's not to say that we're done, but we are making progress. And we should all be very, very proud and proclaim to all of our fellow citizens who come to this Summit that Maryland is the State that is moving forward - that Maryland is leading the way. The Summit will bring together nearly 1,500 stakeholders from across the nation, around the world. And it's going to be a terrific event.

Together, we're investing $2.7 billion in our four year colleges and universities. That's an increase of about $613 million over the comparable period of the prior administration.

And together we've created a P to 20 Council - pre-kindergarten through grade 20 - so that we can better coordinate, integrate and align the efforts that are so critically important in that whole continuum that develops that highly skilled creative, innovative workforce.

Together, we've also created the Life Sciences Advisory Board to draw upon our State's best and brightest minds to create a strategic vision and a strategic plan for securing Maryland's global leadership in the life sciences.

And we are marketing our State's bioscience sector across the globe. In May, I joined a delegation from Maryland and traveled to Israel to promote bioscience partnerships with Israeli companies and to attend an international biosciences conference. You know, when they assigned the booths, I think we were one of the very first States to actually start there. And it's paid dividends. Approximately 40 Israeli companies who are united with American businesses are now headquartered here in our great State.

In addition, delegations from China, India, Ireland, Russia, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Japan, Uganda and Montenegro have visited Maryland to learn more about business and investment opportunities in our State in life sciences and biotech.

Together, we're investing directly in our bioscience sector as well. This summer, right before heading out to the Bio Conference in San Diego, we launched our Bio 2020 Initiative. We looked across the board at all of the things that we are doing and asked ourselves what we could do to increase and advance that progress more quickly and more substantially than any other State in the Union.

So the Bio 2020 Initiative is a $1.3 billion investment in the years ahead in our bioscience sector which represents, to our best knowledge, information and belief, the largest per capita investment that any State has ever made in the life sciences. Bio 2020 is projected to leverage $6.3 billion in private investment for Maryland. And it's really our future.

We are expanding our State's Biotechnology Investment Tax Credit as well, which in only two years has leveraged $24 million for growing Maryland biotech companies.

In addition, through Bio 2020 we are also borrowing a good idea from another state to our south, North Carolina, which, frankly, was not in this top ranking of the Milken Institute, but has done, you must admit, a much better job of marketing what they have than we have in the years past in Maryland. So we are going to be creating the Maryland BioTechnology Center, a one-stop shop that will include TEDCO's transfer initiatives, which will support biotechnology innovation and entrepreneurship in Maryland and will consolidate the various State, academic and private sector research ventures.

And we're expanding our technology incubator network, following a TEDCO study, which found a strong demand for additional space.

These are all things which I hope will give you some hope and optimism, if you don't already have hope and optimism from the change that's in the air nationally.

Maryland has an important responsibility. It's our legacy, especially in times of great national challenge and great adversity, to lead the way. To lead the way with our belief in the dignity of every individual. To lead the way in our belief in our own responsibility to advance the common good. To lead the way in our own belief that our diversity really is our greatest strength. It is the thing that makes us the moral leader of this world.

Recently I had occasion to attend the reopening of the renovated Smithsonian Museum of American History. And a number of contributors from the private sector helped to refurbish the Star Spangled Banner that flew in our State in a very dark time in our country's history.

And if you have not visited the Star Spangled Banner in her new setting, I encourage you to do it. It is not only a patriotic experience, but it is almost a religious experience to enter that dark hall where she is arrayed as you walk in that room.

And as you view that banner, think about the people who came together and defended our country's liberty. And think about the people who defend it today. It is a little known fact that one out of five of the defenders of Baltimore were African American citizens and 60 percent of the defenders of Baltimore were immigrants.

At the end of the day, I truly believe that our greatness as a society, our greatness as a people, really the power of our liberty, is not going to be determined, defined, realized by how many smart bombs we can drop on our enemies halfway around the world. It is going to be determined by how many smart, compassionate, educated hands and innovative minds that we can extend to the most fragile of our neighbors all around the globe. It's about how we are able in our own time really to proliferate, to create, those weapons of mass salvation.

We are only able to reach across our new scientific horizons because of all of you; people who risk action on the faith that one person can make a difference and that each of us must try. It's really because of your knowledge, your experience and, above all, your compassion that we are able to hold our heads high as Marylanders, to be that State that leads all other States, especially in times of great adversity.

So I thank you for opening your minds, opening your hearts, and for choosing to make Maryland your home. For choosing to realize your talents and the contributions they make to a kinder and healthier and better world and to do that right here in our State. And I am really looking forward to the arrival of the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit to our State next September.

And I thank you so very, very much for the important work that you do every day. Thank you. (Applause)

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