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Stem Cell Research & Maryland

Location: Baltimore, MD

World Stem Cell Summi
(As Prepared)

Thank you very much for this gracious award and for choosing Maryland to host this year's Summit. Special thanks are due our esteemed co-hosts, John Hopkins University and the University System of Maryland. And of course to everyone with the Genetics Policy Institute, which, in addition to organizing today's event, continues to provide an important voice on behalf of Stem Cell Research and other cutting edge sciences in the realm of healing.

To those who are visiting us from throughout the country and around the world: welcome to the Great State of Maryland, "The Home of the Genome." I promised Christian Johansson, our Secretary of Business and Economic Development, that I would offer you three words of advice for your time in Baltimore, and they are these: "spend, spend, spend."

We are very proud to be hosting you here in Maryland, where we have long been committed to supporting and promoting Stem Cell Research even in times when the previous Administration in Washington fought against it tooth and nail.

Today, it remains our goal and vision to make Maryland the most welcoming environment for stem cell research and all the life sciences not just in the United States of America, but in the world.

The remarkable international participation at today's Summit is a real testament to the emerging reality that our world is growing increasingly more connected and interdependent.

In nearly every part of our planet, cities, communities, and countries are grappling with very similar challenges: The challenges of leading in security. The challenges of leading in skills and education. The challenges of leading in sustainability. The challenges of renewing the human spirit.

Connected to all of these challenges are the life sciences -- these emerging technologies which hold so much promise for revolutionizing the way we feed, fuel, and heal our world.

The social entrepreneur Paul Hawken writes that quote, "while so much is going wrong, so much is going right. Over the years, the ingenuity of organizations, engineers, designers, social entrepreneurs, and individuals has created a powerful arsenal of alternatives. The financial and technical means are in place to address and restore the needs of the biosphere and society. Poverty, hunger, and preventable childhood diseases can be eliminated in a single generation."

As we stand at our own cutting edge of history, these incredible human breakthroughs are helping to reawaken a commitment -- all across the world -- to protecting the dignity of every individual. They are igniting a newfound embrace of our shared responsibility to advance the common good. They are instilling a sense in our common humanity that there is a unity to spirit and matter and that the things we do in this lifetime matter,…

… And they are affirming a higher truth which proclaims that a society's greatness derives not from its ability to drop smart bombs on its enemies, but in the smart, compassionate, helping hands it is able to extend to our common humanity,… The proliferation of what Dr. Jeffrey Sachs calls "weapons of mass salvation."

Stem Cell Research, we'd all agree, carries with it some of the greatest potential in humanity's salvation arsenal.

In our remaining time together this afternoon, I want to briefly tell you a little bit about what we're doing in the State of Maryland to promote and support Stem Cell Research and the biosciences -- and why we continue to believe that we are an ideal location for all those who might be considering investing, researching, locating or relocating in our State.
Stem Cell Research in Maryland

Let's begin with some news,… We're announcing today that our State has entered into a new partnership with the State of California to collaborate on stem cell projects, with the goal of using our combined effort to advance this emerging technology even further.

At the same time, we are working to step up our coordination with our federal partners, now that we finally have a President in Barack Obama who believes in science and is committed to unlocking the healing potential we see in new scientific frontiers. To further our collaborative efforts, among other things, we are readjusting our own stem cell projects here in Maryland so that we complement the federal initiatives that are currently underway, rather than duplicating them.

As for our state-level efforts, we've invested $56 million in our state stem cell research fund -- even in difficult times -- and we've done so by sending every dollar directly to our labs and researchers,… the people who are working every day in pursuit of breakthroughs, healing and discovery. (We have highlighted for you in this year's Conference Program and Annual Report, some of these promising avenues of stem cell discoveries that are currently underway).

While, our current fiscal climate hasn't given us the flexibility to do quite as much as we would like to do -- and hope to do in better economic times -- the investments we have made are significant: currently supporting 141 Stem Cell Research grants, involving more than 350 researchers, physicians, lab technicians, and other personnel, on top of an estimated 700 researchers who are indirectly funded at labs supporting these grants.
Bioscience in Maryland

In Maryland, our commitment to Stem Cell research is part of our BioMaryland 2020 initiative, the largest investment any state has committed to the life sciences.

As another part of this initiative, just last week we opened the Maryland Biotechnology Center to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

We also are putting a renewed priority on supporting the dreams of emerging bio-entrepreneurs. Whether it is our innovative bioinvestor tax credit, or our 23 technology incubators -- one third of which are biolab capable -- we understand the challenges and unique needs of this industry because we understand the promise.

There are more than 400 bioscience companies doing business in our State, employing more than 26,000 people. In fact, as some of you may know, we are home to one of the two largest per-capita bioscience clusters in America, representing 8% of the entire U.S. industry.

The Milken Institute ranks our bioscience assets as #2 in America, and if you don't mind taking the word of Maryland's overly braggadocios Governor, there are a number of things that make the Old Line State a unique hub of innovation.

None more so than our workforce. In Maryland, we rank #1 in America in the investments we make in the skills, talents, and ingenuity of our people -- and as a return on these investments we have what Education Week magazine says are the #1 best public schools in America, fueling one of the nation's most highly skilled workforces.

We rank first in per capita biomedical and health services workers. We have the highest percentage of doctoral scientists and engineers of any workforce in America. And we also have the second highest percentage of professional and technical workers.

Marylanders and the companies for which they work are involved in cutting-edge biopharmaceutical discovery. They create gene-based diagnostics, they work to integrate biologics and nanotechnology into medical devices, and they are making revolutionary advances with new approaches to vaccine development.

Wait, there's more,…

Maryland is home not only to a world class workforce but to some of the leading institutions of science and discovery on the planet -- including our co-hosts, which also happen to be ranked among the top 20 academic medical centers in America.

And, we're home to every major federal research and regulatory agency that is critically important for the development of new drugs and therapies or protecting our citizens from natural and intended biological threats: the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Food & Drug Administration, the USDA Agricultural Research Services, the National Integrated Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick,… That's just the short list.

We hope those of you who are contemplating your next dream will consider leveraging our assets in Maryland as you seek to make it a reality.

Heraclitus said that "whoever cannot seek the unforeseen sees nothing; for the known way is an impasse."

The next great discovery or breakthrough may not come overnight and may not take the form we had expected. But all of us are here because we believe in progress. Because we believe in the possibility of progress. And because we believe in the possibility and power of seeking the unforeseen.

We live in some truly extraordinary times; times marked both by tremendous peril and by tremendous possibility,… a point in our human existence when our own creativity and imagination have expanded the outer bounds of human achievement and potential as never before, and by exponents never imagined.

In a relative instant of human development, we have taken the vastness of this planet and made it intimately finite for the first time in human consciousness. We have gone from manned flight to men walking on the moon, from vaccine to human genome, from telegraph to internet all in a relative flash of time.

Stem cell research is such a promising part of this new frontier -- carrying with it the potential to heal our neighbors not just in our own states and countries but across our world,…To strengthen the bonds which tie together humanity,… To proliferate weapons of mass salvation,…To seek progress by seeking the unforeseen.

It's an honor to welcome you to the State of Maryland.

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