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Sunday, November 13,2011

Medical research: Good for Ohioans' health & economic health

By Roderick J. McDavis, Ph.D.

Photo Caption: OU President Roderick McDavis

As we sit in a doctor's office or hospital, we seek answers, healing and hope through expertise and treatments. Some of these treatments are the direct result of medical research in Ohio's universities, bioscience companies and hospitals. Ohio is fortunate to have universities that engage in medical research, including Ohio University and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). These universities educate health professionals and scientists while conducting advanced medical research that improves patient care and the health of Ohioans.

Diabetes, cancer, and inflammatory diseases are the focus of research for many faculty scientists at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) in Athens. In 2010, Ohio University was named the top public university in the state and the fourth in the nation for its return on investment performance from research royalty income.

At NEOMED, researchers are making discoveries in the contributing factors of heart and liver diseases, arthritis, autism and Parkinson's disease. Scientists at NEOMED also have developed a device to detect bacteria that cause life-threatening diseases in water and other media, at a fraction of the time of current methods.

As medical research improves the human condition, it also strengthens Ohio's economy through the start-up of new companies and attracting businesses from other regions and countries, which create new jobs and grow Ohio's workforce. Ohio universities, companies and hospitals are working together to highlight our medical breakthroughs and job creation to elevate Ohio's recognition as a top-tier state for medical research and development.

In a 2011 IBOPE Zogby poll of Ohioans, 86 percent of respondents stated that medical and health research is important to the state's economy, 92 percent stated that it is important for Ohio to be a leader in medical and health research, and 88 percent stated that it is important for the state to be a leader in science and technology. Six in 10 believe it's important for Ohio to encourage people to pursue careers that require a solid education in sciences, and 85 percent said it's important for Ohio to support education of health professionals.

Unfortunately, despite strong public support, funding from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and other historic funding sources is projected to decline. This trend must be reversed. In this time of economic challenge, it is more important than ever that Ohio connect our health care businesses and medical enterprises to attract more companies, gain national exposure, and grow our research assets. We must partner effectively and show the world that the State of Ohio is "the go-to place" for medical research and the biomedical industry.

We encourage you to tell our state and federal policymakers that medical research and education is good for Ohioans and good for the Ohio economy.

Editor's note: This letter was also signed by Jay A. Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D., president of Northeast Ohio Medical University, and a member of the Board of Directors of Research!America; and Mary Woolley, president of Research!America.


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