Why is CURE Important to Pennsylvania?
The Return on Investment, Part I:
Jobs and Economic Growth
For the CURE program, there are multiple economic “harvests,” in the short, medium, and long term.
In the short term, the CURE program directly supports thousands of high-quality, well-paying jobs in the health, medical, and life sciences sectors in Pennsylvania.
- As of June 30, 2011, 292 grants had been awarded to 39 institutions in every part of the state, supporting a broad array of high-impact science and health programs.
- CURE-funded research had been reported in more than 1,424 peer-reviewed articles.
In the medium term, researchers leverage CURE grants to secure larger federal grants, often several multiples of the original investment.
- Grantees have leveraged $946 million in additional research funding from the federal government and other sources.
In the long term, patentable discoveries from CURE-funded research provide the foundation for Pennsylvania-based biotechnology startup companies and strengthen academic-corporate partnerships to drive job growth in the biomedical economic sector.
- To date, this research has led to 69 patent filings for new knowledge with the potential for commercial use.
It's an investment in Pennsylvanians’ health and the economy.
The Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance, representing the Commonwealth’s leading cancer centers across the state, believes the CURE program is a highly productive investment of taxpayer dollars, providing significant returns to Pennsylvania by improving the health of its citizens and growing its economy.
If the CURE program is defunded, experiments will be halted, research projects that have taken years to build will be dismantled, and scientists and laboratory technicians will lose their jobs.
Left intact with sustained funding, the CURE program will advance promising medical discoveries, support the hiring and retention of skilled workers, leverage federal and private research funding, and catalyze the formation of biotechnology companies.
What is the Importance of Sustained Funding in Biomedical Science?
The Governor has indicated that the defunding would be for one year only. But it is important to understand that consistency in funding is absolutely vital for scientific research.
Science depends on steady nurturing. In farming, you cannot irrigate a field in the spring, fail to do so in the summer, and expect to harvest a crop in the fall. Science is much the same: research projects cannot survive with on-again, off-again funding.
Pennsylvania’s economic future depends on its emerging knowledge-based economy. Biomedicine is one of the strongest and fastest growing sectors of that knowledge-based economy. Defunding the CURE program will harm the growth of the Commonwealth’s biomedical sector. Again, to use an analogy from farming, if you eat your seed corn, there will be no crops to harvest in the future.
How Does CURE Help Us Compete Economically in the 21st Century?
Pennsylvania currently is a national leader in biomedical research. In a competitive national landscape, however, one of the most worrisome aspects of the Governor’s proposal to defund CURE is the potential that the Commonwealth will slip behind other states in this all-important economic sector.
The greater Philadelphia region is recognized as the third-leading life sciences cluster in the U.S., behind only Boston and San Francisco. CURE-funded research contributes to Pennsylvania’s prominence in this important economic sector.
The Return on Investment, Part II:
Responding to the Health Needs of Pennsylvanians
In his proposal to defund the CURE program, the Governor suggests applying the funds to long-term care. However, we are unlikely to reduce the staggering cost of healthcare, including long-term care, if we fail to invest in the prevention and treatment of disease. Research will allow us to find cheaper, more effective ways to keep Pennsylvanians healthy.
A brief look at cancer statistics highlights why this investment is needed:
- Cancer is now thought to be the leading disease killer in the world, and this is likely the case for Pennsylvania too.
- One in three Pennsylvanians will be stricken with cancer in his or her lifetime. All of us can expect to have a spouse, friend, colleague, teacher, or child touched by cancer.
- Scientists know that the greatest risk factor for cancer is age, with the majority of so-called baby boomers now in their 50s and 60s. Pennsylvania has the third-highest proportional share of elderly residents in the nation.
- Rates of obesity, which increases cancer risk and impedes recovery, are higher than average in Pennsylvania.
With the CURE program, the Commonwealth is taking appropriate steps to be able to serve the growing cancer needs of the state’s population for the foreseeable future.
States such as Washington, Connecticut, Texas, New York and Michigan are committing significant funds to biomedical research because data shows that the life science sector generates strong investment returns.
CURE funding is critical to our ability to compete with other states for federal research dollars. Eliminating CURE support will cripple our competitiveness with research institutions in other states and countries, resulting in a long-term structural drag on the Commonwealth’s economy and its ability to create jobs.
Even in the demanding fiscal environment of 2012, funding for the CURE program deserves to be preserved based on its remarkable ongoing return on investment and the promise of ever-greater health benefits for all of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Examples of CURE-funded Projects with High Impact for Health and the Economy
- Creation of a state-funded collaborative bioinformatics consortium to share and analyze data on cancer-related genes and proteins
- Creating prototype vaccines to treat colorectal cancer and brain tumors
- Creating a blood test for the early detection of lung cancer, the deadliest cancer in the U.S.
- Using modern molecular, cellular and chemical approaches to produce new treatments for leukemia that are both more effective and less toxic
- Developing chemoprevention agents for hereditary colon cancer
- Identifying methods to change the tumor microenvironment to prevent tumor growth and metastatic spread
- Improving access to cancer prevention studies through a new community hospital consortium
- Finding genetic predictors of drug effectiveness in breast and colon cancer
More About the Alliance
The Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance is a coalition of the state's leading research institutions including Drexel University, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and The Wistar Institute. Formed in 1998, the Alliance works to support the allocation of a portion of the proceeds of the tobacco settlement agreement to support research and prevention of diseases directly linked to tobacco use, including cancer. Alliance members are among the most active academic institutions in the nation with five of the members holding National Cancer Institute center designation– more than any state but California and New York. Learn more about the PA Cancer Alliance
More About the Tobacco Settlement Fund
Act 77 of 2001, the Tobacco Settlement Fund legislation, specified that 19% of the funds be allocated to support health research through the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program. One percent of the funds is to be allocated to National Cancer Institute grant recipients based on their pro rata share of the state's NCI total. The remaining 18% is distributed as follows: (a) 70% going to research institutions based on their share of the state's total NIH funding (called "formula grants"); and (b) 30% distributed by the Department of Health on a competitive basis with priorities established annually (called "non-formula grants").