FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Senate Majority Policy Committee Examines Economic Impact of the CURE Program
Harrisburg – The Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware), held a public hearing today to discuss the economic impact of the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program.
The CURE program was created by Act 77 of 2001, the Tobacco Settlement Act, which directed the Pennsylvania Department of Health to establish a health research initiative. Under the program, research grants are funded with Tobacco Settlement funds and awarded for clinical, health services, and biomedical research.
Last week, the Senate passed a budget that restored Tobacco Settlement funding for the CURE program to the current level of $58.8 million.
"As the budget process continues, we want to make sure legislators have a full understanding of the impact of CURE on the Pennsylvania economy and on medical innovation," Erickson said. "With CURE, Pennsylvania is competing successfully for the recruitment and retention of skilled researchers in life sciences. These researchers bring hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funds with them and are able to support a highly skilled workforce, contributing to our overall economic growth. If CURE is not funded, Pennsylvania will lose these individuals to other states where research dollars are available."
Three world-class scientists testified before the committee. Dr. Dario Altieri, Director of the Wistar Institute Cancer Center, and Chief Scientific Officer of the Wistar Institute, noted that over the past 10 years, CURE dollars have supported the completion of 1,672 research and infrastructure projects, publication of 1,424 research articles in the peer-reviewed biomedical literature, and the filing of 69 patent applications. CURE funding has leveraged an additional $946 million in outside grant funding for recipient institutions from an original allocation of $413 million.
Dr. David L. Wiest, Vice President and Deputy Chief Scientific Officer of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, explained that Fox Chase has obtained CURE funding to support research focused on developing better cancer treatments.
"In addition to the obvious health benefits of investing CURE funds in cancer research, there are economic benefits as well," he said. "The health care sector is one of the fastest growing and most recession-proof in the state. Moreover, for every dollar of CURE funds invested in research, nearly 2.5 dollars of federal research funds are returned to the state."
Dr. Stephan A. Grupp, Director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, testified that CURE has helped fund his groundbreaking childhood leukemia research, specifically immunotherapy.
"In addition to working to develop these cells as a treatment and testing them in my lab, I am a practicing pediatric oncologist, so my main goal is to bring these new treatments to kids with no hope for a cure," he testified. "This is where CURE support comes in. The CURE grant we got for this work let us set up the infrastructure at CHOP to treat children for the first time. With this support we were able to open a treatment protocol, and I was able to hire the necessary staff."
May 22, 2012 - Public Hearing on Economic Impact of Pennsylvania's CURE Program
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