Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani

Strengthening Biomedical Research and Development to Enable Innovation, Create Jobs and Prepare our Economy for the 21st Century

December 8, 1998
Russ Berrie Pavilion Conference Center, Columbia University

 
As Delivered Mayor's Task Force on Biomedical Research and Development


Thank you, Dr. Pardes.

Over the last five years, I think everyone recognizes that in many different ways, New York City is doing much better, and in many fundamental ways it's in the process of substantial and very positive change. So today I want to discuss with you a strategy to maintain and build upon this growth as we head into the 21st century. I want to talk to you about how as a City we can assure that New York City will be the medical research center of the future just like we're the capital of the world for finance, the capital of the world for art and culture, and the capital of the world for baseball, we are and should be the capital of the world for biomedical research because we have all of the advantages to make that happen, if we do what we're supposed to do correctly.

THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH AND BIOTECHNOLOGY TO OUR ECONOMY AND CULTURE

This century, discoveries and innovations in medicine have transformed the way that we live - and in many ways, they've transformed the world that we live in.

Here in New York City, our history is overflowing with examples of scientific discovery and medical and technological progress that we've been able to develop here and contribute to the citizens of the city, the citizens of the country, and the citizens of the world. It's particularly fitting that we're at Columbia, because many of the innovations that have done so much to benefit all of us have happened right here in your labs. And they continue to happen all the time. I think we couldn't have selected a better place to make this address and to point out the things that we'd like to do.

But as impressive as Columbia's record is, you all know that what we have to do is create the same kind of excitement, the same kind of innovation all throughout the City of New York. And when we consider that we have the benefit of Columbia, NYU-Mt. Sinai, New York Hospital-Cornell, Albert Einstein, Rockefeller University and many others that I haven't mentioned that will get annoyed that I haven't, we're really in exactly the right position to take advantage of what's going to be happening over the next 10 to 30 years.

Because of its many successes, the biomedical research community has become fundamentally important to the economy of the City, the state, and region. Let me give you a few statistics. he industry is responsible for more than $1.5 billion in spending and it directly employing more than 25,000 people, which is a major presence - one of the largest industries in the City. Every $100 million invested in research results in the creation of 2,840 new jobs. And the health care industry as a whole is probably the City's largest employer - and biomedical research is not only part of the foundation of that. It's the area where, if there's going to be continued growth, that's where it's going to happen..

Biomedical research is also becoming a much more important part of what is happening at the national level and in the United States economy. In the first year of an anticipated five-year push to greatly expand the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Congress increased the funding by an unprecedented 15 percent, or $2 billion, for fiscal year 1999. And that is expected to be the beginning of a trend that will see the budget of NIH double in five years.

So, from a practical point of view, from a scientific point of view, and from every point of view possible, New York City should put itself in a position to be getting as much of that funding as possible, given the fact that the federal government is offering money. Maybe it'll make up for some of the imbalance that we have in which we send the federal government about $8 or $9 billion more than we get back every year.

THE CHALLENGE WE FACE

Let me give you some of the evidence, though, that we are not, and haven't been over the last 8, 10, 15 years doing everything that we could do to take advantage of our potential. Our potential is great. So far, we haven't used that potential the way that we should.

New York State used to be the nation's unrivaled leader in biomedical research, attracting 15.1 percent of all NIH funding back in 1981. Today, we're no longer first. We rank third - and New York should never be third, right? we should always be first - with 10.9 percent of the total funding. So we've gone down from 15 percent to 10.9 percent. That difference alone would have accounted for $350 million more in 1996. And given what's happening, that differential, unless we change it, is going to grow and grow and grow to $500 million and $800 million and who knows how much more.

In the last fifteen years, as total NIH funding has risen from $2 billion to $8 billion, New York institutions have been unable to increase the number of NIH-funded researchers. While other leading states have dramatically increased their number of NIH-funded researchers - Massachusetts, Illinois, California have all had dramatic increases. New York has dropped by 12 researchers. In many, many respects, we have not been taking advantage of our potential.

It's still true that York City's share of total NIH funding today, which is $764.3 million, is very, very impressive. But we should realize that we could have done a lot better, which means that we now have to organize ourselves to do a lot better.

The reality of the modern economy is that sustained growth requires both competition and collaboration. It means that medical schools and health care institutions once made New York the dominant player in medical research have to work together to try to take advantage of the opportunities that we have.

Fortunately, there are already some very excellent models that are working and that are being put together that allow us to do that - like the Academic Medicine Development Company. It's a strong private, independent coalition of 25 leading academic medical institutions in the City who together are coming up with strategies for securing funds by working together as a group rather than working against each other. When you look at the number of possibilities that we have in the City, if we work together for the benefit of the entire City, there's nothing that we really can't accomplish.

STRATEGIES FOR THE FUTURE:
ENHANCING COMPETITIVENESS AND FOSTERING COOPERATION

As I said, competition between institutions and individual researchers is still very important, but we also need to have overarching collaboration and cooperation in areas where we can accomplish more together than we can alone. And we'll do everything that we can to encourage collaborative process that allows us to compete effectively with other regions, other cities, and other places.

1. Creating Lasting Institutions and Structures for Innovation and Collaboration
The New York City Cancer Project, which we announced about a week ago, is a very, very good example of that. It'll be an unparalleled consortium of over 20 of New York's top research and community health institutions united and working together to address the epidemic of cancer - which is responsible for 25 percent of all deaths in New York City every single year. The study is being coordinated by the non-profit Academic Medicine Development Company. And the study, represent real promise of a lot more information, a lot more assistance, a lot more help in both determining the causes of cancer and the treatment for cancer. And it's something that can only be done in New York City because of the wide range of academic and medical institutions that we have and the diverse population that isn't matched anywhere else in the country.

If the pilot is successful, the full study of the Cancer Project, funded by federal grant money, will conduct a study of 300,000 local residents over a 20 year period to determine the interactions of known genetic, dietary and environmental factors in causing cancer and to improve methods for early detection.

The City as you know is committing the original money for the project in the hope that by doing the pilot project and making it successful, that it will grow into one of the largest if not the largest medical projects in the country, and something that will be of practical assistance to us, scientific assistance, and also, just in the same way as we would promote new businesses in all areas, it will bring us a lot more jobs at a time in which we need that.

Another example is The New York Structural Biology Center, which is a collaborative venture formed by the New York City Partnership. The City's been very, very proud to help the Partnership as it has brought together nine or ten area universities and hospitals. And the collaboration, which will be funded by private dollars, will establish a new world class research facility on the campus of City College at 131st Street and Convent Avenue - another big step forward for the City of New York.

We expect the center to spur direct and indirect economic growth, and place us in a leadership position in this critical and emerging field.

Another example is The Bernard & Gloria Salick Center for Molecular and Cellular Biology at Queens College, which will be established as a leading national institution in the research of HIV and AIDS. The Center, will open in 2001 and it's being constructed on the Queens College campus. And it will conduct innovative molecular and cellular biological research and develop new treatment and prevention strategies for HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. I'd like to thank Queens College President Allen Sessoms for his leadership and all of the work that's been done at Queens College to make this a reality.

It's really an example of what we were talking about before, of what we have to continue to do. It's the forging of relationships between local hospitals, in this case in Queens, and research laboratories to allow the City to benefit from the latest advances the international medical community has to offer. The idea is to lay the basis for an ambitious vaccine development program involving a network of laboratories throughout the City and state. As the network of laboratories grows, the Salick Center hopes to develop an exchange program of scientists and students that develop even further opportunities for research and training.

Like the other research centers endowed with private money, and let me mention a few of them… the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research at Rockefeller University, the Silberstein Aging and Dementia Research Laboratory at NYU, the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Rockefeller University - which is headed by Dr. David Ho… the Salick Center will become a fixture in the City and a international pioneer in research. These research institutions are a testament to the difference that individual benefactors can make in changing the lives of New Yorkers and people around the world - and any more that would like to come forward, they're very much encouraged.

We will also continue to have the City support and encourage a wide range of collaborations, like the Biomedical Research Alliance of New York, which is a $300 million biomedical research support fund dedicated to attracting 300 new, high-caliber biomedical researchers to our City and state. As you can see, what we're trying to do is to make sure that the City remains committed, not just this year and next year, but into the next century, to create an environment that's conducive to medical research and development.

2. Task Force on Biomedical Research and Development
To do this, we have to also look at our own policies, and target and eliminate specific government disincentives that might keep researchers and research institutions from coming to the City, staying in the City, growing in the City.

Many of the things that we've changed are things where the actual policies and programs of the City of New York were counterproductive to the result that we wanted to reach, whether it was in the area of business or welfare. To a very large extent, the City wasn't so much the victim of social forces. The City was creating the problem in the first place with very, very unwise policies that it would not reexamine. And the same thing is true here, whether we're talking about taxes, regulations, land use, zoning - there are a lot of obstacles that we place in the way of the result that we'd like to reach, which is to be the number one biomedical research center in the world. One thing that we've done that is helping, however, is the "Plug 'n' Go" program. It's made it easy for high technology firms in the City to set up shop with all the basic tools they need to run a business. We'll expand it, because within five years, there won't be a single business in a single industry that will settle for anything less than state-of-the-art Internet connectivity. We'll enlarge the idea of "Plug 'n' Go" by offering one-stop shopping for existing biomedical research enterprises that want to set up shop or expand. To determine broader and deeper changes that can be made all across the City, I am announcing the formation of the Task Force on Medical Research and Development, and we're going to ask the task force to recommend swift and constructive ways the city can eliminate disincentives and create a climate for medical research that is competitive. I'm asking Dr. Pardes, who is the Dean of the Columbia University Faculty of Medicine, and in and of himself a great resource for the City, to work with the Mayor's Office in putting together the task force. The task force is going to have at least a three-part mission.

When the task force finishes outlining and refining the City's strategies, short-term and long-term, we'll host a conference in the Spring of 1999 that will present the plan to our biomedical research community and send the message both throughout the country and throughout the world that New York City, is going to use all its strengths, all of the unique capacity that we have, to reclaim our place as absolutely and unquestionably number one in this field.

3. Creating Research Parks
But there's more that we can also do immediately to attract researchers. The Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park here at Columbia - Audubon II, which is now operating, and Audubon III, which is going to be operating soon - is a great example of how we can take advantage of the great institutions we have like Columbia and the capacity we have for expansion to assist this industry in obtaining space, obtaining buildings.

I'll ask the task force to investigate the possibility of establishing, in collaboration with the City's Economic Development Corporation, other medical research parks here and throughout the City of New York with facilities designed toward medical research.

I will also ask the task force to look at changes in our zoning regulations to give biotechnology and biomedical research and testing laboratories more space to expand, and a lot more of a connection to the Economic Development Corporation so they can obtain help with financing, investment, and the kind of money that's needed that ultimately converts itself into jobs and opportunities for the City to grow economically.

4. Focusing City Government's Role
But research activity cannot, and should not, be limited only to designated industrial parks. That's why we'll also designate an Advisor within the Mayor's Office - a specific person, a very, very small little office, no bureaucracy, but a person who actually works, not a bureaucracy - who will reach out to our medical research community and guide scientists with questions about how to start a biotechnology business or set up a research laboratory so that no business or scientist can say that New York City's bureaucracy kept them from coming here.

We've been very successful in certain areas of business in breaking down the anti-business attitude that New York City almost prided itself on for 50 years, in essence almost saying to businesses that were producing jobs for us, "We don't really understand your problems, we don't want to understand them, and we just want to take advantage of you." We want to change that. The things that we can solve, we want to be able to solve, and to have a person at a high level in the Mayor's Office who can relate to the task force, to the industry, and see how we can help you attract more of these opportunities to the City, I think can be very, very helpful.

It can do practical things like help get the permits that are needed and help cut through this very, very difficult bureaucratic maze that we have in this City. We'll offer, for example, a single location - with a single toll-free telephone number and website - to all biotechnology companies and biomedical researchers, so that in one place they will be able to figure out what they need so that we make it as simple as possible for them to get started and to expand in the City.

5. Ensuring Long-Term Collaboration between Academia and Industry
One of the most important things that we have to do, however, is have stronger lines of communication. New York City's universities are some of the very, very best in the world. It always gets me annoyed when people think of Boston as kind of the college and university center of the United States. We have more universities (we've got a much better baseball team, too) and we have more outreach than any city in the United States. We have great universities and great colleges, and I'm not sure that we as a City have always taken advantage of that, nor may I say, most respectfully, have the colleges and universities taken advantage of the way in which they can work together. They haven't broken out of the ivory tower as much as they should.

According to BusinessWeek magazine, based on interviews with experts and leaders in academia and industry, the new economic realities for universities dictate - and they give a number of recommendations, but the one that's of relevance to us is - that they must encourage entrepreneurship, developing ties with area development officials, business executives, and venture capitalists.

So that we, too, here in New York City can turn prolific research and ideas into innovations, our universities should follow this advice. Professors who develop great innovations should be able to start companies based on these innovations without losing their appointments. We should build on the success of an organization like the Columbia Innovation Enterprise, which does an excellent job of harnessing private sector funding for university research and development, but also facilitating the start-up of new companies and businesses based on the innovations developed at the university.

You know, part of this is taking on philosophy that was so great in the City and in some parts of academia that business is immoral. The fact is that business is like anything else - good, average and bad. There are good, average and bad people; there are good, average and bad schools. There are good, average and bad everything. Business is enormously important and can create opportunities that academia alone cannot possibly accomplish - and vice versa. Academia can create opportunities, innovation, creativity, and growth that business can't possibly accomplish. And I think the wisdom of this article and a lot of other thinking is that in an appropriate way that relationship should be much greater. And what better city to do it in, where we have the greatest colleges and universities, and we're unquestionably the business capital of the world.

Continuing the transformation at Columbia and other area academic institutions will take time, but it's a very, very important direction to move in.

6. Attracting Talent from Outside the City
Let me for a moment before I conclude focus on what I regard as New York City's greatest resource beyond anything else that I've mentioned - financial, academic, political, social, moral. And that's called immigration. The reason we are the great City that we are, and the best known City in the world, is because we're a City that's open to people. We're not afraid of people, and we're not afraid of new people. We're the City that people most want to come to from all around the world. That is our tremendous strength, and in this area more than any other we can take advantage of that strength.

By the year 2006, immigrants will account for half of all new workers in the United States. This means that without immigrants, the U.S. workforce would begin to shrink by 2015. And in science and technology, the role of immigrants may be even more pivotal. Immigrants are 50 percent more likely than Americans to have a graduate degree... and currently, 23 percent of U.S. residents holding Ph.D.s in science and engineering are foreign-born, according to the National Science Foundation.

Now protectionists, or frightened people, would say, "Well, the answer to that is: let's keep out immigrants, because that's hurting us." But the reality is, let's bring in more immigrants and then let's use that as a challenge to make sure that they contribute, we contribute, and we end up overall with a much better educated and a much more productive society.

New York has always benefited more than any other city from not being afraid of what immigrants can bring to us. And if I could digress for a moment about immigration… immigrants remind us of what we should be doing that we're not doing. Immigrants remind us, for example, of why we're so fortunate to be Americans because they have figured out why they want to be Americans. Some of us have forgotten why we're Americans. We think only of our problems. We don't think of all the wonderful things and opportunities that exist in this country that don't exist anyplace else. Immigrants remind us of that.

When immigrants are doing better academically than we are - "we" meaning people who have been here second generation, third generation, and fourth generation - it doesn't say anything wrong about them, or anything that should frighten us about them. It says something about us that we should correct. And we need that for the benefit of our children. We need that challenge. It's a good one, and it's a healthy one, and it's at the core of why this City is better than any other city.

To address this matter, the U.S. Congress approved legislation as part of its 1999 omnibus appropriations bill which increases the number of immigrants eligible for what are called H-1B visas. H-1B visas are for people "in a specialty occupation." The cap on H1-B visas was 65,000 per year; Congress has approved an increase to 115,000 for fiscal years 1999 and 2000. And given where the Congress was a few years ago in its anti-immigrant feelings and attitudes, this is a step in the right direction.

We're going to ask the task force to work with EDC to determine ways in which we can improve our global recruitment efforts that bring world-class scientists and potential scientists to New York so that they can do their work here and they can help us grow.

7. Nurturing and Training Talent Within the City
But we also have to do what we should be doing here to take advantage of what that competition means for us. From elementary schools through secondary schools to undergraduate and graduate programs, we have to turn out more men and women who are not only prepared for the 21st century economy, but are poised to take a leading role in research and development.

Today I am proposing, with the concurrence and support of Chancellor Rudy Crew, a major new apprenticeship program that will link high school students across the City to medical researchers to give students the opportunity to learn about science and its applications. Just like the students in our City have unparalleled opportunities to learn about business with the presence of a vast and huge business community in this City, there are tremendous, untapped opportunities to learn about science and medicine and medical research. We can both do a better job of linking that together. And Chancellor Crew and the Board are very, very excited about this initiative.

We're also, with the assistance and help of the Chancellor going to work together to develop a high school specializing in training students in medical research and innovation. We already have similar high schools in several very specialized fields, and this is one that I think can help to create a home and a place in which this kind of linkage can take place. I believe that this City, which is blessed with the leading healthcare institutions and medical research institutions in the country, should ensure that this passes on, that this whole area is of great advantage to the young people of the City.

CONCLUSION

Over the last five years, part of what we've tried to accomplish is to take New York City, which in a number of different areas had slipped to second, third, fourth, fifth place, and try to move it back up to first place. We did it with the Yankees. And we've done it in so many other areas - quality of life, we've done it with crime, we've done it with jobs. We're going to create more jobs this year than any time since 1951. A lot of people don't even know that. We're at about 78,000, 79,000 new private sector jobs. The City hasn't seen a year like that since 1951.

We're moving unprecedented numbers of people off government dependency, moving them toward an opportunity to investigate their taking care of themselves, which is a tremendous human and social transformation.

This is an area in which we should become ascendant again, where we should be at the very top, not just for our benefit, but for the benefit of the rest of the country, because we have talents to offer, and opportunities that can help the rest of the United States.

The idea behind quality of life achievements and accomplishments is that there's always more to do. You're always challenged to try to do better and to do more. Now, this is the area in which we should focus that challenge. A truly forward-looking City uses opportunities like this to deepen and to broaden its economic resurgence.

I know - because this is the great asset that the Mayor of New York City always has, which if you understand it, is the key to all success: We may have some of the biggest problems in the world, because we're such a large City. But we have more talent in this City than anyplace else. There's just no question about that. And a sensible government, a rational academic community, and focused businesses working together can accomplish a tremendous amount.

There's no better area to do it than medical and biomedical research. So once again, thank you to Columbia. Dr. Pardes, thank you very much for agreeing to help us and assist us. And all of you, I look forward to very, very quickly seeing New York emerge in the same way as we have in so many other areas as clearly number one in the biomedical and medical research field.

Thank you very much.

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