Ohio will compete nationally, globally in health care


Ohio is a burgeoning health care and biomedical state, but many of our own citizens are unaware of the magnitude of our rich resources and the potential impact they can have on economic growth and job creation. Our area is full of amazing medical resources — from educational institutions, to health care providers, medical manufacturers and biomedical research facilities. We also have effective local, regional and statewide business groups, chambers of commerce and economic development entities. Ohio is poised to compete nationally and globally in health care and the scientific research that improves health. It is time to come together to raise awareness of these resources, find new ways to attract business and generate additional growth and investment.

Health care, the biomedical industry and medical research are not only good for the health of our residents, but also good for the health of the Ohio economy.

Huge inventory

For example, Northeast Ohio is currently home to more than 600 medical-related organizations with 230,000 health care and bioscience workers. The area boasts 60 hospitals, 30 colleges and universities with health care professional education programs and 12 of the nation’s top 18 medical device manufacturers. The research and commercialization projects that are completed in our region and state significantly add to the economic impact through job creation, capital investments and education. By coming together and highlighting the medical and research breakthroughs occurring throughout our state, we can easily position ourselves as a top-tier bioscience cluster.

Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the nation, but currently ranks tenth in the receipt of medical and scientific research funds (about $770 million) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is in contrast to North Carolina, that is the tenth most populous but ranks seventh in NIH funding (about $1.1 billion). If Ohio is seventh in population, we should at least be seventh in NIH funding. If Ohio were to change just this one inconsistency, it could mean an increase of hundreds of millions in research funding for the state and 10,000 new jobs for Ohioans. By effectively coming together as a state and pooling our resources and our advocacy, this is a goal that we can attain.

National exposure

It is also critical that Ohio join forces with medical and scientific entities that can help bring national exposure to our efforts. Partnering with a nationally-recognized organization like Research!America can help bring much needed visibility to our state. Research!America is a national non-profit organization that works for strong public policies and federal funding for medical and health research, mobilizing the public to contact Congress and hosting briefings and meetings with members of Congress and their staff. The alliance represents about 125 million Americans through 415 professional organization and non profits, business entities, academic institutions, foundations and local governmental agencies. There are currently more than 24 institutional members in Ohio. In an August 2010 poll commissioned by Research!America, 91 percent of Americans said they think research is important to their state’s economy; 71 percent said investing in research is important to job creation and economic recovery, and 97 percent reported education and training in science, technology, engineering and math are important to future U.S. competitiveness and prosperity.

Partnerships

Across the United States, there are many regions and states that have become known for their economic focus through health care and biomedical research — i.e. the Research Triangle in North Carolina and Silicon Valley in California. By joining forces, the entities in these areas were able to bring attention to their biomedical areas of focus and make a positive and lasting impact in their region. In this time of recession, health care reform and scarcity of resources, it is more important than ever that Northeast Ohio partner effectively with the entire state to bring our health care business and medical enterprises together as a single cluster to attract more companies, gain national exposure and grow our research assets.

Jay A. Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D., is president of the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy (NEOUCOM) and a member of the board of directors of Research!America, which describes itself as the nation’s largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance committed to making research to improve health a higher national priority.

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