Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Regional Focus: Science and Culture in Maryland


A biomedical engineer is using a new computer tool to identify genetic mutations that pose the greatest risk of developing into cancer. A federal scientist delves into the metabolism of the brain. A company develops and begins to market DNA- and RNA-based tests for infectious diseases. Maryland, it seems, is good not only for crab dinners, but also for bioscience research and development.

Along the roadside of I-270 are government agencies, university labs, and private firms. This so-called “DNA Alley” connects bucolic western Maryland, home of Fort Detrick, to the cosmopolitan eastern part of the state, with the campus of the University of Maryland.

Tempted by the prospect of economic gains, regions across the globe are finding ways to lure biotech companies to their neighborhood. But Maryland has been successfully attracting scientists for years. Of its 5.3 million residents, more than 30,000 are doctoral scientists or engineers. Such a concentration of PhDs — Maryland is ranked second in the nation for density of doctorates — is no doubt due to its major resident, Bethesda’s NIH, as well as its proximity to Washington, DC.

But what exactly can a scientist expect in Maryland? We’ve gathered facts and figures to help you get a sense of the scientists, science, and culture of the state.

Maryland Basics

Population: 5,296,486
Capital: Annapolis
Known as both: The Old Line State, The Free State
State flower: Black-eyed Susan
State crustacean: Maryland blue crab
State motto: “Fatti maschii parole femine” or “Strong deeds, gentle words”
Average annual temperature: 55.1° F
Bethesda residents with graduate degrees: 29.1%
Utility patents issued to Maryland residents in 2004: 1,313

Famous Residents

Maryland is already home to many science-oriented institutions. The University of Maryland, in College Park, has 3,674 faculty members and a 2007 operating budget of $1.35 billion. Maryland has 21 Division I NCAA teams.

Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, has 3,100 full-time faculty members and an operating budget of $2.4 billion. Thirty-two Nobel laureates had a connection with Johns Hopkins University.

The National Institutes of Health has 27 institutes and centers in Bethesda.
More than 350 companies in Maryland specialize in biosciences.

Between 1999 and 2004, 1,630 awards for small business innovation research were given to Maryland businesses.

Government Policies

Maryland has set up some policies that may aid the savvy researcher or company. In 2006, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Act appropriated $15 million for stem cell research. So far, 85 applications for funding have been received.

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation sponsors the Maryland technology transfer program by funding state companies with up to $75,000 to develop technologies or services in collaboration with a university or federal laboratory.

Maryland offers individual and corporate investors a tax credit. Businesses can also apply for a research and development tax credit.

In 2005, Maryland organizations received the most NIH R&D contract awards, totaling $757 million.

Salary and Standard of Living

Annual wage in Maryland of a:

Biochemist or biophysicist: $59,653
Medical scientist: $71,582
Chemist: $82,635

Median home price in Montgomery County: $425,000

In 2005, Maryland had the second lowest poverty rate in the country, at 8.2 percent, compared with the nationwide median of 13.3 percent.

Getting to Know You

Sometimes even the most die-hard scientist needs to get out of the lab. There, too, Maryland has much to offer. Rich in history, Maryland is home to Antietam, the USS Constellation, and John Brown’s headquarters. For the more creatively inclined, Silver Spring hosts the Silverdocs documentary film festival each June, Annapolis has a center for the creative arts, and Baltimore has the Edgar Allan Poe house. And for the competitive sort, Marylanders can easily catch a Baltimore Orioles games, see the Washington Redskins play, or take a journey back in sports history at the Babe Ruth Museum. For those that just cannot get enough science, there is the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center to visit in Baltimore.

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.