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Money to Burn: States Earmark Tobacco Funds for Biotech Research

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While all 50 states received multi-million dollar tobacco settlements, only a fraction have set aside some of their funds for biomedical research, biomedical infrastructure support, or biotechnology economic development. An overview of those states that are spending in areas of interest to the bioinformatics community follows:

 

Arkansas (2001 settlement payments: $52.1 million)

Arkansas’ Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund earmarks 22.8 percent of its settlement funds for bioscience and biomedical research. The Arkansas Biosciences Institute, a cooperative venture between several Arkansas universities, has received $25 million for an 85,000 square-foot building to house the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Biosciences Institute and $20 million for a 70,000 square-foot building for Arkansas State University’s Biosciences Institute.

 

Connecticut (2001 settlement payments: $110.4 million)

Connecticut has created a Biomedical Research Trust Fund that can provide up to $4 million of the state’s settlement each year in grants to eligible institutions for biomedical research in the fields of heart disease, cancer, and other tobacco-related diseases. Eligible institutions are either nonprofit, tax-exempt academic institutions or hospitals that conduct biomedical research.

 

Illinois (2001 settlement payments: $287.8 million)

Illinois has set up a Biomedical Research Program with a budget of $39.5 million in FY 2002 and $78 million in FY 2003 and beyond. Eligible biomedical research costs include direct as well as capital costs of performing eligible projects. In addition, funding is available for “translational research that facilitates the application of biomedical research discoveries and technology transfer to the biotechnology industries and ultimately to the public,” according to state documents.

 

Michigan (2001 settlement payments: $258.9 million)

Michigan has launched the Life Sciences Corridor program, which will use $1 billion of the state’s share of the tobacco settlement to fund life science research and commercialization and development projects over the next 20 years. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently awarded 18 projects a total of about $45 million under the program, including $14.7 million for the Core Technology Alliance, a consortium of five Michigan universities and research facility laboratories.

Missouri (2001 settlement payments: $140 million)

Missouri has set aside $21.5 million of its tobacco money for life science research, and has created a Life Sciences Research Committee to provide guidance to the state in issuing grants. Funding is available for basic research, translational research, developmental research, and clinical research.

 

Nebraska (2001 settlement payments: $36.8 million)

For FY 2002, Nebraska has set aside $10 million for biomedical research at UNMC, Creighton, UNL, and Boys Town National Research Hospital. This is expected to increase to $14 million annually by FY 2006.

 

New Jersey (2001 settlement payments: $239.1 million)

In 2001, former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman set aside $10 million of the state’s tobacco settlement for cancer treatment and research and another $10 million for biomedical and other high-tech research. This March, Governor McGreevey announced an annual appropriation of $28 million of the settlement money to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey to “increase the resources used for both cancer research and treatment.”

 

Ohio (2001 settlement payments: $311.5 million)

Ohio set up a Biomedical and Technology Transfer Trust Fund with its tobacco settlement money, with an allocation of $4.3 million in FY 2001, $26.7 million in FY 2002, and a total of $46.6 million in FY 2003 and 2004. The Biomedical Research and Technology Transfer Commission has accepted sixteen proposals with a total funding request of $142.8 million, and will announce the awards in October following a competitive review process.

 

Pennsylvania (2001 settlement payments: $342 million)

Pennsylvania launched a Life Sciences Greenhouse initiative, backed with $100 million from its tobacco settlement money. Three Greenhouses will serve as links between life science companies and the state’s universities and research institutions. Each center provides support for technology development, research equipment, training or curricula development, and seed capital for startups. In addition, Pennnsylvania sets aside 13.6 percent of its tobacco funds each year for formula grants to institutions that already receive NIH and NCI funds. The state has issued $46.8 million in grants under this program so far this fiscal year, in addition to another $18.3 million in competitive non-formula grants.

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