New Initiatives in Wisconsin and Ohio Feature Specialized Life Science Pushes

October 22, 2008

For several years governors across the country have announced life science and biotech initiatives that are as broad as they are large. The devil is in the details, and in most cases related to bio-based economic development, so are the opportunities. Participants in SSTI's 12th annual conference last week were reminded targeted investments in specialized areas related to merging existing life science and other technological strengths in a region are likely to have the greatest economic impact.

Over the past few weeks, two new initiatives were announced - one in Northeast Ohio and one in Wisconsin - highlighting more focused approaches to building research and commercialization capabilities within multiple industries through advances in the life sciences.

The partners forming the BioInnovation Institute at Akron have committed in aggregate more than $80 million to create various research, education, and commercialization projects based upon the intersections of materials science and biotechnology. These projects will include the Orthopedic Research Institute of Northeastern Ohio, the Center for Biomaterials and Medicine at the University of Akron, a medical device concept laboratory, and centers for health care training and clinical trials.

The BioInnovation Institute at Akron was pushed forward by a collection of organizations, including private companies, educational institutions, and local hospitals. The main contributions include:

  • $20 million from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation;
  • $20 million from the state of Ohio, especially through its Third Frontier grants;
  • $10 million from the utility provider, FirstEnergy Corp.; and,
  • $4 million each from Akron Children's Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy (NEOUCOM), Summa Health System, and the University of Akron.

The Wisconsin Genomic Initiative (WGI) is the first project originating from Governor Jim Doyle's proposed Wisconsin Medial Research Triangle, a collaboration of four in-state health care institutions - the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the Marshfield Clinic. The collaboration includes the largest population-based genetic research project in the U.S., collecting the DNA and medical records of 20,000 individuals.

WGI's focus will be to improve personalized health care research, examining genetic factors for a patient's risk of developing specific diseases, and subsequently creating personalized treatment for the illness. The first phase of the Initiative includes a focus on diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, as well as identifying one million relevant genetic markers for these targeted health problems.

Additional information about the BioInnovation Institute at Akron can be found at:

A press release by Gov. Doyle's Office on the Wisconsin Genomics Initiative can be found at:

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