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Gov. Gregoire signs bill creating Life Sciences Discovery Fund

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2005

OLYMPIA – May 12, 2005 – Gov. Christine Gregoire today signed a bill creating the Life Sciences Discovery Fund that will give grants for research in health and agriculture.

Creation of Life Sciences Discovery Fund is part of the governor’s economic development strategy. The fund is intended to create new jobs and put Washington at the heart of leading-edge research to cure debilitating diseases and improve the quality and yield of agricultural crops.

The fund is based on the $350 million in bonus funds that Washington will receive through the tobacco settlement agreement -- $35 million a year for 10 years, beginning in 2008. Combined with matching funds for the grants and with non-state funds, the Life Sciences Discovery Fund could have a $1 billion impact on health and agricultural research in Washington.

“Life Sciences is about vision,” said Gregoire before signing Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5581 in a ceremony at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. “It’s about a vision for future health-care delivery and agriculture, for new industries and employers that we can’t imagine today, and about new wisdom for our students and researchers.”

Life Sciences refers to such fields as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life system technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, food processing, environmental, and biomedical devices.

“Creation of the Life Sciences Discovery Fund sends a huge signal to the country and to the world that Washington state’s future just got better,” Gregoire said. “Our state is serious about maintaining and strengthening our competitive advantage in these vital sectors.”

The governor said Washington is home to many companies, foundations, researchers and visionaries in the world of life sciences. She noted that Fred Hutchinson and the University of Washington are home to a number of Nobel Prize winners, that the Seattle Biomedical Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have leaders in global health strategies, and that other key scientists come from Washington State University, the Institute for Systems Biology and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“We are home to companies, schools and individuals who will define the future of health care and agriculture,” she said.

ESSSB 5581 establishes an 11-member board of trustees to review grant applications, which will be evaluated on such criteria as potential health-care impact, future employment impact and geographic diversity. The governor will appoint seven trustees and four will be legislators.

Gregoire said the legislation she signed today answers some important questions:
· Is Washington state going to lead the next generation of health and agricultural research?
· Is Washington state going to rise up from 49th in the country for public investment in scientific research?
· Is Washington state going to promote a predictive and preventive vision of health care, to reduce cost, create jobs, and expand opportunities for students in our research universities?

“By creating the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, we are answering a resounding ‘yes’ to some of the most important questions we can ask about the future of our state,” she said. “We are saying our future just got better.”