The Carlsbad offices welcomed a very distinguised visitor on Thursday, April 11: NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. On the heels of this weekend's American Association of Cancer Researchers annual meeting (and the accompanying Rally For Medical Research, which drew thousands of people), Dr. Collins' visit served as a reminder that the work of the National Institutes of Health has a crucial impact on our customers and thus on our company.
Dr. Collins had a busy afternoon. After a brief welcome meeting with COO Mark Stevenson, Head of Medical Sciences Ronnie Andrews, and Head of Global Science and Innovation Alan Sachs, Dr. Collins was treated to a tour of the Ion Lab, where he got an up-close look at some of the R and D work being done right here in Carlsbad. After the tour, he met with a group of Life Technologies leaders to discuss the NIH's work and the impacts that the recent budget sequestration may have on the organization. Following that, Dr. Collins met with local reporters and spoke with them about the BRAIN Initiative. "My sense", he said, "is that with some 100 million people affected by brain diseases, the public is excited to see where this is going to go." Dr. Collins also talked about the current state of consumer use of DNA analysis in personalized medicine He feels that it's "a place to start", but is not necessarily a wholly accurate predictor of potential health problems. "If you're interested in genetic prediction, right now the best place to start is with your family history." From there, Mark Stevenson moderated a large roundtable event featuring many esteemed members of the local biotech and life sciences community.
The work done by the NIH goes far beyond United States borders; NIH-backed research impacts people around the globe, and the NIH has a long and proud history of working with scientists, researchers and doctors from all countries. And the NIH also impacts our economy. NIH researching funding directly supports hundreds of thousands of life science jobs - some 432,000 in 2011 alone. Research that helps to impove the health of Americans has a ripple effect: improving our quality of life helps us as individuals be more productive (at work and at home) over a longer span, while helping to keep our health care costs down. Indeed, the NIH website estimates that every $1 in NIH funding generates $2.21 in local economic growth. It was a thrill and an honor to have Dr. Collins here; as one of the nation's pre-eminent advocates for medical research, he shares our commitment to shaping discovery and improving life, and we're proud to support his and the NIH's efforts.