Monday, April 10, 2006
Two years ago, Howard Teeter moved back to Wisconsin from Toronto to start Anteco Pharma in Lodi because of the Badger State's strength in biotechnology research and because he believed Wisconsin was a good place to do business.
So Teeter was delighted to hear Gov. Jim Doyle forcefully defend stem cell research in Wisconsin when he spoke at the Wisconsin pavilion Monday at BIO 2006 in Chicago.
He also said he was impressed that at least four members of Doyle's cabinet came to the convention and that top UW-Madison stem cell researchers Jamie Thomson and Gabriel Cezar accompanied Doyle.
"Looks to me like Wisconsin is pulling out the stops," said Teeter, whose company focuses in part on contract drug manufacturer.
"It's good to see powerful people backing your industry," Teeter said. "We need the support to grow and I think good things are happening, especially at UW-Madison, but elsewhere around the state, too."
Doyle praised the recent donations of $50 million by the Morgridge family and another $50 million from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to pay for two-thirds of the first phase of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery. (The other $50 million will come from the state.)
"We have a lot of great research to build on," he told a crowd gathered at the pavilion. "And we will use it to enhance a segment of our economy that will improve and save lives.
"It doesn't get much better than that," he said.
Later, speaking to a Quarles & Brady law firm-sponsored reception in the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building, Doyle had even stronger words about stem cell research.
"When I tell leaders in the biotechnology world that I had to veto legislation to keep stem cell research going in Wisconsin, they can't believe anyone would want to do away with what we have accomplished," he said.
"But I refuse to let politics trump science," he said. "Especially when it holds so much potential to so much good."
Doyle also said he believes more financial support is flowing to Wisconsin companies and that those dollars will lead to more high-paying jobs in the state.
Thomson, who first isolated human embryonic stem cells, said he hoped that Wisconsin would never end support for his studies.
And he predicted that the federal government will eventually lift its prohibition on funding of certain stem cell lines.
With the sun sinking below the western Chicago skyline, he also put the kibosh on any possible moves away from Wisconsin – at least in the near future.
"At the end of the day, it's a lot better to beat Harvard than to join them," he said to cheers from the Hancock building crowd.
Cezar, a native of Brazil, also praised the accomplishments of Wisconsin scientists and said that was what drew her away from a career with the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. A veterinarian by training, she earned her PhD at UW-Madison before going to work in private industry.
"I'm convinced I made the right decision," said Cezar. "UW-Madison is a world leader in stem cell research. It has the strongest stem cell IP (intellectual property) portfolio in the world and it's my goal to help translate that research into business and jobs in Wisconsin.
"I'm honored to be part of this and want to do all I can to help it go forward," she said.