Stem Cell Research Could Be Job Boom For Biotech Students
San Francisco is chosen for the California stem cell research headquarters.
May 12, 2005 7:44 PM
San Francisco has been chosen as the headquarters for California’s $3 billion stem cell research program, and SF State's biology department is gearing up for new opportunities.
Dr. Michael Goldman, professor of biology, said that SF State may be able to get some of the institute’s approximately $300 million in research grants, and perhaps expand some of the university’s teaching programs.
“This has generated unprecedented excitement in the (SF State) biology community,” said Goldman. “It may encourage more students to be interested in biology and choose (biology) rather than other majors.”
San Francisco competed against 17 other California cities to be the home city for the stem cell research headquarters, officially called the Institute for Regenerative Medicine. San Francisco beat runner-up San Diego with16 of the institute’s 27 votes in the final decision on May 6.
The institute was established after Proposition 71 authorized the use of $3 billion in public funds for use in embryonic stem cell research. The proposition was approved by 59 percent of California voters last November. It will be the first institute of its kind in the United States. Stem cell research has long been a controversial field, as it requires the destruction of human embryos to collect the cells.
In order to win the bid, San Francisco offered an estimated $17 million worth of benefits, including 10 years of free rent in city office buildings, 2,600 free hotel rooms, free furniture, and free access to several conference centers, including the Moscone Convention Center.
The institute plans to build 17,000 square feet of office space in the Mission Bay area, near SBC Park, where it will appropriate the $300 million in grants to the scientific community.
Goldman said that the approximately 800 biotech companies in the Bay Area would likely engage in “fierce competition” for the institute’s grants, which will generate more research opportunities and jobs in the biotech field.
SF State graduate student in microbiology Dennis Bua said he hopes that the institute will encourage biology-related industry to move to San Francisco to be closer to the institute.
“I’m definitely pleased,” said Bua. “Stem cells are not necessarily my life’s work, but it will bring other companies that want to be around San Francisco, so when I’m done (with school) there will be jobs for me.”
The institute will bring revenue and new employment opportunities to the city, which SF State students may take advantage of, said District 6 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.
“It’s a big win on a number of fronts,” said Elsbernd. “Having more jobs will bring in more revenue, and that will increase city services.
Elsbernd said the additional revenue could be seen in areas such as better Muni service or fixing potholes, both issues which SF Students complained about in meetings with Elsbernd.
Although the Institute will hire just 50 people, it may bring increased hiring among the Bay Area’s approximately 800 biotech companies, and encourage other science-related industry to move to the area, said Elsbernd.
SF State student Tanya Gannon, 25, said she is also “thrilled” about San Francisco being the new home of California’s stem cell pioneering.
“It’s very exciting because of what the research could lead to,” said Gannon, who is working on her masters in microbiology. “It will develop amazing advances in the fields of disease and general science.”
Gannon also said that the stem cell research headquarters would bring new educational opportunities, because of the biotech conferences that will likely be held in San Francisco.
“We are in an outstanding area for the scientific community because of Stanford, UCSF, Berkeley, and now the stem cell institution,” said Gannon. “We won’t see results overnight, but with time it will definitely enlighten us.”
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