Arizona Town Hall tackles bioscience agenda

October 14, 2005

By hammersmith

This weekend 150 citizens from around the state will gather at the Grand Canyon to discuss how to advance Arizona’s bioscience agenda.

Beginning on Oct. 30, the 87th Arizona Town Hall will consider how to “maximize Arizona’s opportunities in the biosciences and biotechnology.”

Created in 1962, Arizona Town Hall is a private nonprofit civic organization that brings people together twice a year to consider and discuss a topic of major concern to Arizona’s future.

While most town halls focus on problems in the state, this fall’s forum is unique as it will look at how to promote an agenda that aims to build Arizona’s economy.

Town hall topics are chosen more than a year in advance by the Arizona Town Hall board of directors. Shirley Agnos said the directors chose biosciences as a topic because they “saw this as a chance for more people in the state to learn about a subject people read about everyday in the paper but know little about.”

For each Town Hall one of the state’s three universities develops a comprehensive research document on the subject under discussion. Kathy Matt, director of clinical partnerships at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, was the lead researcher for this fall’s town hall.

Those who will attend the Town Hall represent a cross section of Arizona citizens. About one-third of the group is familiar with the biosciences, and two-thirds come from fields unfamiliar with it, Agnos said.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the Town Hall to step up and try to be as much help in ensuring that this subject grows as much as possible,” Agnos said. “We need to be always looking at areas that can boost our economy. And certainly, this is one of the most exciting areas that has come along in the past few years as far as adding to our economic development.”