Legislature approves $35 million for science research

June 26, 2006

By hammersmith

The state Legislature has approved $35 million in funding for the 21st Century Fund, a public-private partnership to invest in medical, scientific, and engineering research programs in Arizona.

The financial support was scaled back from the original request for $50 million in the first year and $100 million over the subsequent four years—a package initially passed by the House of Representatives.

In the Senate, the measure was pared back to $15 million for one year, to be taken from job-training funds. It emerged from eleventh-hour budget negotiations at $35 million for one year, coming from the state’s general fund.

The funds will flow to Science Foundation Arizona, a nonprofit entity formed earlier this year by statewide business-leadership groups to advance the state’s research strengths in medicine, science, and engineering, with an emphasis on the biosciences. The group’s first president and CEO, Bill Harris, will take over his new post full time in coming weeks after completing his term as director general of Science Foundation Ireland.

The legislation required a match of private monies, which will be satisfied by a $50 million commitment, announced earlier this year, of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. The funds will be used to attract 10 world leaders in personalized medicine to Arizona.

Jerry Bisgrove, chairman and CEO of the Stardust Charitable Group, had pledged $100 million to provide the private match to the original legislation. Now some are questioning when or whether the money will come through. Bisgrove told the media that, without the $150 million commitment, “there’s nothing to match.” However, Bisgrove added he remains committed to finding the best collaboration among the state, private business and philanthropy, universities, and other interested parties.

The recently approved budget also included about $7 million for autism research to be done by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), funding for osteoporosis research, $4 million in new medical education money to train doctors, and $1 million for diabetes education.

For more information:

Budget on way,” Arizona Republic, 06/17/2006

Survey: Arizonans see value of science,” Arizona Republic, 06/18/2006

Joint deal on science funding collapses,” Arizona Daily Star, 06/22/2006