County to explore biotechnology partnerships

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, in a joint motion with Mark Ridley-Thomas, on Tuesday directed the county's CEO to conduct a feasibility assessment for developing a countywide public/private biotechnology partnership program.Through the motion, the county will identify potential biotechnology initiatives that would bring together public and private resources and expertise at each of the five county-owned hospital campuses - including Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey - similar to the L.A. BioMed program at the county's Harbor-UCLA facility. The board directed the CEO to identify opportunities, partners and resources, and to develop a schedule for implementation of partnership programs. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is the home of L.A. BioMed, one of the country's leading nonprofit independent biomedical research institutes. Through its affiliation with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, it has more than 150 researchers conducting studies into improved treatments and cures for cancer, inherited diseases, infectious diseases, illnesses caused by environmental factors, and more. It also educates young scientists and provides community services, including immunization and childhood nutrition programs. "We've had tremendous success with the L.A. BioMed program at Harbor-UCLA and we want to see if we can replicate that at our other county facilities," said Knabe. "For several decades, L.A. BioMed has been an example of the power of the public and private sectors working together to both solve issues and spur the economy. Even during recessionary times, the biomedical industry enjoys steady and rapid growth. "As the country looks at reforming healthcare, now is the right time for Los Angeles County to take the lead in public/private biomedical partnerships," Knabe continued. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists biomedical engineering as one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. for the decade ending in 2018, estimating growth of 72 percent between 2008 and 2018.

********** Published: February 17, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 44