MCR’s promising new push into research realm

The Medical Center of the Rockies is embarking on what could be a very promising expedition:

It is hoping to transform itself into a world-class research center, developing drugs, therapies and devices in a variety of areas including neurology and obesity.

Medical advances that can help improve our well-being and cut the costs of illness to society are, of course, welcome.

With federal funding in short supply, MCR’s grant-application writers won’t have it easy. But public support of research has long yielded a solid return on investment and we hope MCR can get its fair share.

The Association of American Medical Colleges in November put out a report acknowledging that the full economic benefits of research are difficult to quantify, and not always well understood.

It commissioned Tripp Umbach, an economic consulting firm, to examine the economic impact of federal- and state-funded research conducted by medical schools and teaching hospitals that are members of the association.

According to the report, every $1 invested in research at medical schools and teaching hospitals results in $2.60 of economic activity.

That means job-creation inside as well as outside of the hospital and its research lab. The report says that the funding for research received by its members directly supports nearly 300,000 full-time, mostly high-skilled, jobs, or about 1 in every 500 jobs in the United States.

But, wait, there’s more:
“As dramatic as the numbers are, they are a fraction of the full economic impact of research,” the AAMC said in its report. “The drop in overall mortality rates from cancer over the last 20 years has saved more than three-quarters of a million lives. Similar gains are being made in heart disease, HIV, and many other devastating diseases. All in all, millions of Americans have been able to live their lives and continue to provide for their families and contribute to the nation’s economy and growth as a result of medical research.”

MCR is getting help raising dollars for research from the MCR Foundation, which solicits donors on the hospital’s behalf. Since 2007, the foundation has raised just over $6 million to help fund research and education at the hospital.

Many more millions will be needed for MCR to achieve its ambitions. Its success could mean good things for health care. Not to hyperventilate, but an MCR with a national or even global reputation would also help put Fort Collins on the map as a medical research center. We wish it well in its pursuits.

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