— To ensure this engine continues to renewably produce treatments and jobs, it needs stewardship. From public policy and workforce preparation to investment and world-class education, a great deal is needed to keep this vital San Diego sector sustained and primed to continue in the future.

Major Investments

This ecosystem attracts enormous public and private investment. Academic researchers around the state, who do much of the basic science work that leads to new therapies, received $3.8 billion in grants in 2017 from the National Institutes of Health. Investigators at UC San Diego, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and other San Diego research organizations received more than $800 million in NIH grants.

The graduate students who work in these labs go on to become the next generation of scientists, principal investigators and entrepreneurs. California, which has 11 of the top 100 universities in the world, produced more than 4,800 science and engineering Ph.D.s in 2015.

Private investors provided $6.6 billion in venture capital in 2017 to help small and midsized companies develop new therapies and diagnostics and take them through the regulatory process. San Diego companies received $668 million in venture capital. Few regions possess this kind of robust infrastructure to develop new treatments and help patients overcome their conditions.

Ensuring Access

Still, developing new medicines, devices and diagnostics is not enough. We need to make sure there are no disconnects between the innovators who develop these therapies and the patients who need them. Affordable and timely access to medicines and is every bit as important as the development process that makes them a reality.

We must not neglect the fundamentals that have built this ecosystem: an outstanding university system, robust public and private investment, an entrepreneurial spirit, sound public policy, and good old-fashioned hard work.

These elements have helped provide life-changing therapies for people around the world and economic growth and strength for the Golden State and San Diego. The CLSA, and our partners in industry, government and academia, must continue this legacy, ensuring that all patients have access to the care they need, and that this valuable ecosystem continues to thrive in San Diego

Sara Radcliffe is President & CEO of the California Life Sciences Association, a trade group representing the life science industry.