TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, today continued his pledge to advance New Jersey’s stem cell research agenda by introducing legislation allocating $150 million in unused bond capacity for construction of a world-class stem cell research facility.
“Every moment we delay funding New Jersey’s Stem Cell Institute will cost us, both in lives lost and economic potential unrealized. New research shows stem cells may be the key to fighting cancer. In New Jersey, alone, think about how many lives could be saved by these therapies, and how much suffering could be eased,” said Sen. Codey. “This new facility will provide patients throughout our state with easy access to the most cutting-edge treatments and best possible care. I look forward to working with Governor Corzine, Speaker Roberts and stem cell supporters like Assemblyman Neil Cohen, to move this initiative forward.”
Governor Jon S. Corzine, a staunch advocate for stem cell research, echoed Sen. Codey’s sentiment and backed today’s legislation, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex.
“I applaud Senate President Codey, a long-time leader on stem cell research, for introducing critical stem cell legislation today,” said Governor Corzine. “We have the opportunity, and indeed the responsibility, to put New Jersey at the leading edge of the most promising life-enhancing and life-saving medical advances of our generation. I look forward to working with the Legislature to move this bill quickly so that we can see the promise of embryonic stem cell research become a reality.”
The facility would be located in New Brunswick – the heart of New Jersey’s world-renowned life sciences industry – and would be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to support cutting-edge research. The building would include clinical facilities, enabling scientists to translate basic research into real-life therapies. Researchers would be able to move easily between laboratory research and treating their patients in the hospital. The institute would also benefit New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and biotech industry, which would ultimately bring these new therapies to the market.
“We are at a point where growing competition, both nationally and internationally, threatens our place at the forefront of stem cell research,” added Sen. Codey. “With Rutgers reporting that New Jersey is bleeding bio-tech jobs, and neighboring states advancing their own initiatives, we can’t afford to waste another minute.”
New Jersey’s stem cell efforts and bio-tech industry are threatened by growing competition from places like Harvard University, which recently unveiled plans for a state-of-the-art stem cell laboratory, as well as the state of Pennsylvania where a proposal to invest $1 billion in the state’s bio-tech industry was recently announced. The state also faces increased competition from abroad where countries like China, Japan, South Korea, England and Australia have recently made headlines for stem cell advances.
“Not only does the promise of stem cell research bring hope to millions of people dealing with incurable chronic diseases, but it can also serve as an economic catalyst that will keep the New Jersey life sciences industry on top,” said Sen. Buono. “We are at a crossroads and must decide whether we will lead the way or follow far behind.”
Under the legislation, funding to construct the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey would not impact the state’s operating budget, but would instead come from existing unused bond capacity resulting from cigarette tax revenues. Bonds, backed by the cigarette tax, would be issued by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The EDA would oversee the building’s construction. The legislation also allocates $50 million in unused bond capacity to the EDA to finance additional capital investments in biomedical and life science research.
Sen. Codey originally proposed the investment in his 2005 State of the State Address as Governor. His previous bill, introduced last June, passed the full Senate, but failed to gain approval in the Assembly before the end of the legislative session.