Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks Regarding The Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Saturday, July 16, 2005  •  Speech

Thank you, John (White). I am honored to be here with Congressman Brady, Dr. Bob McTeer, Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, Dr. Richard Finnell, Interim Director of the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, and the leader of one of the world’s foremost genetic research firms, Dr. Arthur Sands, president and CEO of Lexicon Genetics.

More than 40 years ago, a group of university researchers, industry leaders and government officials began working together on a revolutionary system of communication, a “galactic network” of computers linked by telephone lines that could connect people across vast distances. That visionary partnership eventually gave rise not only to the Internet, but to our modern economy, and countless technological innovations that have made life better for human beings around the globe. It is in the same pioneering spirit that we are here to announce a new public-private partnership that will help mankind take the next giant leap in scientific innovation, and make Texas an international focal point for medical research and job growth in the life science industry.

Today I am proud to announce that the state of Texas is committing $50 million from the Enterprise Fund to help Lexicon Genetics and Texas A&M University establish the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, a groundbreaking genetics research center that will bring 5,000 new jobs to Texas, attract millions of new dollars for medical research, and lead to the development of life-saving medical treatments and therapies. I want to thank Lexicon and A&M for developing the vision for this project, and for bringing a detailed investment proposal to the state.

This $50 million grant matches the largest amount ever awarded from the Enterprise Fund for a single project. And it is a wise investment for taxpayers because the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, or TIGM for short, will leverage the talents and resources of the public and private sectors to yield tremendous benefits for the entire state. Lexicon has developed a patented technique for identifying the functions of genes in mice, 99 percent of which have a counterpart in the human genome. Every year, Lexicon uses its gene knockout technology to discover the function of 1,000 unique genes, a rate three times faster than all other researchers in the world combined. By creating a “knockout mouse” with a specific gene turned off, scientists can learn the function of that gene and later, develop treatments for human diseases and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, birth defects and cancer. Lexicon will use $35 million of the Enterprise Fund grant to create two copies of its knockout mouse cell line library and provide them to TIGM. One will be housed here at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, and another at a new facility to be built in College Station. Texas A&M will use the remaining $15 million to build these new facilities, and will also manage the daily operations of the Institute.

Once it is up and running, TIGM will be home to the world’s largest library of knockout mouse cell lines that have been called the “gold standard” in genetic research, and scientists there will discover the function of genes at a rate unparalleled the world over. But to view this project as a purely intellectual endeavor, or as an item of interest only to the scientific community, would be to miss its practical and greatest significance. Not only will TIGM’s libraries and resources be available to researchers from universities across Texas, they will also be open to members of the private sector who will use the knowledge gained at the Institute to develop new treatments for those whose lives have been limited by chronic conditions, new medicines that can help our loved ones overcome debilitating diseases, and even new vaccines that can protect Americans from acts of bio-terrorism. TIGM’s ultimate goal is not to study mice, but to cure man. And based on early projections, breakthrough biotech discoveries are expected in three to five years.

TIGM will not only be a great source of hope and healing for the sick and injured, but a tremendous source of opportunity and jobs for Texas families. Over the next decade, TIGM will create 5,000 new high paying jobs in Texas with an average salary of $60,000. These jobs will provide a huge influx of new dollars into our entire economy as paychecks are cashed and spent, and will help put Texas at the forefront of a high-growth sector that will be the core of tomorrow’s economy. Existing biotech firms in Texas will expand to capitalize on discoveries that spring forth from TIGM labs. Out-of-state employers will have a strong incentive to relocate jobs to Texas in order to be near the world’s premiere genetic research facility. And one of TIGM’s top priorities will be to help start-up companies commercialize new developments, so they can get their business off the ground faster and create more jobs.

TIGM will also help Texas draw down millions more in federal and private research dollars. The National Institute of Health has identified this type of mouse genome research as one of the most promising for creating the next generation of medical treatments. With TIGM, Texas is now at the front of the line for public and private sector grants. By investing taxpayer dollars in high-tech research and development projects like TIGM, Texas stands to reap economic and scientific benefits far greater than the money spent up front. That’s why I worked with lawmakers to create a new Emerging Technology Fund, so that we can make a long-term commitment to growing our technology economy. Every new life-changing discovery that grows out of the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine represents the possibility for new jobs, a new employer or even an entirely new industry. More importantly, each discovery represents an opportunity to give future generations a world free from the diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries. History shows that when government, industry and academia join forces to solve great challenges, the possibilities for revolutionary developments are limitless.

Just like today’s children cannot imagine a world without the convenience of the Internet, our hope is that the children of tomorrow know only a world where every life is lived to its fullest, free from disease, and unlimited in possibility. With the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, we have taken a critical step towards that future. Thank you.

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