Remarks to HealthCare Institute of New Jersey

September 19, 2012

Good morning and welcome to Rutgers.  We’re delighted to host the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, and to support this critical industry, which brings a $25 billion economic impact to New Jersey.  I’m Bob Barchi, president of Rutgers, and in the interest of full disclosure, I am also by training a research neuroscientist and neurologist, and for the past 14 years have been a member of the Board of Directors of Covance, a world-wide CRO headquartered near Princeton, so I know many of you professionally and as a Covance business partners. Along with that background comes a passing knowledge of, and tremendous respect for, the pharma industry that you serve.

Putting my president’s hat back on, though, I want Rutgers to be not just your host, but your new best friend.  Rutgers wants to be your partner in building your businesses and in growing the New Jersey economy.  We want to lower the energy barriers that limit collaboration between industry and academia, and focus on building public/private partnerships that benefit both parties while also driving the regional economy.

Let me fill in a little context. On one hand, higher education in this country is at a critical juncture. The old financial model of the large research university that carried us through the past fifty years no longer works today. Great land-grant universities like Rutgers must transition from institutions supported almost entirely by state funding to new public/private hybrids that resemble in their diverse revenue streams the country’s major heavily endowed private institutions. For us that means more industry partnerships, more research, more technology transfer and more philanthropy to complement our already superb educational programs.

At the same time, of course, the entire underpinnings of drug discovery and development in your industry have seen cataclysmic change in the past ten years, with the specter of impending patent cliffs, dry innovation pipelines, huge but nonproductive R&D budgets, and impatient shareholders focused on EPS hanging over big pharma, and a shortage of venture funding and innovation capital holding back the smaller biotech firms. Outsourcing, in-licensing and asset transfers have become the new vocabulary.

That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news. Right here in central New Jersey, we are within minutes of most of the world’s large pharmaceutical companies, and a host of smaller biotech firms, while literally sitting in one of the largest and most vibrant centers of higher education in the nation. This is an extraordinarily attractive landscape for interaction between pharma and academia. We recognize this at Rutgers, and for us, the life sciences, and the public/private partnerships that we seek to create, will be a major focus of our new strategic plan.

Rutgers intends to be a national leader in health science partnerships. But we can’t do it alone.  That leadership depends on our working with your industry to take full advantage of our capabilities. So what are those capabilities and how can they benefit your business?

As I am sure you know, one consequence of the higher education restructuring legislation signed by Governor Christie last month is an expanded Division of Biomedical Sciences at Rutgers that will combine the tremendous life sciences strengths already present in our university with the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Robert Wood Johnson medical school here in New Brunswick, and the New Jersey medical school, dental school and related health science programs in Newark that are currently part of UMDNJ. These faculty and their research and clinical programs will add to our own School of Pharmacy, College of Nursing, and Division of Life Sciences, and will share access to Rutgers’ unique life sciences resources that include the National Cell & DNA Repository, the National Protein Structure Data Bank, and our premier proteomics and informatics center supported by its super-computing facility formed in conjunction with IBM.

Putting all of this together under one roof – from basic research at the bench to clinical care at the bedside – creates a New Jersey powerhouse in the life sciences research. Simple addition of our current research programs pushes the new Rutgers well above $600 million in externally funded research annually, placing us among the top twenty universities in the nation. Add to that the clinical faculty of two large medical schools and their affiliated hospitals, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, and our national bio-repositories, and the opportunities for translational research and clinical trials at Rutgers increase exponentially. We can handle the R&D and clinical trials you need to find new health care solutions, and we are putting in place the single-stop IRBs, central contracting, and clinical trials management systems that you need to do them efficiently.  And through your collaboration and partnerships, you can help us realize the enormous potential of this great institution as Rutgers moves toward celebrating its 250th birthday in 2016.

It can be a real win-win play.

I look forward to working with you all in the coming months, and to maximizing the opportunities for Rutgers, for your industry, and for New Jersey.

Should be a fun ride! In the meantime, enjoy our campus and have a great day.