Joan Hartley

State Senator

Joan Hartley

Chief Deputy President Pro Tempore

An Independent Voice

February 3, 2017

Hartley and Bioscience Leaders Lay Out the Future of the Industry in Connecticut

Hartley brings together bioscience stakeholders to build the precision medicine and personalized health cluster in Connecticut

Connecticut’s foremost health and bioscience experts joined Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury) today to outline how Connecticut can establish itself as a worldwide leader in bioscience and precision medicine. The Connecticut Health Data Collaborative (CHDC) working group, which Sen. Hartley serves on alongside Connecticut’s bioscience stakeholders, spoke about the future of bioscience in Connecticut. The CHDC released a report outlining their current cooperative efforts and plans to expand, creating new jobs in Connecticut, as well as lay out what Connecticut can do to cement itself as a hub for bioscience research and development.

“Connecticut already has the assets needed to become a global leader in bioscience and precision medicine, but we need to continue encouraging the kind of cooperation between stakeholders and the state that we’ve seen in the CHDC,” said Senator Hartley. “Precision medicine is already expanding rapidly in our state, and by embracing the recommendations of the CHDC we can further turn our schools and bioscience institutions into real economic engines that will create good-paying jobs for generations to come. The cutting edge work being done by these organizations is truly exciting and should be encouraged.”

A 2015 economic competitiveness diagnostic of Connecticut found that the state has great assets and economic drivers in research and development, bioscience and health date. In response to those findings, Senator Hartley and her colleagues on the legislature’s Commerce Committee passed legislation establishing the CHDC and tasking it with creating stronger partnerships and networks amongst the major stakeholders in Connecticut’s bioscience, healthcare and education fields. The CHDC worked to determine ways in which stakeholders can and should collaborate in order to further mutual goals and drive the industry forward.

Today, the CHDC released a status report identifying the four major areas of collaboration that members believe Connecticut should adopt. If these four “guiding pillars” are embraced, Connecticut would become be one of the first in the nation to adopt a statewide initiative which would leverage the state’s world class academic and research institutions, the insurance industry, and an emerging tech industry.

The CHDC identified its top pillar as being increased support for research and development for precision medicine and personalized health. This includes the creation of “The Connecticut Center for Genomic Medicine,” which will be home to a Connecticut Biobank, adopting and recommending standards and protocols for acquiring, transferring and managing health data across the state. Additionally, this will include partnering with Connecticut Innovations (CI) to secure funds to be used in support of bioscience ventures.

Additionally, the CHDC called for Connecticut to embrace economic growth initiatives to identify and support Connecticut organizations and companies working in bioscience, biopharma, biotech, genomics, clinomics, epigenomics, pharmacogenomics as well as the microbiome field and other related fields as its second pillar. Once identified, these organizations and companies can be enabled to share data, collaborate on projects, and build partnerships with Connecticut’s universities and colleges to expand the school to work pipeline for health informatics, health analytics, and genomic counseling programs. Additionally, the CHDC recommends encouraging entrepreneurial enterprises and holding competitions that attract experts to Connecticut and build a critical mass of talent.

Its third pillar called for the establishment of cost-efficient methods to ensure the security of health data. The success of a bioscience and personalized medicine network relies on extensive health data being kept electronically. This is only possible if that data is kept secure and ensures the privacy patients above all else.

The fourth and final pillar is to promote efficient and innovative platforms for collecting health data. This information is necessary in order to understand the interplay between genetic, behavioral and environmental factors in the incidence of disease or illness. By studying large amounts of health information, these organizations can develop new methods for preventing or curing life-threatening diseases.

Building a critical mass of bioscience and precisions medicine organizations around Connecticut will have strong and positive reverberations across the state, creating jobs and growing the state economy. Establishing the state as a hub for bioscience research and development will attract experts from around the world and retain the current and developing experts the state already has. This industry is continuing to expand and create, demanding that Connecticut’s educational institutions continue to fill the talent pipeline with entry-level to high skill level applicants.