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Education

New York medical schools struggle to compete for top biomedical researchers

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Without additional state funding, New York medical school officials say they won’t be able to attract or keep world class researchers. Albany lawmakers have rejected their $50 million request to fund recruitment and retention efforts. 

New York’s medical research institutions say they can’t compete with the funds out-of-state universities are using to lure the nation’s top research talent.

Dr. Stephen Dewhurst is vice dean for research at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry. He says he’s lost colleagues because of lack of funding for faculty development.

"They made a great recruitment offer to him; I couldn’t match it," Dewhurt says. "Another one, we were in the process of recruiting somebody from Georgia, and Georgia again came through with a whole bunch of money and they kept the guy. I couldn’t afford to bring him in to my department, and there was a huge loss."

Biomedical researchers are looking for institutions that will back them with support teams, state-of-the-art laboratory space and equipment.

One state that has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in university research programs is Texas. The Associated Medical Schools of New York says the lone star state poached 13 scientific and medical researchers from 2010 to 2014.

Chancellor of Texas A&M University System, John Sharp, says quality researchers are both highly ambitious and highly mobile.

"You’ve got meet their demands, and if you can’t, then they’re going to go to those places that can provide the resources that enable them to fulfill their research hopes and dreams," Sharp says. "Quite frankly, it takes resources. It takes money."

Dewhurst says people in his field need to make their case to legislators and show them what’s at stake.

"The HPV vaccine, that’s the cervical cancer vaccine, was developed here in Rochester. That’s the kind of thing that’s possible if you have world class scientists working in a world class institution in this town."