I’ve been up at the state capitol the last couple of days, and, no, I didn’t spot our celebrity governor. But you do wonder if you’re going to run into “Arnold”—everybody calls him that—in the elevator.
On day one I went to the Life Science Day in the Capitol. The California Health Institute, a biotech promotion organization, was lobbying the legislators on various issues related to biotech in the state. I went on a group appealing to the politicos not to cut the research or facilities budget of the UC campuses or to increase the fees for life science graduate students any more.
An interesting thing was to find that the American Heart Association had five people there. I had a talk with a guy who had been a lobbyist for the Heart Assn. in the past but who was at this event as a volunteer. I learned that Heart has always had a closer relationship to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry than the ACS has. They also have a greater focus on knowing locally what the latest research is. They see progress in heart disease closely tied to the products produced by industry. They also have tracked many to the devices and drugs on the market for heart disease back to Heart Assn. research grants. So they are comfortable having life science company scientists report their work at board meetings and with having companies pay some of their meeting and conference expenses. They do, however, keep a tight rein on who says what about the relationship in order to protect their reputation.