In case you missed it, the Wall Street Journal posted an interesting article online yesterday about the economic impact of sequencing the human genome. The article describes a recent study by the Battelle Memorial Institute that indicates the effort was a good investment:
The $3.8 billion spent by the U.S. government to map the human genome spurred the creation of tens of thousands of jobs and gave rise to an industry that-while slow to deliver medical breakthroughs-now generates about $67 billion in annual economic activity, according to a new study
That $3.8 billion, along with subsequent capital provided by the government and the private sector, generated a total return of roughly $49 billion in direct and indirect federal tax revenues over the last two decades or so. (The $3.8 billion is worth about $5.6 billion in constant 2010 dollars.)
Over the same period, those initial investments also helped to drive $796 billion in direct and indirect economic output and generate $244 billion in total personal income, according to Battelle's calculations.
The article notes that such reports are prized by science-based institutions and organizations as they scramble to compete for increasingly scarce federal funds. (At a Senate hearing yesterday, NIH director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, warned that fewer than one in five grant applications are likely to be successful this year - a new low.)