Crain’s Health Pulse: Medical schools ask Cuomo for life sci funding

New York state medical schools want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to set aside $50 million of his $650 million life sciences initiative to allow them to invest in lab construction, high-cost equipment and the recruitment and retention of star researchers. The 16 medical schools promise to put up $100 million of their own money if Cuomo agrees to their plan. Several medical school deans, including Columbia University’s Dr. Lee Goldman and SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s Dr. Carlos Pato, will meet with lawmakers and Cuomo administration leaders Tuesday to make their case, said Jo Wiederhorn, president and chief executive of the Associated Medical School of New York. The deans plan to meet with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco among other legislators. They also plan to meet with Paul Francis, Cuomo’s top health care aide, and state Budget Director Robert Mujica. Wiederhorn said the state would not pay the salaries of star researchers but would finance the labs, equipment and support staff that are vital to attracting top talent.

“We want to attract and keep entrepreneurial scientists here in New York,” she said. Cuomo’s initial announcement promised funding and tax incentives for life sciences companies and state capital grants for lab construction, but made just one mention of the role medical schools would play. It described a recruitment program to “attract top-flight life sciences researchers” but no funding was specified for that part of the initiative. “Now we’re trying to get that money,” Wiederhorn said. ‹J.L.