Pawlenty continues support of Mayo and U’s partnership

The joint effort strives to increase the biomedical research efforts of the state.

Hayley Odom

During his tour of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Thursday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he will continue to support the biotechnology and medical genomics partnership between the University and Mayo Clinic.

Although he did not pledge a specific dollar amount, Pawlenty intends to make the first installment of general funds to the partnership in the 2005 session, said Brian McClung, the governor’s press secretary.

“This has been and continues to be an important priority to Gov. Pawlenty, and he’s showing his ongoing support,” McClung said.

The partnership aims to increase the biomedical research efforts of the state.

In the last legislative session, the partnership requested $70 million for operating costs, which included research funding. The money would have been dispersed over a five-year period.

It also requested $20 million in state bonds last year. It would have been used to build three floors in Mayo’s Stabile Building to centralize the genomics labs.

But neither request was granted becuase of a delay in the Legislature.

“We are hoping (Pawlenty) reaffirms funding in a manner that makes it possible to go ahead,” said Mark Paller, professor and assistant vice president of research in the Department of Medicine. “We’re grateful for his support, but we hope his support will be exactly what we’ve been planning all along.”

If the partnership does not receive adequate funding this year, it will be difficult to accomplish its original goals, he said.

When the University announced the partnership in the spring of 2003, University scientists and Mayo Clinic researchers submitted 34 project proposals. Eight of those proposals are currently in progress.

They are running on an initial $4 million in funding from the state and the partnership, Paller said.

Despite the lack of financial help from the state in the past session, the partnership will continue to do well, Paller said. But in order to continue the partnership, it will need to receive funding in the next legislative session.

Mayo Clinic spokesman Bob Nellis said Pawlenty reaffirmed his original commitment to the project.

“We were underscoring the importance and need (for the partnership), and he was doing the same thing,” he said.

“This is a priority for the state of Minnesota, and we need to do it.”