A report released today concludes that the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has an annual impact of $46 million on Oklahoma’s economy.
The new study, authored by a pair of the state’s leading economists, also concludes that OMRF is responsible for an estimated 1,061 jobs in Oklahoma—543 directly employed by OMRF and 518 others created as a result of the out-of-state grant revenues its researchers bring to Oklahoma.
“OMRF is not only one of the nation’s premiere biomedical research institutes, but it is also an important economic force in the state of Oklahoma,” said report co-author Robert Dauffenbach, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma’s Michael F. Price College of Business.
“OMRF is like a business producing a product,” said Dauffenbach. “The product is medical research, and that research generates a significant flow of revenues—grants—into Oklahoma from outside the state.”
Co-authored by Larkin Warner, Ph.D., a Regents professor emeritus of economics at Oklahoma State University, the economic impact study is based on a detailed analysis of OMRF’s annual payroll, grants and financial data.
According to the report, grant awards to OMRF create $31 million in annual payroll expenditures at the foundation. Each job at OMRF also creates, on average, almost one additional job in the state of Oklahoma, generating another $15 million in salaries for Oklahomans each year.
The report notes that with $27.7 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants and contracts in 2004, OMRF ranked 13th among the approximately 90 members of the Association of Independent Research Institutes. According to the report, OMRF’s NIH funding ranks it ahead of such well-known universities as Texas A&M, Arizona State, Iowa State and the University of Oregon.
“The longer-term impacts of OMRF on the status of biomedical research, on opportunities for technology transfer to locally based enterprises, and on Oklahoma’s reputation within the scientific and business communities is impressive,” write the report’s co-authors.
Dauffenbach underscored the significance of moving the state’s economy away from reliance on manufacturing jobs. “Economies of the future will increasingly
rely on knowledge industries and technology-based economic development,” he
said. “Research and development activities like those at OMRF are at the very heart of this type of development.” He cited OMRF’s record of creating spin-off, for-profit biotechnology companies as a key step in the state’s economic evolution.
The report estimates that OMRF’s operations generate $12.4 million each year in federal, state and local taxes. “In addition to the present significance of OMRF to the Oklahoma economy,” reports the study, “it is important to recognize that OMRF has and is likely to continue to expand its operations in future years.”
That growth, said OMRF President J. Donald Capra, M.D., is crucial to OMRF’s future success. “If OMRF can continue to build our critical mass of scientists, it will pay bigger and bigger economic dividends to the state. And even more importantly, adding research talent will help us achieve our core mission—finding new treatments for deadly diseases.”
Capra emphasized that even without growth, OMRF would have an impact of $460 million on the state’s economy over the next decade. “As an economic force, I cannot overstate the power of biomedical research,” said Capra.
Although Dauffenbach and Warner’s report quantified OMRF’s impact on the economy and job market in Oklahoma, it did not attempt to place a dollar figure on the larger value of OMRF’s work to society. “We have not measured and, indeed, cannot measure the impacts of OMRF research on the health of humankind,” the two economists write. “What, for example, are the economic and general-population wellness impacts of OMRF’s research on Alzheimer’s?”
The full report is available at www.OMRF.org/impactreport.
Celebrating its 60th birthday in 2006, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and curing human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. It is home to Oklahoma’s only member of the National Academy of Sciences.