The same week Harvard unveiled its plans for a 250 acre Life Sciences campus, Scotland's University of Edinburgh announced a $115 million dollar Stem Cell Research Institute to be directed by Ian Wilmut. At universities across Europe, Asia, the US, and Canada, there's a race to be at the forefront of life sciences research.
Indeed, in the recent Chronicle of Higher Ed rankings of US universities, those schools with advanced medical and life sciences research dominated the top twenty. At public universities like UCSF, Berkeley, the other UC flagships, and the University of Wisconsin, their success is due in large measure to strong support from state government and voters. It's another reason why NY Gov. Spitzer, the SUNY system, and NY economic leaders are placing a major political bet on a multi-billion dollar stem cell funding bond for the fall.
Meanwhile, at many of the state universities that spend $100s of millions of dollars on athletics and where legislatures ban state funding for embryo and fetal research, they fail to scratch the Chronicle of Higher Ed's top 50 rankings. While the rest of the world moves forward with pioneering medical advances, the political and cultural climate in these states is likely to hurt the reputation of their flagship schools while shackling the state economy. They might be #1 in football, but they will be leaders in few other categories.