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Genomics Impact on U.S. Economy Approaches $1 Trillion

Letter-perfect investment? New report calculates that the U.S. government's investment in decoding genomes has provided a 65 to 1 payoff.

U.S. Department of Energy/Office of Biological and Environmental Research

Despite a slow economy, business in genomics has boomed and has directly and indirectly boosted the U.S. economy by $965 billion since 1988, according to a new study. In 2012 alone, genomics-related research and development, along with relevant industry activities, contributed $31 billion to the U.S. gross national product and helped support 152,000 jobs, the biomedical funding advocacy group United for Medical Research announced today in Washington, D.C.

The Impact of Genomics on the U.S. Economy is an update to an industry-conceived report from 2011 by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. At the time, Battelle calculated that the $3.8 billion U.S. federal investment in the Human Genome Project produced a return of $141 in economic output per dollar invested, a figure that President Barack Obama rounded off in his State of the Union address in February. Today's update factors in an additional $8.5 billion in relevant federal support and, based on the total U.S. investment, concludes a 65 to 1 return on the government's spending (adjusted to 2012 dollars).

Advocates for federal funding of biomedical research hope such rosy numbers will help persuade Congress to sustain support for the field.