DHMC hosts forum on drug trials, lab research

by Jenn Buck | 3/8/04 6:00am

Policymakers and leaders in the pharmaceutical industry came to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Friday for a panel discussion that highlighted the link between laboratory drug research and patient trials.

National Institutes for Health Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, joined Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., and six other panel members for a discussion moderated by Susan Dentzer, health correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Norris Cotton Cancer Center hosted the event, and several researchers from the nationally-renowned treatment facility joined the panel.

Gregg, who chairs the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, made opening remarks supporting biomedical research to the packed auditorium.

"I don't happen to see my role as a policy person to tell these folks, who are so exceptional, and the organizations they run, how they should spend the money. I see my role as getting them the dollars they need in order to aggressively pursue research," said Gregg.

Gregg's remarks came on the heels of a survey released Mar. 4 that indicated state residents' strong support for continued government commitment to medical and health research.

The survey was published by Research!America, one of the panel discussion's co-sponsors, and indicated that 70 percent of respondents support a "higher national commitment to health-related research."

Zerhouni advocated partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and academic research facilities, as did panelist Peter Corr, a Pfizer senior vice president.

The survey found that 84 percent of residents "strongly support government, universities and private industry working together to develop new treatments and cures."

Dentzer, Chair of the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees, told The Dartmouth she felt the event was "an unqualified success."

"The sky is the limit," Dentzer said. "Federal support is going to be key for us, and in that regard we think our relationship with Sen. Gregg is extremely important."

Dentzer also said Dartmouth-Hitchcock is "perfectly positioned" to create the kind of interdisciplinary teams that Zerhouni mentioned in his remarks, using federal funding for general scientific research and translating that into direct benefits for patients.

As a research and teaching hospital and an academic institution, Dartmouth has been awarded 233 NIH grants totalling $86 million, according to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Public Affairs.