Why China’s Medical Discovery Initiative Is Worth Watching

In recent weeks, much of the world has been wondering whether we’re on the verge of another economic slowdown, this time with China driving the headlines.

As someone who knows the world’s second largest economy well, it’s fair to say that the level of concern is justified. However, I have no doubt that China will double down on key initiatives to stem turbulence in its markets and maintain a longstanding focus on achieving growth (albeit at a less rapid pace than before).

During any slowdown period, any nation’s natural instinct is to look to industries and sectors that have been the pillars of growth in the past: defense, high-tech and energy, to name a few. In China’s case, policymakers and business leaders recognize a unique opportunity in the life sciences to claim the world’s top spot in research and development. The U.S. stands to lose out if we do not take steps to match the Chinese efforts.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, China spent close to $1.2 billion promoting life and medical sciences in 2012 – nearly ten times its 2004 level of investment. A report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation found that China will have invested almost $309 billion in biotechnology between 2011 and 2016. China is in a position to gain a global leadership position in research and development (R&D) in the next 10 years.

For decades, the U.S. has been the leader in medical discovery and breakthroughs that change lives because of unprecedented investment in R&D. With moves by China and others to discover the next round of breakthrough treatments, the U.S. is at risk of falling behind in a field that has set us apart for decades. An increase in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding alone —> Read More