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Study: Genomics R&D Generates $796 Billion Return to U.S.

DNA fragment (Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

An analysis by Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio estimates that the Human Genome Project and associated activities generated an economic return of $796 billion between 1988 and 2010, from an investment of $3.8 billion ($5.6 billion in constant dollars). In addition, Battelle calculates genomics research and development directly and indirectly resulted in personal income exceeding $244 billion, and 3.8 million job-years of employment — one job-year is the equivalent of one person employed full time for one year.

In 2010 alone, Battelle estimates that genomics-related activity drove some $67 billion in economic output, adding $20 billion to Americans’ personal incomes, and supporting 310,000 jobs. In 2010, genomics activities returned $3.7 billion in federal tax revenues, plus another $2.3 billion in state and local taxes.

The Human Genome Project (HGP) refers to the federally funded program that ran from 1990 to 2003, which had preliminary funding in 1988-89. HGP determined the complete sequence of the 3 billion DNA base pairs in the human genome and identified each human gene. The project required development of advanced technology and organizing a team of biologists, physicists, chemists, computer scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.

Battelle calculated the economic impact of HGP itself, as well as follow-on federal R&D in genomics, and spending by industry on genomics, including a companion private project from Celera Genomics. The impacts included expenditures for labor, supplies, buildings, and technology, with additional multiplier and induced economic impacts from the recirculation of that spending over time.

The report notes that the impact of HGP so far is likely to be dwarfed by future advancements involving genomics. The study outlines the effects of HGP in health care, the project’s initial target, but the impact of genomics will continue to be felt in a wide range of activities including energy, biotechnology, agricultural biosciences, veterinary sciences, environmental science, forensic science, and homeland security.

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Update, 11 May 2011: text in first paragraph corrected.

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