The American Cancer Society estimates more than four-thousand South Dakotans will receive a cancer diagnosis this year. But that’s not the only number advocates bring to elected officials to make the case for research funding.
During its annual South Dakota Policy Luncheon, the state American Cancer Society chapter highlighted the economic impact of cancer research.
In the last fiscal year, the National Institute of Health invested nearly $24 million in South Dakota. That resulted in $71 million of new economic activity, and more than 500 jobs.
David Benson is the South Dakota government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. He says those numbers are also part of the conversation when he engages with elected representatives.
“Certainly we wanna talk about the innovation and discovery to get us on a path to find a cure for cancer, but also there’s certainly that economic impact with that investment to South Dakota.”
Federal funding for cancer research and treatment isn’t limited to NIH. Benson also points to funding from the Centers for Disease Control.
“We want to ensure that CDC is funded at a level so we can continue to see funds come back to South Dakota to fund cancer registries. We’ve lost federal funding for colorectal cancer in the state. Fortunately, we do have funding for breast and cervical [cancer]. So we want to keep those in place, and that’s why we work with advocates across the state to reach out to not only local and state legislators, but our federal delegation.”
At the state level, the biotech industry is continuing to see economic growth and make strides in medical research. South Dakota Biotech executive director and keynote speaker Joni Johnson explains many major pharmaceutical companies outsource some of their early stage cancer research.
“That’s kinda where some of our companies come into play is partnering with those larger pharma companies that can, they can start the projects and start the technology for the development of what they’re looking to cure, then they can acquire them and take that technology further. So that’s kind of the pathway—mostly—of biopharmaceutical research.”
Johnson says South Dakota is gaining a national reputation in terms of research, and residents should be proud of developments in healthcare in the state.
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