Ven Narayanan, National Institutes of Health: I must congratulate you on your success story of building this partnership, particularly the type of research leading to products in the marketplace. Are there any restrictions on some of your payoff dollars returning back to support other new projects?
Lura Powell: You mean recoupment?
Ven Narayanan: Yes, so that you can fund more such projects. Any prohibitions with that?
Lura Powell: Actually what we look at as the payback mechanism is job creation and company growth and the economic benefits that go to others outside the ATP award recipients—what economists call the "spillover benefits." Basically there is a much bigger impact in the longer run as higher-quality jobs are created, industry sectors are strengthened by technology-induced productivity gains, and the tax base grows. But beyond the benefits that show up in standard economic measures of national income, there are benefits that come from improved quality of life—health and safety benefits, environmental benefits, and other advantages that come from a higher standard of living through innovation.
Ven Narayanan: I asked the question because you said that the dollar amounts are limited.
Lura Powell: I am not sure whether you can actually do recoupment on early-stage research. It doesn't seem to make sense for our type of projects. By the time the research moves forward to the point where there's a commercial product, there have been so many other funding sources involved that it would be almost impossible to figure out ATP' s piece of the technology to recoup against. It would be a bit of a morass and might cost more than you could get back.
Ven Narayanan: I wanted to share some information as well. The National Institutes of Health is a very discipline-oriented, grantee-oriented type of institution. We face this problem with partnering—talents across the universities and industries in different geographic locations.
We started the national cooperative drug discovery groups in natural products and we now have groups in chemistry and mechanism-based approaches where we partnered with individuals utilizing some of their specific talents to solve multidisciplinary problems. The government funds the project at a similar level. We have about $8 million to $10 million allocated to this area.
The program has been successful and has resulted in the development of at least three novel cancer drugs.