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PSBJ: Global health growing as local business

As noted here, and almost everywhere around Seattle these days, global health is regarded as an “emerging industry” and potential economic boon for the region.

Putting aside that global health (and development) is supposed to be primarily about helping poor people in poor countries, it can also be regarded as an industry of increasing importance locally. As such, Seattle’s growing global health sector was the focus of  the 39th annual Enterprise Seattle economic forecast conference on Thursday.

Clay Holtzman, at the Puget Sound Business Journal, covered the meeting and posted this report Investments Show Global Health’s Value. Clay writes:

So what is the local economic value of global health? Defining the exact value to Seattle isn’t easy, because a significant portion of the sector’s buying and hiring is overseas. One easy place to start is with the investments being made in global health, and that discussion begins with the Seattle-based Gates Foundation.

Martha Choe, chief administrative officer at the Seattle mega-philanthropy, was the keynote speaker at the half-day conference.

Martha Choe

Choe noted that the Gates Foundation has donated or committed some $2 billion so far to more than 40 local organizations working on global health issues such as PATH and the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (which keeps trying to get us to call it by its new brand Seattle Biomed).

Choe, who grew up in Seattle and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1972 (when the local economy was in the dumps), said the Gates Foundation takes a very targeted approach to global health:

We look for large-scale problems; problems that afflict millions of people; problems that have been ignored, forgotten or seem intractable; we work in areas where the foundation’s efforts and resources can be leveraged with partners and governments to make the most difference.

Read Clay’s entire report for a more complete description of Seattle as a global health industrial hub.

In other news along this line:

  • The Infectious Disease Research Institute today announced that it has received a “multi-million dollar” grant from the Gates Foundation to explore new strategies for treatment of tuberculosis. (Oddly, they announce this grant but then don’t reveal the actual total amount received in their release).
  • Xconomy’s Luke Timmerman reports that the Washington Global Health Alliance handed out two $150,000 grants to firms — one based in Richland and the other in Israel — working on global health technologies. The alliance administers these grants, which come from a fund created by the state Legislature to support regional initiatives for advancing global health (the Israeli company plans to open a Seattle branch)

About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.