It’s become abundantly clear how serious the effort is to make this state one of the world’s premier centers for bioscience. In the span of a few days, plans to put up a total of $75 million to attract the biggest brains in bioscience to Arizona were announced by both the private Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and Gov. Janet Napolitano in her proposed 2006-07 budget.
The trust, set up from the estate of the late Scottsdale philanthropist Virginia G. Piper, gives an average of $26 million annually to mostly Arizona non-profit entities. It announced $50 million to establish the Piper Initiative in Personalized Medical Science and Technology to endow 10 Piper Chairs at Arizona universities, hospitals and research centers, filled by the biggest names possible in the biotech field. The goal: Research toward disease treatment and prevention specially designed for patients based on their individual genetic blueprints.
Meanwhile, Napolitano’s budget includes a call for $25 million for an initiative she has termed “Innovation Arizona.” As the governor mentioned earlier this month in her State of the State address, the funding would be part of a public-private partnership to bring “world-class researchers to Arizona” and “to support research into new products and technologies that can be commercialized and brought to market.”
Napolitano called it an emphasis on ”the cutting edge” in several technology-related industries that will help make the state a leader in the 21st-century economy.
These two efforts come at a pivotal time in Arizona’s history, as its economy continues to reinvent itself to be a productive home for new, innovative 21st-century industry. We are particularly impressed with the commitment from the Piper Trust, a mighty philanthropic entity devoted to this state’s future just as other, older such entities are devoted to the future of other areas of the country.
We all often easily forget how young a state Arizona actually is — it will celebrate a mere 94 years of statehood on Feb. 14 — and its real urbanization didn’t even begin in earnest until after the proliferation of air conditioning in its desert cities following World War II. Over much of the time since, many new residents of significant means changed their addresses but not the direction of their charitable giving. Stories are still told of transplants continuing to donate to Eastern or Midwestern charities instead of local ones even though they’d lived here 20 years.
The Piper Trust is an example of considerable wealth being devoted here, in this state, in this community, for the future of its residents. Its board is to be commended for its magnanimity and faith in the future of Arizona, which, along with the commitment from Napolitano, have become much brighter during recent days.