Professor MU: Investment in tax dollars is essential for medical innovation as investors pull back | Missouri

(The Center Square) — Medical breakthroughs could stagnate without new strategies to fund research, according to a University of Missouri professor.

Felipe BG Silva, an assistant professor who teaches the accounting and business strategy capstone course at the state’s flagship campus, said government and private investment in the biotech sector has grown rapidly as vaccines COVID-19 have been developed over the past two years. However, Standard & Poor’s Biotechnology Select Industry Index fell 42% from a peak last April to last month.

Silva noted the rise and fall of technology and the Internet in the 1990s. But the decline of the biotech industry is hard to explain. He said declining investment in biotechnology is a possible predictor of less innovation in medicine in coming years.

“Prices have risen, understandably, in 2020 in anticipation of a successful vaccine being developed,” Silva said. “After 2021, we saw the biotech sector perform below other sectors and it was confusing. Markets sometimes get it wrong and operate inefficiently. prices reflect the outlook for an industry. And biotechnology is the opposite.”

Silva was one of five authors attempting to explain the complex situation in the article, “The rapid rise and fall of biotech stocks is having a negative impact on society” in the California Management Review. One of the possible outcomes of the decline is less medical innovation from startups in the development of new drugs to fight various diseases.

“It’s really hard to sort out and tell what’s causing this,” Silva said. “But what we can say with certainty is that it will have negative effects.”

Silva compared the current state of biotechnology to aeronautics in the last century. He said the 66-year period between man’s first flight (1903) and the moon landing (1969) showed the rapid acceleration of technological development.

“When we get more insight into how things work and the technology evolves, there’s more collaboration,” Silva said. “The same thing happened with the internet. Imagine how our lives would be right now if we were back 34 years ago when the internet was only used by the military.”

Silva said the government should continue to fund research, even if it doesn’t promise immediate, rewarding results.

“When certain things are risky, I think the government needs to step in and provide incentives for those who take risks, some kind of cushion,” Silva said. “If you want someone to engage in groundbreaking research, there has to be some kind of support. If the research doesn’t work out, they still need funding and employment. They need the freedom to take risks without worrying about negative outcomes, especially when it comes to innovation.”

Silva and his colleagues highlight the government’s role in funding COVID-19 vaccine development and how public and private sector companies benefit from all types of government-funded research and development.

“It’s a more philosophical example, but would Leonardo da Vinci have produced the same level of creativity if he had been under a rigid contract?” Silva asked. “If you don’t come up with an invention every year, you’re going to be fired. There’s a balance between risk and exploring ideas.”

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