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Poll Finds Virginians Strongly Support Health and Biomedical Research

Virginians across the political spectrum (84%) say investing in research is important to the state’s economy, according to a new survey released today. Commissioned by Research!America in partnership with Virginia Tech, the April 2022 survey captures Virginians’ views on the economic impact of biomedical research and opinions on other public health and science issues. 

Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley will share the survey results as part of a Virginia Research & Innovation event this afternoon at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke, VA, focused on the state and national impact of research and innovation. The event will be webcast live at 3 p.m

It’s wonderful to see the strong support Virginians have for scientific research and innovation. Investment in research is vital to economic growth, public health, and global competitiveness,” said Mary Woolley. “We are proud to partner with Virginia Tech to better understand public opinion in Virginia to reveal opportunities to accelerate research engagement, STEM education, and other areas to help the Commonwealth – and the nation – to prosper.” 

Approximately 8 in 10 Virginians say it’s important for the Commonwealth to be a leader in several areas important to the economy as well as quality of life, such as education (82%), agriculture (79%), and medical and health research (78%). However, the perception is there’s still a significant need for growth. A relatively low 6 in 10 Virginians feel the Commonwealth is currently a leader in those same areas of education (62%), agriculture (67%), and medical and health research (62%). 

The public’s responses give a voice to sustained and enhanced support for the research enterprise across all of the state’s universities and with industry,” said Michael Friedlander, Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology and executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC. “At Virginia Tech, we are pleased by the strong support for research in several areas of our emphasis in the health sciences, including children’s health, mental health and addiction, and translational research and commercialization to advance human and animal health.” 

Additional survey findings include: 

  • 94% of Virginians believe the U.S. should maintain its role as a world leader in medical research. 
  • 88% say education and training in STEM is important to Virginia’s competitiveness and economic prosperity. 
  • 84% support increased funding for childhood disease research. 
  • 75% agree Virginia taxpayer funds should be invested in attracting health and medical research to the Commonwealth by improving research facilities, equipment, and other resources.
  • 70% say Commonwealth of Virginia tax dollars should support scientific research at public universities. 
  • In addition to prioritizing Covid-19, Virginians identify cost of healthcare, mental health, and substance/opioid abuse as the most serious health issues facing the nation. The majority (59%) also say investment in mental health research has not been adequate. 

Many additional important findings will be announced and discussed at the event. The presentation will also look at how Virginians’ responses compare to a national survey conducted in January 2022. 

For 30 years, Research!America has been commissioning surveys to help understand public support for medical, health, and scientific research, among other state, national, and global issues related to public health and research and innovation.  

The online survey was conducted by Zogby Analytics on behalf of Research!America in March and April 2022, among 1,003 adults. The survey has a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. 

For questions about the event or to set up an interview with Michael Friedlander, PhD, contact John Pastor, Senior Communications Director for Virginia Tech Health Sciences and Technology, at 540-526-2222 or jdpastor@vt.edu with press inquiries. 

For questions about the survey, or to set up an interview with Mary Woolley, contact Tim Haynes, Senior Director of Communications for Research!America, at 571-482-2737 or thaynes@researchamerica.org with press inquiries. 

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About Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC 

The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC is one of the nation’s fastest-growing academic biomedical research enterprises and a destination for world-class researchers. The institute’s Virginia Tech scientists focus on diseases that are the leading causes of death and suffering in the United States, including brain disorders, heart disease, and cancer. 

About Research!America 

Research!America is a non-profit medical and health research advocacy alliance which advocates for science, discovery, and innovation to achieve better health for all. Visit www.researchamerica.org. 

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