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Biotech prosperity will take time, cash | Jan. 28

Invest in Moffitt for our future

Last week's article "Only 1,100 jobs for $1.5 billion? Florida's biotech cluster won't come cheap" was right on target regarding the need for more private equity investment in the state's biotech industry. But one promising venture that will reap great rewards for Florida is right here in Tampa Bay.

Moffitt Cancer Center is shaping the future of this burgeoning industry. We believe our state can only realize its full potential in this arena through a two-fold approach. First, an infusion of venture capital from people and companies willing to invest in promising businesses. Second, state and local investment incentives to foster creativity and innovation.

Moffitt and its subsidiaries are living proof that investment pays great dividends. In just 23 years, with investment from the state, county, city, donors and investors, Moffitt has grown from a small cancer hospital with 421 employees, to an internationally renowned cancer center, clinical facility and research institute with nearly 4,000 employees and a $1.2 billion annual economic impact. Moffitt was awarded more National Cancer Institute dollars than any other institution in Florida. We're ranked 23rd nationally in NCI funding, and we're the youngest institution with an NCI designation.

Recent discoveries and scientific innovations have led to financial investment that has enabled Moffitt to create one of Florida's most innovative new companies that is creating high-paying biotech jobs right here in the bay area. That company, M2Gen, is producing the single largest and most advanced project that relates tumor gene expression profiling to clinical outcomes in cancer. Simply stated, it's developing tools for personalized cancer care focusing on each individual's specific condition.

With more economic investment — public and private — Moffitt will complete build-out of the Moffitt Medical and Research Park, which will create new jobs with high salaries for people living and working right here in Tampa Bay, right here in Florida. In essence, an investment now in research at Moffitt and M2Gen is an investment in the lives of patients and their families for years to come.

Dr. William S. Dalton, CEO and center director, Moffitt Cancer Center

TIA board member feuds with director | Feb. 3

Add international flights at TIA

I read with much interest the article "TIA board member feuds with director" and applaud board member Steven Burton's request for documents from the TIA's executive Louis Miller. While Mr. Miller has done an admirable job with TIA in the past, where is the transparency?

I am in total agreement with Mr. Burton's position to invigorate the airport's efforts to recruit more international flights. While Mr. Miller sites studies of weak demand for international flights, could it be because there are so few international flights available? The Tampa Bay area has everything and more that the Orlando area has except the international flights to bring international business and tourists to Tampa Bay.

It appears as though we have a chicken and egg syndrome here. If you don't have the flights, the people will not come. An increase in international flights would be an incredible boost to our local economy.

Thank you, Mr. Burton, for your forward-looking ideas. We need to take this community to the next level, and the only way I see this is bringing the international community to the Tampa Bay area.

Ralphael Marie Clarke, Tampa

Yes to improved skill sets | Feb. 2

FCAT has only hurt students

For years, Florida teachers were allowed to teach the curriculum, and for years, students were tested on the national level, and they did well. Now, students have to endure endless testing for the FCAT: pretest, test, post test. A lot of the school year is wasted on the FCAT. (There is no correlation between national tests and FCAT. Also, no college requires FCAT scores.)

For years, all high school seniors were required to take the SAT test. This test is required by most colleges. The tests were given during class time in high schools. Now, only students who want to go to college are required to take the SAT. In fact, they have to take it on Saturdays because the schools no longer provide it.

How many more years will the teachers in public schools be forced to teach the FCAT and ignore the curriculum they should be teaching? Check the dropout rates in high school and look for the increase in dropouts when the state started using the FCAT for promotion and graduation. The FCAT is no more than a diagnostic test to determine the student's weak and strong areas. It was never designed to be used for promotional and graduation purposes.

High school students become discouraged when they have difficulty passing the FCAT. So, rather than continue their high school studies knowing they cannot pass the FCAT, they drop out their sophomore or junior year. (If this is such a wonderful test, why are the private and parochial schools exempt from taking it?)

The FCAT did provide one positive. It made their publishing company very successful in selling to the state all of the pretests, tests and post tests. The only ones that suffered were our students who have lost out on so many wonderful learning experiences and a successful end to their high school careers: graduation.

Margaret Hyde, Clearwater

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Your letters 02/06/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 8, 2010 12:00pm]
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