This is an archived article that was published on in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As the U.S. economy continues to struggle, Washington is consumed with finding a solution to our economic woes that will both sustain growth and encourage job creation.

Legislation passed by Congress last year is helping promising small Utah companies conducting groundbreaking research in the highly competitive life sciences and biotechnology fields to create and preserve innovative jobs as they conduct groundbreaking scientific medical research with the potential to save and improve countless lives.

The program, known as the Therapeutic Discovery Project, has thus far awarded nearly $13 million in federal grants to 35 small companies in Utah.

The Therapeutic Discovery Project provides small biotechnology companies with access to funding that will allow them to continue their search for diagnostics and treatments for autism spectrum disorders, breast cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, respiratory disease and other devastating medical conditions.

Through the TDP, these firms are getting the financial resources they need to break new scientific ground – in fact, only companies working on projects that showed potential to produce new cost-saving therapies were eligible.

This program pours new life into current research projects and helps companies like mine attract and retain the highest-quality people along with high-paying jobs. The TDP supports job creation here in Utah and helps sustain continued U.S. leadership in global innovation.

Biotech companies in Utah that received these funds will be helping patients confronted with blood cancers, lung cancer, autism spectrum disorders, and multiple sclerosis.

My Salt Lake City-based company, Lineagen, received $500,000 in TDP support to advance research identifying genetic markers associated with autism spectrum disorders, multiple sclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

We come to work every day knowing that we are getting closer to finding help for patients struggling with these afflictions.

The greatest threat to our progress is the possibility that a potential cure for cancer or another disease will be shelved due to a lack of funding. Programs like the TDP are essential to Utah's legacy of innovation in medical and life sciences.

Utah's medical researchers have provided the world with a host of crucial medical discoveries, including the development and first successful implantation of an artificial heart.

Now, hundreds of Utah companies are conducting research into more efficient cures and treatments, searching for the next great breakthrough that will save lives and drive economic dynamism. Utah's robust biotech industry employs more than 20,000 people and pumps millions into the state economy.

However, recent economic challenges have made it more difficult to find the private sector funding support needed to advance research projects in Utah and across the country.

Without this funding, the future of each research project is uncertain.

We are in danger of allowing small biotechnology companies conducting pivotal research to disappear, together with the high-quality jobs they create and support.

The TDP is a vital catalyst for this promising, innovative industry.

It also serves as an incentive for American biotech companies to continue their research and growth here in the United States and not be lured to other countries like India and China, which are pumping billions of dollars into their biotechnology industries.

By providing much-needed investment to support the work our brightest scientific minds have to offer, the Therapeutic Discovery Project will ensure that the next miracle drug does not languish in the lab, but rather moves through the process into the hands of patients.

Congress had the vision to create this program and now needs to demonstrate the wisdom to expand and extend it as we move forward.

Michael S. Paul, is president and CEO of LineaGen, Inc. in Salt Lake City.