November 09, 2006|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun Reporter

With biotechnology considered one of Maryland's top future industries, O'Malley latched onto it during his campaign and pledged to strengthen the state's position - though how he plans to do that isn't clear.

He has been a supporter of the city's two biotechnology business parks and has announced plans to create a "vaccine task force" that will offer advice on incentives and regulatory changes "needed to recruit vaccine-related businesses." He's used city funds to help pay for a study that assessed the region's ability to support and attract such facilities.

But he hasn't outlined many specifics for a broad industry plan. What he has done - unlike his predecessor - is take a stronger stance on one of the industry's hottest topics: stem cells. Unlike Ehrlich, O'Malley embraces embryonic stem-cell research, often aligning with groups that support such research.

Publicly, Ehrlich supported only adult stem-cell research.

O'Malley also has promised to add $10 million to the newly created Maryland Stem Cell Fund, bringing its total up to $25 million. And he has hinted that the money could be an annual thing.

"It is critical that the public and industry observers know that Maryland's commitment to this groundbreaking field of work is unwavering and will be sustained," his campaign literature states.

That compares with the $3 billion that California pledged to spend on such research over 10 years.

Tricia Bishop

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