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Portal pitched as matchmaker for firms, Mass. research centers

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STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

PORTAL PITCHED AS MATCHMAKER FOR COMPANIES, MASS. RESEARCH CENTERS

A new web portal is being launched by Massachusetts life sciences and hospital industry officials who hope it will serve as a place for companies around the world to partner with Bay State academic medical centers on research and clinical initiatives. The Massachusetts Clinical Innovation Gateway, announced Tuesday morning at the 2015 BIO International Convention in Philadelphia, features an online form that companies can complete and which will then be considered by academic medical center representatives. “In an intensely competitive global environment, development of the Massachusetts Innovation Gateway is an important step in making sure we do all we can to attract companies wishing to partner with our academic medical centers,” Mass Eye and Ear President and CEO John Fernandez, chair of the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, said in a statement. Conference officials made the announcement with the Mass. Life Sciences Center and the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center. Participating academic medical centers include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Boston Children’s Hospital; Boston Medical Center; Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital; Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Cambridge Health Alliance; Carney Hospital; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center; Lahey Hospital and Medical Center; Massachusetts Eye and Ear; Mass. General Hospital; St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center; Tufts Medical Center; UMass Memorial Medical Center, and VA Boston Healthcare. – Michael Norton/SHNS

NEW BOSTON-HAITI FLIGHTS WILL RUN THIS SUMMER

The market for air travel between Boston and Port-au-Prince, Haiti has grown 48 percent in three years and officials plan to gather Wednesday at Logan Airport to celebrate new JetBlue service between the two cities that will operate through Sept. 5, 2015. According to the Massachusetts Port Authority, the 8:30 a.m. gathering at Terminal E is intended to mark the first departing flight to Port-au-Prince and will be attended by Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, Vice Consul of Haiti Sandra Cazir, Boston tourism director Ken Brissette, Jaimie Perry of JetBlue, and Thomas Glynn and Ed Freni of Massport. Flights will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. – Michael Norton/SHNS

DUKAKIS HEADLINING ANTI-PILGRIM PLANT RALLY

Former Gov. Michael Dukakis is scheduled on Tuesday to headline a rally put together by organizers seeking to shut down Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth. Sen. Dan Wolf, a Harwich Democrat and co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, is also scheduled to speak, according to organizers. The rally is set for 2 p.m. inside Gardner Auditorium. The three groups sponsoring the rally are Cape Downwinders, Occupy Hingham and the Pilgrim Coalition, which argues the power plant is a threat to public safety and the environment. The power station was up and running in late May after a 35-day shutdown. Entergy Corporation said they made $70 million in investments, including the replacement of fuel in the reactor and equipment upgrades. “Generating electricity with nuclear energy prevents the emission of pollutants like sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) associated with burning fossil fuels,” Entergy says on its website. In January 2015, the plant shut down after two main transmission lines went down, but state officials said there was no safety hazard. According to Entergy, “no other electric generation fuel source in New England came close to producing power as reliably” in 2014. – Gintautas Dumcius/SHNS

REPORT: POLICYMAKERS NEED TO EMBRACE “CULTURE OF HEALTH”

Calling on state policymakers to embrace a “culture of health” in all decision-making, authors of a report released Tuesday cited progress in the battle against obesity but pointed to “gaping disparities” from community to community and among racial groups. “It is far too early to give ourselves good grades,” the Boston Foundation wrote in its latest “Healthy People, Healthy Economy” report. “First, it remains to be seen whether the unhealthy weight gain in Massachusetts has stopped for good. After all, America’s obesity crisis has been more than 30 years in the making. In Massachusetts, rates of overweight, obesity and related conditions such as diabetes remain at historically high levels. Disparities in rates and resulting health risks among African-American and Latino residents remain stubbornly high. There is an especially urgent need for addressing what can be termed ‘ZIP-code disparities,’ or huge differences in health between affluent communities and low-income, high-risk urban neighborhoods throughout the state.” The report lists the following causes for concern: disparities in health indicators among African-American and Latino residents; child and youth overweight/obesity rates that are at the high end of the range among the states; the continuing stagnation of family incomes; the so-called “zip code” disparities reflecting varying health indicators between communities; and slow growth in the workforce that is placing added emphasis on the health of older workers. The report recommends investments in early childhood care and education; greater emphasis on physical activity among youth; boosting local food production and expanding access to nutritious food and produce in low-income neighborhoods; transportation system improvements, including efforts to promote walking and bike use; and applying the 6.25 percent sales tax to soft drinks and candy. “One size doesn’t fit all,” Sen. Jason Lewis, co-chairman of the Public Health Committee, said during a forum Tuesday, applauding strategies tailored to community health needs. – Michael Norton/SHNS