North Carolina is one of the world's leading centers for medicine, biotechnology and public health research. Since its inception, the Research Triangle Park (RTP) has become the largest research park in the US, currently employing nearly 40,000 people. RTP and nearby research universities have drawn companies like Bayer, Biogen Idec, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Monsanto, and Wyeth to the area, as well as major institutions such as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further indications of the state's prominence are that seven Nobel Laureates in chemistry or medicine have called North Carolina home with four of them doing their prize-winning research in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, North Carolina's record on health issues isn't always so positive. North Carolina's eugenics program was one of the most active in the nation. The North Carolina General Assembly authorized legalized sterilization in 1929, and by 1977, when the General Assembly formally abolished the program, over 7,600 people had been sterilized.
Though North Carolina continues to exceed the national average for infant mortality, in 2011 North Carolina's infant mortality rate was the second lowest in the state's history. Our state ranks high in occupational safety, low in binge drinking rates, and shows significant declines in heart disease. This is a state with a 21st-Century mission: to continue to improve access to health care and support biotechnology research to enrich the lives of its ever-growing population.