Matthew Nemerson, M.P.P.M. ’81, grew up in New Haven, spending many an hour in a laboratory at the School of Medicine where his father, Yale Nemerson, M.D., was a leading researcher in the science of blood clotting. After college and stints in journalism and politics, Matthew Nemerson returned to New Haven where he was the founding vice president at Science Park, and president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. Now the city’s economic development administrator, Nemerson spoke with Yale Medicine recently about the relationship between the School of Medicine and the City of New Haven.
How do you see the School of Medicine’s role in the city? I think the school has always tried to balance world class research in basic science with a commitment to helping the diverse and often needy community outside its front door. My dad could go from the molecular level of factor XII to manning the MASH tents at the protests on May Day 1970.
What role has the School of Medicine played in the city’s economy? For more than half a century, a lot of redevelopment in the city has had to do with reconnecting the medical campus to downtown. Basic research and thinking about medicine from a “Big Science” standpoint have been strategically important to Yale since the 1950s, and giving the Cedar Street campus room to grow and bring in federal research dollars was part of the motivation behind building the Route 34 Connector.
Do you see the city emerging as a bioscience hub? The city’s challenge is to match the enormity of Yale’s bioscience research with an economic foundation that can support startup activity, attract commercial talent, and keep companies here. We have to be competitive with Cambridge and San Francisco and other great bioscience and research centers.
How has New Haven benefited from the bioscience industry? I see the biosciences as having a huge multiplier effect. We have dozens of bioscience companies and the med center itself that provide jobs and stimulate the economy. We have restaurants, unique boutiques, and popular entertainment venues. We have a wonderful assortment of housing. A world class stature in bioscience is a key driver of our strong urban economy.