Michael Tanner's op-ed, "Get gov't out of medical research" [Opinion, Feb. 8], fails to consider a critical element: It is the responsibility of government to provide a safe and progressive environment. The government should -- and must -- play a key role in such vital areas as higher education, medical research, transportation and energy to ensure the well-being of its citizens.

In fact, the vast majority of medical research advances are developed not by private industry, but in the laboratories of our colleges, many of them public universities. Historically, private industry is much more apt to purchase these innovations and pay royalties to the college, rather than invest in the creation from the start.

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If we want to continue the significant progress being made against many diseases, as well as the discoveries that lead to technological advances such as the MRI, then medical research must be supported by the federal government.

Patrick Calabria, Seaford

Editor's note: The writer is a vice president at Farmingdale State College.