UK Research Building Clears First Legislative Hurdle
The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday strongly endorsed legislation that would provide funding for a multi-disciplinary research building on the University of Kentucky campus targeted at the Commonwealth’s most pressing challenges.
“Our goal is to make death a beggar in Kentucky,” said UK President Eli Capilouto, who testified before the committee Tuesday morning.
The legislation now goes to the full House for consideration.
Specifically, the state would fund $132.5 million of the projected $265 million research building. UK would fund the other half. The building, which would be located on South Limestone next to the bio-pharmacy building, would put together researchers across disciplines, working in teams, to address some of the state’s most intractable issues, including the hundreds of deaths that occur in Kentucky each year due to cancer, heart and pulmonary disease, stroke and other preventable deaths.
Kentucky is above the national average in incidence rates for those deaths, and the rates are particularly acute in Eastern Kentucky. Capilouto and UK Interim Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis told lawmakers that UK has some 330 individual research projects — totaling some $350 million — currently investigating those challenges and others.
"The research we are conducting directly addresses many of the most compelling problems facing Kentucky," Cassis said. "This facility will enable us to expand that work by recruiting and retaining the faculty who are on the cutting edge of discovery and research."
Moreover, the economic impact of research is significant as well, Capilouto said, pointing to a recent UK study that concluded that the annual direct and indirect economic impact of UK’s sponsored research across the campus was $581 million in fiscal year 2013, with more than 8,000 jobs created and $21.3 million generated annually in local and state taxes.
A link to the presentation by Capilouto and Cassis can be viewed here:
"I think there are two things we can improve in Kentucky, that is education and the health of our population,” said Rick Rand, chair of the committee, "and I believe this (building) does both.”