Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Dec. 14 awarded an $8.2 million grant to enhance the growth of bioscience research and economic development on the campus of the University of Iowa.
“We recognize the level of in-depth and high-quality, valuable research being conducted at the University of Iowa to further advance the health of the people of our state, our nation and across the globe,” said Reynolds. “That’s why we’re making this commitment to provide the researchers the solutions they need to excel and continue advancing the future of biosciences.”
“We are deeply appreciative of the support from the governor, and we look forward to getting this project started,” said UI President Barbara Wilson. “Our innovative faculty, staff, and students urgently need more laboratory space to support the growth of drug discovery, biomedical research, and ultimately economic development—all made possible by this grant.”
The UI plays a key role in advancing the bioscience industry in the state. Building the infrastructure needed to boost the entrepreneurial skills of the campus is a priority of both the state and university.
Once approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, the UI, in collaboration with the state, will renovate space in the south tower of the old College of Pharmacy building to enable faculty from across campus to explore the applications of their research. The funding also will help to build out the top floor of the new College of Pharmacy building. The new top-floor space will allow existing College of Pharmacy research faculty who have labs in the old pharmacy building to be relocated closer to their colleagues.
“Our faculty, staff, and students are ready to unravel the next bioscience inventions, and this investment from the state removes one of the hurdles in their way, which is access to wet lab space,” said Kevin Kregel, UI’s executive vice president and provost.
A wet lab is laboratory space equipped with appropriate plumbing, ventilation, and equipment to allow drugs, chemicals, or other types of matter to be analyzed and tested.
“Commercial wet lab space for clinicians and researchers is essential to creating a robust pipeline of startup companies that will solve the health care needs of Iowans,” said Jon Darsee, the university’s chief innovation officer. “For example, Digital Diagnostics, an artificial intelligence company founded at Iowa, is pioneering solutions that connect people in rural communities to specialized medicine for treating diabetes and other diseases.”
The $8.2 million from the state will be used to enhance existing space, thereby avoiding the construction of a new building. As a result, the UI will minimize the need for new operational costs while creating commercial wet lab and innovation space for economic development.
“This support from the governor will provide the university and its entrepreneurial faculty, staff, and students with a tremendous opportunity to invest in the future economic success of Iowa,” Wilson said.