Why public research universities?
Two stories in this weekend's Herald-Leader tell all you need to know.
The first involves a potentially groundbreaking device and surgical procedure that may help more patients in need of a double lung transplant. Pioneered at UK by doctors Charles Hoopes and Jay Zwischenberger, this story -- http://www.kentucky.com/2011/07/29/1828752/uk-lung-transplant-recipient.html -- illustrates in compelling fashion how basic scientific research leads to medical and economic breakthroughs that can literally save lives and change communities and states.
The second story involves an innovative partnership between UK and community treasure, Keeneland, to provide free dental screenings to the children of workers in Kentucky's equine industry http://www.kentucky.com/2011/07/31/1829536/uk-keeneland-bring-dental-clinic.html. It's precisely the kind of engagement and service that only a land-grant institution, with strong research can provide.
Kentucky is plagued by high rates of poor oral health, a condition that can lead to a whole host of other health issues, ranging from diabetes to pre-term, low birth weight babies. Attacking poor oral health early life is critical.
The two stories, which range from the most basic of health care to the most sophisticated and technical of medical procedures, underscore the difference-makers that research universities are to our country and our future progress.