Kentucky Legislators OK Funding for New UK Research Facility

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 3, 2015) — The Kentucky Senate Tuesday overwhelmingly endorsed funding for a multi-disciplinary research facility at the University of Kentucky that will specifically focus on health disparities confronting the Commonwealth.

Under the legislation, which now goes to Gov. Steve Beshear for his signature, the state will fund $132.5 million of the cost of constructing the $265 million facility. UK will fund the other half through research contracts and private fundraising.

"Our goal is to make death a beggar in Kentucky," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "Our legislators, through their vision and far-sightedness, have decided that an investment today in UK and its world-class faculty and staff will pay off for our state for generations to come."

View more of Capilouto's comments about today's historic vote and what it means for UK and the Commonwealth:

"Kentuckians have suffered from poor health and early deaths for decades, and sadly, many of these diseases are preventable or manageable with proper health care," Beshear said.  "Combating these entrenched health problems requires big changes and big investments.

"I’m heartened by the legislature’s support of a major investment in UK’s planned medical research facility, which will focus its work on reducing Kentucky's unacceptably high rates of preventable diseases and deaths.  The facility will complement the lifesaving efforts at Markey Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute. Finally, this medical research facility will attract world-class researchers to target rapid improvements in Kentucky's collective health.  These are worthy goals with statewide benefits."  

The building, which would be located near UK's bio-pharm and biological biomedical research buildings, would put together researchers across disciplines, working in teams, to address some of the state’s most intractable issues. If approved by Gov. Beshear, UK will work to begin construction by the end of the year.

The health challenges the facility and researchers will address include the hundreds of deaths that occur in Kentucky each year due to cancer, heart and pulmonary disease, stroke and other preventable illnesses.

Those health maladies are particularly acute in Eastern Kentucky, which is served by UK HealthCare through a number of partnerships with local and regional hospitals and health providers. Capilouto has said that targeted combination of leading research and outstanding clinical care, in partnership with communities, can lead to better health outcomes.

Support for — and momentum behind — the facility grew in January when Senate President Robert Stivers endorsed the proposal.

“I believe that this facility will kind of be at the forefront of making a healthier population, a more educated population and a population, which will be able to go into the workforce,” Stivers said.

During earlier testimony before a key House committee, 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. 

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 a presentation about the proposed facility can be viewed here: