New UK Research Facility Gets Green Light From State Legislature

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 4, 2015) — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto believes it is time "to make death a beggar in Kentucky.”

It’s the idea that through world-class research across an array of disciplines, and a commitment to working as partners with communities across the state, some of the most stubborn health challenges and statistics that plague Kentucky can be successfully attacked.

On Tuesday, the state General Assembly and Gov. Steve Beshear demonstrated their unwavering commitment to that vision of addressing Kentucky’s most stubborn health disparities by endorsing funding for construction of a $265 million, multidisciplinary research building at UK. 

The Senate voted 36-1 Tuesday in support of funding  $132.5 million of the cost of constructing the $265 million facility. UK will fund the other half through research contracts and private fundraising. Earlier this month, the House also strongly endorsed the proposal, which has also had Beshear’s strong support throughout the legislative process.

"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.  Combating these entrenched health problems requires big changes and big investments,” Beshear said of the research facility. "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.”

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.

Capilouto said the overwhelming support from Gov. Beshear and legislators also underscored the faith state policymakers have in the university to transform the Commonwealth for the better. 

"This is a clear and resounding endorsement of this institution and of our faculty and staff,” Capilouto said. "This facility — envisioned by our Board of Trustees at their October 2014 Retreat — will bring together researchers and others across our campus, from a host of disciplines, working side-by-side on the issues that most challenge our state. In particular, we will focus together on dangerously stubborn health disparities — the hundreds of preventable deaths that occur each year from diseases such as stroke, diabetes and cancer. Gov. Beshear and 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:

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.


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: