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With Labor Day weekend upon us, Congress' seven-week summer recess is quickly coming to a close. All U.S. Senators and Representatives will return to DC next Tuesday for a short session before the election. Throughout the extended district work period, the University of Illinois (U of I) seized various opportunities to interface with legislators. The following edition recaps some of those interactions.

Connecting with Peoria-area Legislators on Economic Development Initiatives
Photo Credit: Hoemann-Perrone Photography 

This past Tuesday, U of I President Tim Killeen led a delegation of our university leaders—from Board of Trustees Chairman Ed McMillan to chancellors to vice chancellors to deans—to Peoria for a series of events centering around U of I's ambitions to elevate its strategic partnerships and spur economic growth in that region. The day got off to a great start with a legislative breakfast hosted by Illinois Connection, the legislative advocacy network for the University of Illinois Alumni Association. Over 100 alumni, community leaders, university leaders, business leaders, and local legislators attended. The breakfast program involved a panel discussion focused on Peoria's economic development needs. Panelists included Sara Rusch, Regional Dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP), U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, City of Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, Caterpillar's Community Relations Director Henry Vicary, and Allen Cullinan, an alum and Executive Vice President of United Contractors Midwest. Rep. Cheri Bustos' Chief of Staff Jon Pyatt and three state legislators—Illinois State Senator David Koehler, State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth, and State Representative Mike Unes—also provided their perspectives on Peoria's opportunities and challenges.


Following the breakfast, the contingent of U of I leaders and legislators headed to Caterpillar (CAT) for a roundtable discussion led by President Killeen and CAT management, including CEO Doug Oberhelman. With presentations by Urbana College of Engineering Dean Andreas Cangellaris and National Center for Supercomputing Applications Acting Deputy Director Scott Wilkin, the discussion revolved around the value of the strategic alliance, while delving into specific areas in which U of I and CAT collaborate, including high performance computing, Urbana's new Engineering Research Center (POETS), and digital manufacturing (DMDII).


The group then headed over to the Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center (Jump Simulation)—an OSF HealthCare and UICOMP collaboration—for another roundtable, this time on the partnership between U of I and the OSF HealthCare System.

In addition to talking about the state-of-the-art medical training that is enabled by Jump Simulation, UIC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Robert Barish and UIC College of Medicine Dean Dimitri Azar informed the legislators about joint efforts around population health and personalized medicine. Urbana Engineering Dean Cangellaris spoke about how his College has partnered with Jump to advance technologies and techniques for clinical simulations through the Jump Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (Jump ARCHES).

The day came to a close with a media availability in which President Killeen recapped the day's activities. For more pictures and commentary, check out the Storify story that University Relations put together.

VCR Dutta Touts UIC Biomedical Research at Event with the NIH Director

Earlier this week, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Francis Collins, visited Chicago at the invitation of Sen. Dick Durbin. As part of the visit, Sen. Durbin hosted a biomedical research forum with Dr. Collins and three Illinois university research leaders—including UIC's own Vice Chancellor for Research, Mitra Dutta. During the Davos-style chat, Dr. Dutta and the other university leaders had a chance to talk about Illinois NIH-funded projects, such as the recently announced grant to enroll participants in the national Precision Medicine Cohort Program.

UIC Participates in Sen. Kirk's Brain Consortium Meeting

Dr. Jeffrey Loeb, Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, joined representatives from Argonne National Laboratory, University of Chicago, Rush University Medical Center, Ann & Robert Lurie H. Children's Hospital, and Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine to participate in a roundtable discussion convened by Sen. Mark Kirk on brain-related research. Dr. Walter Koroshetz, the Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the NIH, also participated remotely. During the meeting, Dr. Loeb highlighted the UI NeuroRepository, an Investigator Database of de-identified datasets, a biorepository, and resources to facilitate collaborative efforts. 

Killeen Presents Foster with Champion of Science Award

U of I President Tim Killeen joined representatives from Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to bestow Rep. Bill Foster with the Champion of Science award, a recognition for Members of Congress who have demonstrated consistent support for funding basic scientific research. With the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Chicago as the backdrop for the ceremony, Rep. Foster received the award in a crowd of several hundred physicists. President Killeen had the honor of delivering remarks on behalf of the nominating institutions. Click here to read Rep. Foster's release and here to read a release by the Science Coalition.

Other Key Interactions

Rep. Cheri Bustos recently spent time visiting the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP), which is located in her district. Rep. Bustos met with UICOMP Regional Dean Sara Rusch, as well as with students. Dean Rusch briefed Rep. Bustos on UICOMP's rural health program.


The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced new grant awards. Urbana received three grants in this round, which altogether total over half a million dollars. Project Directors for the awards include Craig KoslofskyRoberto ZauggAllyson Purpura, and Kyle Rimkus. Congratulations to them!


Thank you,

Melissa Haas | Acting Director | OGR Federal Relations