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The University of Illinois System co-hosted a breakfast meeting with Sen. Dick Durbin this week with the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Francis Collins, and the Illinois Congressional delegation. Eight members of the delegation attended, including Sen. Durbin and Reps. Danny Davis, Cheri Bustos, Jan Schakowsky, Robin Kelly, Brad Schneider, Bobby Rush, and Bill Foster. Rep. Larry Bucshon (IN-08), a double U of I alumnus ('84 UIUC, BSLAS; '88 UIC, MD), also attended, as well as staff from most of the Illinois offices.


President Killeen was accompanied by UIC's vice chancellor for health affairs Bob Barish, Rob Winn, associate vice chancellor for community-based practice and director of the UI Cancer Center, and Jerry Krishnan, associate vice chancellor for population health sciences. The meeting provided the members with a unique opportunity to engage with Dr. Collins while hearing about the impact of NIH-supported projects in Illinois, such as "All of Us," a $45 million effort to enroll 150,000 Illinoisans in the national Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program, in which UIC plays a significant leadership role. President Killeen talked about the unique research capabilities at Urbana that support NIH's mission, while highlighting how the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine will revolutionize medical education and research. In Fiscal Year 2016, our two major research universities in Chicago and Urbana-Champaign received more than $170 million combined from NIH to support research and training.


Last week, as part of the University of Illinois President's Executive Leadership Program (PELP), U of I President Tim Killeen led 16 administrators and faculty from across our three universities to Washington, D.C for a two-day seminar. The seminar was organized by OGR Federal Relations in conjunction with the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and involved interactions with Congress, national associations, federal agencies, and engagement with DC-area alumni.


After an introductory presentation by OGR and our consulting firm Lewis-Burke Associates, the PELP fellows had a productive exchange regarding strategies for effective university advocacy and coalition building. The session was led by a panel of representatives from three national associations—the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The next session was led by Suzanne Iacono, head of the Office of Integrative Activities at the National Science Foundation, who provided a high-level overview of the agency's budget and priorities.


That afternoon, the group transitioned to Capitol Hill for a series of sessions with members of Congress and Congressional staff. They first heard from staff members who directly advise our four Illinois members who serve on the House Science Committee. Fellows also heard from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, who discussed his priorities in serving on the House Education and Workforce Committee, and from Rep. Rodney Davis, who discussed his legislative interests and efforts through the House Agriculture Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.


That evening, the PELP group participated in a special event on the Hill celebrating the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Sesquicentennial. Nearly 200 DC-area alumni and Congressional staff attended the reception, in addition to six members of Congress—Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and Representatives Bobby Rush, Dan Lipinski, Danny Davis, and Jan Schakowsky. Urbana Vice Chancellor for Advancement Barry Benson kicked off a short program that included remarks by President Killeen and Chancellor Robert Jones. President Killeen and Chancellor Jones presented the Illinois legislators with commemorative sesquicentennial medallions.


The next morning, PELP fellows traveled to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where they met with various institute officials, including Mike Lauer, deputy director for extramural research, Carrie Wolinetz, associate director for science policy and acting chief of staff for NIH Director Francis Collins; and Richard Nakamura, director of NIH's Center for Scientific Review.


After NIH, the group had a session with Trent Frazier, executive director for the Office of Academic Engagement at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A session followed with Amy Liu, director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution

Their final two sessions featured dialogues with Chip Walgren, a long-time professional staff member (and Urbana alumnus) from the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, and Richard Chalkey, who shared a personal account about his path from campus to the White House.


This year's President's Executive Leadership Program fellows are: Steve Everett (UIC), Fernando Howell (UIC), Jerry Krishnan (UIC), Michael Pagano (UIC), Clark Stanford (UIC), Nikos Varelas (UIC), Vickie Cook (UIS), Lucia Vazquez (UIS), Paul Ellinger (Urbana-Champaign), Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell (Urbana-Champaign), Robin Kaler (Urbana-Champaign), Kimberlee Kidwell (Urbana-Champaign), Sharee Robinson (Urbana-Champaign), Bill Sanders (Urbana-Champaign), Meenakshy Aiyer (College of Medicine, Peoria), and Harley Johnson (Urbana-Champaign; University Senates Conference).

In addition to President Killeen, others accompanying the group were Executive Vice President Barb Wilson, Chief of Staff Laura Clower, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Sarah Zehr, Executive Director of Governmental Relations Lindsay Anderson, Director of Federal Relations Paul Weinberger, Associate Director of Federal Relations Melissa Haas, and OGR Fellow Emily Tuttle.


Bill Sanders, head of Urbana's department of electrical and computer engineering, served as a witness before the full House Science Committee this week at a hearing examining electric grid resiliency from both physical and cyber threats. He was invited to testify because of his role in drafting the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s July 2017 consensus study report, "Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation’s Electricity System." Prior to the hearing, Dr. Sanders met with Rep. Darin LaHood.


Thank you,

OGR Federal Relations

Paul Weinberger and Melissa Haas