Both the House and the Senate were on recess this week. The House returns on Monday to take up legislation regarding coal mining regulations, and may also consider legislation to address physician reimbursement under Medicare as well as the ongoing situtation in Ukraine. The Senate also returns on Monday, and will take up legislation supporting Ukraine.
Durbin to Make Major Policy Address at UIC
With the University of Illinois at Chicago as his backdrop, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will make a major policy address Monday morning about the need to enhance biomedical research in the United States. The senator recently filed legislation—The American Cures Act—that will create a mandatory trust account, exempt from sequestration, for biomedical research conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as health programs in the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Those funds would be keyed annually to the rate of inflation plus 5 percent. UIC College of Medicine Dean Dimitri Azar will introduce Senator Durbin, who we anticipate will highlight major University of Illinois research breakthroughs in his address. The speech will be delivered at 10:15 a.m. in the Student and Faculty Alumni Lounge at 1853 W. Polk Street. Last week, UI President Robert A. Easter endorsed the bill and provided a letter of support.
Obama Library Campaign Officially Begins
The Barack Obama Foundation officially issued its Request for Qualification for the Obama Presidential Library (OPL) this week. UIC is one of the top national aspirants for the library, which includes the University of Chicago and several others from the city. The University of Hawaii and Columbia University have also expressed interest. The RFQ is the first step in the application process and will eliminate applicants that lack the financial or other resources to carry out the project.
UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares announced last November that UIC would make a strong bid for the library and that UIC’s research and public service accomplishments mirror Obama’s achievements in office. Proposals are due in mid-June.
Regulatory Relief Efforts Gaining Momentum
Over the past couple of months, there has been a significant increase in efforts to reform both higher education and research regulations. For instance, last fall, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators formed the Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education to conduct a comprehensive review of the regulatory requirements affecting colleges and universities, particularly those that stem from HEA and more generally, from the Department of Education. The task force is now soliciting input from stakeholders, and input from our community is being organized by the American Council on Education (ACE). Additionally, the recent omnibus appropriations bill included funding for a National Research Council study to look at the impact of federal regulations and reporting requirements on colleges and universities. If you would like more information about these initiatives, please contact Melissa Haas.
ILLINOIS IN DC
Several UI faculty were in town this week for the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2) conference, including Laura Frerichs, Director of Urbana's Research Park, Lesley Millar-Nicholson, Director of Urbana's Office of Technology Management, and Joey Mak, OVPR's Assistant Director of Economic Development. NCET2 is an organization that consists of hundreds of universities that support entrepreneurship by creating and funding university startups. Laura Frerichs presented on a panel that Lesley Millar-Nicholson moderated.
DC IN ILLINOIS
ADM, Prairie Research Institute Celebrate Key Carbon Storage Milestone with Congressional Champions
UI researchers, including Prairie Research Institutes’ Rob Finley and Urbana’s Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schiffer, joined Archer Daniels Midland Company, Sen. Durbin, and Rep. Rodney Davis in Decatur on Thursday to celebrate the success of the Illinois Basin-Decatur carbon capture and storage project. The event celebrated the injection of 750,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide—which otherwise would have been released into the atmosphere—safely underground. Both Finley and Schiffer praised Durbin and Davis—key congressional champions in protecting carbon storage efforts in the federal budget.
“The Illinois Basin-Decatur Project shows how carbon capture and storage can play an important role in the development of sustainable energy options for our future,” Durbin said. “The project also demonstrates the potential gains to be realized from close partnerships between universities, the private sector and all levels of government.”
PRI’s Terry McLennand coordinated the event.
It was announced this week that Madhu Khanna, a Professor in Urbana's Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, was awarded a $495,000 grant by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant will support a project that will focus on risk mitigation strategies to induce participation in the advanced biofuel industry by small and medium-sized farmers. Congratulations Professor Khanna!
Jon Pyatt and Melissa Haas
OGR Federal Relations