$5 Million Grant Funds Renovations to Environmental Health Research Complex
Cincinnati—A National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant totaling nearly $5 million will fund extensive renovations of the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine’s
Department of Environmental Health.
Funding will be used to renovate the Kettering Laboratory research complex, located on UC’s Academic Health Center campus. The 93,000-square-foot facility has four wings, with the oldest being completed in 1949. Renovations will begin this summer and continue through 2014.
Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), this new funding represents one of the largest single grants and first research facility renovation-focused award to UC from the federal economic stimulus package. The grant, awarded by the NIH's National Center for Research Resources, is expected to stimulate local economic growth through the addition of up to 12 new faculty research jobs within UC’s environmental health department and 30 construction-related jobs per year during active renovation.
“It’s not often that we have the opportunity to apply for significant funding for facility renovations, yet aging facilities are one of the biggest challenges modern research universities face,” says Sandra Degen, PhD, vice president for research at UC. “This grant is a tremendous opportunity for both UC and the community because it will allow us to renovate one of our oldest research facilities into a cutting edge space that is necessary for attracting top-notch researchers to the region.”
Led by Shuk-mei Ho, PhD, UC’s environmental health department is ranked fourth in the nation among NIH-funded environmental research programs. The department also holds the largest portfolio of sponsored research funding at the College of Medicine, topping $19.5 million in fiscal year 2009.
Since Ho assumed chairmanship of environmental health in 2005, the department’s faculty has grown but funding restrictions have limited the university’s ability to renovate the outdated space to accommodate the scientific equipment and reconfigured laboratory space necessary for modern basic and translational research teams.
“We’re on a continuous mission to improve in the environmental health department: We’re building human capital and research capacity and working to modernize our research facilities so that UC—and Cincinnati—will continue to be an attractive option for the type of top-caliber scientists we want in our region,” says Ho, Jacob G. Schmidlapp professor and chair of environmental health.
“This grant allows us to pursue much-needed renovation of our existing laboratory space, the majority of which hasn’t been sufficiently updated for decades,” she adds. “Our selection for this grant is primarily due to national recognition that UC is a powerhouse for environmental, occupational and medical health knowledge that has exceptional impact on our regional communities and their economic growth.”
UC’s environmental health department includes more than 55 full-time faculty and 40 adjunct/part-time in four divisions: epidemiology and biostatistics; environmental genetics and molecular toxicology; environmental and occupational hygiene; and occupational and environmental medicine. The department currently has more than 150 master’s and doctoral-level student trainees. To learn more, visit eh.uc.edu.
To date, UC has received more than $35 million in ARRA-related grants for research programs. In fiscal year 2009, UC and its affiliates brought in approximately $380 million in research funding. UC isranked among the nation’s top public research universities based on federal research and development expenditures, is region’s largest employer and has an enrollment of over 39,500 students.