University of Iowa: July-August 2014

University of Iowa: July-August 2014

February 25, 1847
Iowa City, IA
The conduct of research, scholarship and creative activities is at the core of The University of Iowa's multiple missions of education, research, service and outreach to the state, region, nation and beyond.

The University of Iowa (UI) has long been recognized as a leader in fields as diverse as health care, the sciences, humanities and the arts, in interdisciplinary studies and in the recognition of creative activities in awarding advanced degrees. The research enterprise is an essential element of the university's identity as one of the most distinguished public research universities in the United States.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development is committed to forging new frontiers of discovery by providing resources and support to researchers and innovators at the university, to promote a culture of creativity that enriches the campus, the state and the world. This encouraging environment produces research breakthroughs with local, national and international impacts, particularly in the area of vaccine development.

A UI professor of microbiology discovered the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter, a tool to "promote" the expression of proteins that transformed the production of numerous protein-based drugs now on the market. Today, a vaccine is currently under development to protect against lethal pneumonia caused by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria, including drug-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

"We bring together people with complementary skills to attack problems as a team that no one of them would be able to attack singly," said Daniel A. Reed, Ph.D., vice president for research and economic development. "Our big focus is on how we catalyze more multidisciplinary research." The state's rural aging population presents challenges that require a multifaceted approach.

"The College of Public Health, the College of Nursing, the (Carver) College of Medicine and even our Public Policy Center are intersecting to work on rural health, safety and related issues," Reed said.

A challenge to the work of advocating to advance research is that research funding in inflation-adjusted dollars is at a multi-year low. This places undue stress on the national research infrastructure.

"Advocacy for research funding is critical, especially to explain the lag from research discoveries to impact, which can be a decade or more," Reed said. "Today's discoveries feed the pipeline for future impacts, and discoveries from decades ago are having impacts today."

Explaining the research enterprise is important, as there's a lack of understanding among some stakeholders.

"Many do not understand what happens in ‘those buildings with the glass walls,' and that applies to legislators too," Reed said. "We have to explain that research is a human endeavor and remind people of the passion and curiosity they felt as children."

Research!America's work is important to the university, particularly the organization's messaging regarding the consequences of the failure to invest in research, and the economic and political realities of why it's important for researchers to engage in debate about investment, Reed added.

"If you're not engaged in the debate it doesn't mean the debate won't happen," Reed said. "The decisions will happen, but you just won't be a part of them."

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Media Contacts

Tim Haynes
Senior Director of Communications 

If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana