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Columbia, Mo.— The University of Missouri Board of Curators will consider a proposal to name the NextGen Precision Health facility on the University of Missouri-Columbia’s campus after U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. The Board will discuss the proposal at their meeting on Thursday, Sept. 2, ahead of the NextGen building’s grand opening later this fall.
“For three decades, Senator Roy Blunt has championed the mission of public education in Missouri,” UM President Mun Choi said. “No one has contributed more to the dramatic increase in funding for biomedical research and Pell grants. His efforts to ensure access to high-quality education and health care have surely transformed lives in Missouri and beyond.”
The proposal, which will be submitted to the Board of Curators when they meet Thursday, requests approval to name the facility the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Building.
The NextGen Precision Health initiative brings together innovators from across the UM System’s four research universities, clinicians and industry leaders in pursuit of life-changing precision health advancements. The initiative aims to shorten the nearly two-decade journey it takes for research findings to become clinical practice.
Senator Blunt’s leadership in Congress has helped increase National Institutes of Health funding for this kind of research, increasing funding in every bill since fiscal year 2016 for a total increase of nearly 43% over the past six years. At the University of Missouri-Columbia, NIH-funded research has increased more than 50%.
He has been integral in solidifying key federal partnerships with NextGen and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and secured funding for 20 years to support that partnership.
Blunt was also instrumental in establishing a medical student education program to address primary care doctor shortages in rural areas. As part of this program, over the past three years, he secured $25 million, split between the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, to address the issue of doctor shortages in the state.
A champion of public higher education, Blunt authored legislation to increase maximum Pell grant awards for four consecutive years. In 2017, he reinstated Year-Round Pell, which allows students to receive additional Pell grants during the school year to help them graduate on time and with less debt. He’s increased funding for campus-aid programs by 20% and funding for first-generation college students by 22%.
The NextGen Precision Health initiative, the highest priority of the UM System, will be anchored by a state-of-the-art facility with an exceptional set of resources under one roof. The 265,000-square-foot building located at 1030 Hitt Street on the campus of the University Hospital in Columbia, will support and expand the existing research infrastructure of both MU and MU Health Care, which includes the nation’s most powerful research reactor (MURR) and strategic partnerships.
The building complex will expand collaboration among researchers, clinicians and industry leaders with state-of-the-art space designed with an open laboratory concept built for multidisciplinary use. Researchers will have access to a Clinical Translational Science Unit, an imaging suite with some of the most advanced equipment in the market and high-resolution microscopy, integrated informatics and data analytics spaces, and scientific “clean” rooms.
The $221 million project has been financed through federal, state and donor support. The grand opening of the new facility will be held Oct. 19.