New UI disability research center approved by Iowa Board of Regents

The board also approved proposals to construct a wrestling facility, State Hygienic Lab, replace Stead Family Children's Hospital windows and transfer ownership of university radio stations to Iowa Public Radio.

A new UI Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center would improve research productivity for outcomes in underserved rural populations. CREDIT UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

The University of Iowa will focus clinical research efforts on intellectual and developmental disabilities in a new research center.

A proposal was approved Wednesday by the Iowa Board of Regents to combine research efforts “under one umbrella” to improve research productivity and focus on outcomes for underserved rural populations. The center was awarded a $6.2 million P50 Center Grant through the National Institutes of Health, according to the meeting agenda.

“Although the University of Iowa has always provided an academic platform for studying disabilities over past decades, no central entity has existed to bring together the researchers on the UI campus,” said Dr. Lois Geist, professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, in a statement on Wednesday.

The state Board of Regents also approved the construction of a new Iowa Wrestling Training Facility, which will support the men’s and the recently announced women’s wrestling teams, and the State Hygienic Laboratory addition.

Funded by UI athletic department gifts, the wrestling facility will cost approximately $26 million. A new state hygienic laboratory has a $10 million price tag.

The $9.2 million expansion of the State Hygienic Lab will construct a new level 3 biosafety lab by June 2023 to utilize the funding. The project will be an addition to the east end of the existing facility and will be entirely funded by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. if completed on time.

The University of Iowa will also need to replace bridge windows in the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. These windows will require a $3.6 million investment, said Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations. Construction will begin September 2022 and be completed by June 2023.

A construction manager will be employed to determine if more windows will need replaced.

A possible transfer of ownership of network radio stations from regent university control to Iowa Public Radio (IPR) was also approved.

“For IPR, it would allow them to consolidate the radio groups into a single community license, which will generate opportunities for increased operational efficiencies and enable them to further leverage their already successful fundraising capabilities,” said Aimee Claeys, board counsel. “From a university perspective, this would enable universities to redirect resources to other major institutional initiatives.”

Approximately 14.65 acres of property owned by the University of Iowa, that includes three towers and a support structure, will be transferred, according to agenda documents.

This trend of consolidating previously owned university radio stations into a “new and better model” is happening around the country, said Ms. Claeys.

IPR will now take this issue to their board for action. If all parties agree to a deal, a request will be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission for regulatory approval. FCC approval would be expected to take up to three to six months.