Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Grant will aid illness research

An article in Wednesday’s paper should have said additional money to the Chicago Biomedical Consortium will come from The Searle Funds.The Daily regrets this error.

Northwestern, in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago, will receive $25 million over the next five years from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust as part of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium. Scientists established this organization between the three schools in 2002 to advance collaborative and interdisciplinary biomedical research.

The CBC will use the money from the Searle Funds to focus on systems biology, the study of protein networks that can speed discoveries on terminal diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.


Quick facts:

  • Northwestern, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago make up the Chicago Biomedical Consortium.
  • The group will use the $25 million for research to speed discoveries on terminal illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • The schools will receive the money over the next five years.

According to a statement NU will release today, The Chicago Community Trust could provide an additional $25 million for a five-year extension of the program, bringing the group $50 million in 10 years.

“This is a commitment from The Searle Funds that goes beyond buying one scientific instrument or one building,” said Megan Fellman, NU university relations liaison for the CBC. “Scientific collaborations happen often with people across the world, but having an opportunity to learn together in the same metro area is actually very unique.”

UIC’s CBC liaison, Brenda Russell, who also is a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Illinois at Chicago said the biomedical research community in Chicago normally doesn’t get the same federal attention generated by East and West Coast institutions.

“If you add up all of the federal contracts that come into these three universities, it seems we should be getting more of the large (National Institute of Health) roadmap grants, but we’re not – they go to the coasts,” Russell said. “We feel that by better incorporation and a multi-institutional approach we will be more competitive against other areas of the country for federal dollars and larger grants.”

Russell added that the grant will allow more creative, experimental research than a federal grant from the NIH would.

“A lot of NIH grants go to people who are absolutely sure their experiments will work – it’s not cutting edge anymore,” she said. “This is a lot of money for high-risk, exciting new things.”

Russell said no specific protein experiments have been researched but that “they’re going to have impacts on all of the major diseases.”

The center will impact the three Chicago-area campus communities as well as the national biomedical research community, said NU’s CBC liaison, Richard I. Morimoto, who serves as the Bill and Gayle Cook Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology. NU students will be able to take courses in the biomedical sciences at University of Chicago and UIC through the consortium.

“The idea that we can now create common courses, create workshops and bring students together for a new form of collaboration and interaction is really something new,” Morimoto said. “I have every expectation that the faculty of each of the schools will be putting forth programs and creating a new curriculum so that students at all three schools can study and research together.”

The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust is named after John G. Searle, president of G.D. Searle pharmaceutical company that launched the first oral contraceptive drug in 1957. Searle served as president of the NU Board of Trustees from 1964 to 1971. There has been a Searle descendant on the Board of Trustees ever since. The Frances Searle Building on the Evanston campus was named after Searle’s wife.

Reach Amanda Palleschi at [email protected].

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Grant will aid illness research