September 2, 2016

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins visit WL campus

Phillip Low Philip Low (center), the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and director of the Purdue Center for Drug Discovery, speaks with NIH director Francis Collins during a tour of the drug discovery facility. (Purdue University photo/Vincent Walter) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) joined Purdue President Mitch Daniels in welcoming Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, to the West Lafayette campus on Thursday (Sept. 1).

During the visit, they were briefed on some of the life-changing research at Purdue, toured research laboratories and the Institute for Drug Discovery, and heard an update on Zika research from Richard Kuhn, one of the leaders of the Zika research team, director of the Purdue Institute for Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease (PI4D), and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Collins also met with students, who represent the next generation of scientists and researchers.

“It was exciting to see some of the remarkable work that NIH supports at Purdue and to sense the enthusiasm of the many young scientists I had the pleasure of meeting,” Collins said. “Americans can have great confidence that NIH-funded scientists at Purdue are working hard to develop new medical breakthroughs to improve health and fight disease.”

NIH director Francis Collins NIH director Francis Collins on Thursday (Sept. 1) took part in a discussion with students during his visit to the Purdue campus. (Purdue University photo/Vincent Walter) Download image

Donnelly invited Collins to visit the University to see the work Purdue has committed to in the life sciences and its interdisciplinary approach to research. Purdue has committed more than $250 million to advancing life sciences over the next five years as a way to improve the quality of life for Hoosiers and to support Indiana's growing life sciences sector. The visit was co-hosted by Discovery Park and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

“We are very grateful to Sen. Donnelly for arranging this important visit,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “Dr. Collins’ long tenure has come at an important time for the NIH, and his strong leadership has been critical in optimizing resources to advance the frontiers of scientific research.”

Donnelly said, “It was important for me to invite Director Collins to visit Purdue, so he could see the incredible work being done by Hoosier students and researchers who are at the forefront of life-saving scientific innovation and discovery. There is exciting progress happening here, including a breakthrough to better understand the Zika virus and other discoveries. Purdue is an example of how smart, effective investments by the National Institutes of Health play a role in helping us better understand diseases and find new treatments and cures that can make a difference for Hoosiers and Americans across the country.”

NIH visit (From left) Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, chief scientist and executive director of Discovery Park; U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly; Purdue President Mitch Daniels; and Michael Rossmann, Purdue’s Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, on Thursday (Sept. 1) discuss the university’s research during a tour of Hockmeyer Hall of Structural Biology. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood) Download image

In the 2015 fiscal year, Indiana researchers won $214.5 million in NIH awards, supporting more than 3,900 jobs.

Collins is a physician-geneticist known for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of human DNA. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008.

Before becoming director at NIH, he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009.

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325, mhuckaby@purdue.ed

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