U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky visited the Indiana University School of Medicine Northwest on Tuesday to view research equipment bought with about $500,000 in federal funding he secured to help stimulate biomedical research in the region.
"What I appreciated most was the use it was being put to," Visclosky, D-Merrillville, said after the tour. "They've done a terrific job here at the school."
The school received the money from the Health Resources and Services Administration last fall after Visclosky obtained funding through a 2008 appropriations bill.
"My mandate to the (school's) committee was to find the equipment the most people could use that would result in the most medical discoveries," said Pat Bankston, assistant dean and director of the IUN medical school.
Bankston said the equipment is used by hundreds of undergraduate students and about 20 faculty members who say it helps increase their chances of receiving grant money.
"You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but if you don't have the equipment it doesn't matter," Bankston said.
During Visclosky's visit, medical faculty demonstrated the research equipment. One machine, which cost more than $100,000, allows faculty and students to view cell molecules. It's used in research that attracts about $700,000 a year in grants.
"If we want state-of-the-art work, we need state-of-the-art equipment," said faculty member Roman Dziarski. "We have to compete not only in the United States, but all over the world."
The medical school, currently a two-year IU satellite campus, is working to become a four-year program and is in the planning stages to build a teaching hospital. Visclosky said he will support the efforts by seeking federal dollars.
"It's my responsibility to fight for our fair share," he said. "I've always felt the university itself has not made a large enough commitment to the good work being done here."