In response to decreasing federal research funding, the University of Chicago has entered a core research facilities partnership with Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The agreement, which allows researchers from each of the three universities to share research equipment, builds on a 2006 research partnership between the three universities known as the Chicago Biomedical Consortium.
Donald H. Levy, vice president for research and for national laboratories at UChicago, explained that the University’s reason for entering the agreement was to increase research efficiency, especially in the face of decreasing public research funding.
“You’d always like to be more efficient, you’d always like to make more use of your money, and as you get squeezed by having less money, of course you’re going to work a little bit harder at it,” he said.
Levy also stated the agreement will increase the use of various expensive research instruments, which could improve the quality of research by preventing recourse to cheaper alternatives.
“Having an instrument that is used 24 hours a day rather than 24 hours a month, that’s obviously a good thing. Trying to force researchers to do things in a certain way because it’s a cheaper way is, on the whole, not a good thing,” he said.
As a University press release described the partnership, “There is no extra fee now to use each other’s fancy instruments.”
The exchange has already begun with several collaborative experiments, including a UChicago biochemist who used a facility at Northwestern to study new cancer therapies.