Archive for Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heard on the Hill: KU Cancer Center effort could be affected by NIH budget; federal spending bill affects other programs, too; KU Student Senate voting starts today

April 13, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• Here’s one of the interesting points I pulled from the letter that the KU Cancer Center’s external advisory board sent to the KU Cancer Center last week.

KU is pursuing designation as a National Cancer Institute, which would mean an economic boon for the state and region in addition to much better cancer care for patients.

First, as has been reported, the big news is that the external advisory board is pleased with KU’s progress and gave its unanimous recommendation that the center move forward with its application on schedule, after it expressed a few doubts last year.

But here’s a direct quote from the letter.

“The (external board) unanimously agrees that you should proceed with your plans to submit (an application) to the NCI this fall despite the many uncertainties related to the budget for the National Cancer Institute, and its ability to designate new cancer centers,” wrote George Weiner, director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa.

I’ve spoken with Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center many times in the past, and he’s referenced this budget issue before.

The haranguing related to the federal budget clearly has an impact on designation. If Congress doesn’t have a budget by May or June of 2012, then Jensen has told me that will delay the notification as to whether KU has received designation.

While the details related to last Friday’s budget deal are obviously still being sorted out, some sources are reporting NIH took a big hit, and that seems like it would mean less money to spend on the NCI and its cancer centers.

I’m not up on the culture in Washington or how the NIH and NCI absorbs cuts to their budgets, but it’s something I’ll be looking more into in the coming days.

• The cuts to the NCI obviously would reach further than the cancer initiative at KU, as many KU entities are always looking for more NIH grant funding.

As it turns out, several research granting entities could be affected by the $40 billion cuts announced in the compromise bill that prevented a government shutdown, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Tuesday.

It reported a $260 million cut for NIH, and $53 million in cuts for the National Science Foundation.

However, some cuts were reversed, the Chronicle reported, including an $845 cut to the maximum Pell Grant amount. Maximum Pell Grant awards will stay the same under the compromise bill that will fund the government through the end of September. It is expected to be approved this week.

Lots of other cuts are detailed in the Chronicle’s story, and it will be interesting to see how these things actions are felt at KU and at other institutions around the country.

If there are cuts you’re worried about in particular, let me know.

• And finally, here’s a quick reminder that Student Senate elections start today.

This year’s presidential election is between KUnited candidate Libby Johnson, a senior from Lawrence, and Renew KU candidate Casey Briner, a junior from Flower Mound, Texas.

Turnout in past elections has been extremely low, but that doesn’t stop the coalitions from chalking all over campus and working tables to persuade students to vote for their side.

You vote using your Kyou Portal, and it’s pretty simple, from what I’ve been told.

Voting is open both today and Thursday, but if you can’t figure it out, there are some helpful folks at tables at the Kansas Union, Mrs. E’s cafeteria and Wescoe Beach who can help you through it.

Voting is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Here’s the complete ballot.

• I don’t need your vote — just a tip for Heard on the Hill. Keep sending them to


LJD230 7 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Hyland

I want very much for KU to be designated as a NCI Cancer Center. Not only because of the benefit it will bring to patients but also for the residual effect it may have it raising KU's embarassing ranking among American medical schools.

ahyland 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks! I'll hopefully be talking to some smarter people than me about this topic very soon, but wanted to start a conversation about it at least.

Andy Hyland

EJ Mulligan 7 years, 1 month ago

Onto other (much less pressing) matters -- is the steam whistle at KU broken again? Or has the funding run out again? I haven't heard it this week.

ahyland 7 years, 1 month ago

It's down for maintenance — but it will be back! I'll roust up some details and will include in a future post.

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