MU asks state for new grant

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COLUMBIA - MU is asking the state for $10 million in funding in order to build a new, two-story specialized training and education facility. 

State legislators visited MU's Nuclear Reaction Center (MURR) in order to get a better understanding of how MU would use the appropriations. Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, introduced this request to his fellow representatives. He said the center would serve three main purposes:

  • It would help the center make more nuclear medication, used by cancer patients. This medication has a short shelf-life, so an increase of efficiency is crucial. 
  • The facility would attract private pharmaceutical companies to bring jobs to the center.
  • Those jobs would (potentially) be filled by MU graduates that already do their research at the facility. 

Ken Brooks, an associate director at MURR, said the funding would make it easier to provide cancer patients with the medication they need. 

"The nuclear medicine treatments that are available for patients today, and save lives today, relied on vision by others in the past... we're enjoying those benefits today, and there's a brighter future for tomorrow if we can just get this investment," Brooks said.

Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Cape Girardeau, said she is skeptical about the state's ability to fund such a project. 

"I'm gonna be honest, I don't know how much money is possible, because of the roads and bridges in this state right now. The taxpayers have no appetite for tax increases," Lichtenegger said. 

MURR is the largest university-run nuclear reaction center in the country. It provides nuclear medication to millions of patients across the U.S. MURR officials said 85 percent of the center's expenses are self-funded, with the rest covered by the university. 

Litchtenegger said while the project may not receive full funding, it is a worthy cause.

"The reason that this is so important is the fact that they are saving lives right here in this building with the products that they are providing," she said. 

If the funding is approved, the new facility is projected to be completed sometime in 2018.