Riley Hospital for Children to get new research space - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Riley Hospital for Children to get new research space

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US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Indiana's top children's hospital is getting new research space intended to move basic research more quickly into new treatments for ailing children.

A former research floor at Riley Hospital for Children will be renovated into research space to allow the Indianapolis hospital to conduct pediatric clinical trials.

The Indiana University School of Medicine is providing nearly $8.5 million in federal stimulus funding for the project.

Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the Riley grant during a Friday stop in Indianapolis. The grant is one of 146 federal awards totaling $1 billion for construction or upgrades of research space in 44 states. The grants are being used to construct, repair and renovate scientific research labs and other facilities crucial to biomedical and behavioral investigators.

IU President Michael McRobbie said the Riley project will allow researchers to conduct "path-breaking research" to help sick children. Dr. McRobbie showed Sebelius how the grant will be invested.

"This award will be used to transform a floor, where we've just been visiting, by creating patient consultation rooms," he said.

"It's going to be used to take an old area and convert it to a study unit where children can be involved in clinical trials," said Riley Dr. Francis Collins.

The project will bring together a range of existing pediatrics laboratory programs into a single core to create collaborative, quantitative phenotyping of diseases and treatments.

In making the award announcement, Sebelius called the Federal Health Care Reform Act the most state-friendly bill she has ever seen. The former two-term Kansas governor said the insurance expansion for children up to age 26 and the Medicaid coverage expansion, which is fully funded for the first three years and 90% funded thereafter, makes it doable for states.

"I don't know any other match program in existence now that has that kind of balance in it. In the meantime, the state saves, I would agree, billions and billions of dollars, now going for uncompensated care," said Sebelius.

Earlier this week, a state budget committee hearing heard testimony that the program will cost Indiana anywhere from $80-110 million over the next two years.

A total of $100 billion in federal money is being poured into science, innovation and technology through the Recovery Act to spur domestic job creation in emerging industries and to create a long-term foundation for economic growth.

Sebelius has also been critical of Indianapolis-based Wellpoint, accusing the company of rescinding health insurance for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Friday, she said she would continue to speak out against that practice, but not against particular companies. She praised Wellpoint for stepping up when it comes to insuring children up to the age of 26.

"Wellpoint was one of the first companies to step up and identify there was a gap between graduation and September 23, when this provision becomes law," she said.

The Secretary said her schedule prohibited a meeting with Wellpoint during this trip.

Recovery construction awards

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