Research at UIC finds the answers that transform lives
Whether it’s discovering how early drinking affects the brain into adulthood, creating functional artificial leaves or determining why intermittent fasting works to lose weight, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers improve the health and well-being of communities both urban and rural, local and global.
By almost every measure, UIC is a key driver in the economic vitality of the city and the state.
In fiscal year 2017, UIC added $7.6 billion to the Illinois economy. While most of the impact is due to increased educational attainment by alumni, UIC also leaves its mark on the city and state as the second largest university employer in Chicago, by providing charity health care to under-served populations, and by increasing the amount of royalties earned on UIC-created inventions.
UIC strives to expand its impact by supporting and sustaining innovation on campus. Via the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund Proof of Concept Awards, the Chancellor’s Translational Research Initiative, UIC provides inventors and innovators with the funding and the structure to help drive ideas forward that will have a positive impact on our community, our city, our state, and our world.
Through the Discovery Partners Institute, UIC researchers work on public-private partnerships focused on driving technology-based economic growth in Illinois.
UIC also serves as a hub in the Illinois Innovation Network, a group of public universities and community colleges that work together to improve the state’s economy through innovation, research, and education. In this coalition, the university’s role is focused on computing, drug discovery, and entrepreneurship. The UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford intends to establish the Illinois Rural Hub to create public-private partnerships for cutting-edge educational programs, clinical services, and innovative research that will spur economic development in Rockford and rural communities across the state.
The Health, Technology, Innovation (HTI) laboratory and office space in the Illinois Medical District near UIC also brings scientists, clinicians, engineers, and industry together for an interdisciplinary approach to drug, diagnostic, device, and IT development.
Impact on health and wellness
Research carried out by UIC scientists has led to improvements in health and well-being. Translating research into action is part of UIC’s legacy.
HIV medication adherence is crucial for reducing viral load and lessening the risk that the virus will be passed to another person. But consistent adherence can be difficult, which is why researchers at UIC have developed an avatar-based app, with built in medication reminders and educational modules, that functions in the privacy of a user’s own phone.
Biopsies can be frightening and painful, but one day they may be performed with a simple blood tests thanks to a new microfluidics device that can separate cancer cells from blood. The device has the potential to enable faster cancer diagnoses and reduce stress for patients.
Why do Hispanic people tend to live longer even though they carry a higher burden of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes compared to other populations? Getting to the bottom of the so-called “Hispanic paradox” is what researchers in the Institute for Minority Health Research hope to achieve with funding from the NIH for the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos- the largest-ever study of this population. UIC os one of four field centers. The others are in San Diego, the Bronx and Miami.
Impact on policy
Research conducted at UIC has a strong and enduring influence on the development of public health and social policies that improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.
Investigators in UIC’s Institute for Health Research and Policy and Jane Addams College of Social Work have:
- changed the way we eat
- focused attention on the impact of incarceration on children and families
- alerted policy makers to the need for regulations on e-cigarettes to prevent their sale to children
- improved access to programs that keep seniors fit, strong, independent and out of hospitals.
From informing federal nutrition and wellness policies to restrict the availability of high-sugar, high-calorie snacks and beverages in schools, to investigating how raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21 could cut down on the number of new teen and young adult smokers, researchers at UIC’s Institute for Health Research and Policy provide the insights, data and analysis sought by national and local policy makers to address complex public health issues.
Studies conducted by faculty in UIC’s Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research have led to improvements in access to mental health services for incarcerated youth, given seniors a framework for choosing assisted living facilities, and supported mothers with substance abuse to better parent their children.
Inventor of the Year
Not many people outside of emergency responders know that cooling the body by just a few degrees can reduce the risk of long-term heart and neurological effects and improve the chances of survival for cardiac arrest. Recent UIC Inventor of the Year Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek, professor and head of emergency medicine, is investigating a biological agent that mimics the effects of cooling on the body and that can be delivered intravenously.
Advancing scientific knowledge
At UIC, researchers are at the forefront of scientific and medical advancement, grappling with issues that affect our view of the universe. UIC’s location in the heart of Chicago gives faculty and students the unique opportunity to collaborate with national laboratories, such as Argonne and Fermilab, and other top research universities.
Particle physicists at UIC work with Fermilab, the country’s premier particle physics laboratory, as part of the team that leads U.S. participation in analysis of experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. Physicists at UIC shared in the discovery of the Higgs boson.
UIC is a partner in a federally funded energy research center that will combine the R&D firepower of five Department of Energy national laboratories, five universities and four private firms in a quest to achieve revolutionary advances in battery performance. The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by Argonne and directed by UIC physics professor George Crabtree, will receive up to $120 million in funding over five years.