Gov. Bob Wise today announced a $24.4 million funding package that will allow West Virginia University to complete a 12-year research expansion plan in as little as half that time. The facilities will enable the University to add 600 new health sciences research positions over the next 6 to 8 years.

This is an investment in a future that will benefit every West Virginian,Wise said.We benefit from the jobs WVU will create. We benefit from the medical research that will make our lives better. And we benefit from the new private enterprises that will sprout in West Virginia to support this research enterprise.

The funds will build new laboratories at the University’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center and new neurosciences laboratories. It also will create research space in the new Health Sciences Library.

Wise brought together 3 state development agencies to create the funding package. The Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council will provide $9.4 million, the Economic Development Authority $9 million and the West Virginia Housing Development Fund $6 million. Up to $3 million of the Infrastructure Council allocation will be forgiven if WVU meets its job creation target.

Governor Wise has been an advocate for higher education, and particularly for research, throughout his public life,said WVU President David C. Hardesty, Jr.The leadership he has shown in putting together and delivering this unprecedented state commitment to research means that his legacy as a builder will long outlast his term in office.

WVU has developed a 12-year plan to develop strong research capabilities in a number of focused areas of health and biosciences, including neurosciences, cancer and heart disease. The funds provided by Wise will allow the university to speed the recruitment of top researchers and complete most of its research facilities in 6 to 8 years.

With this up-front financing, we can build facilities that will be among the most advanced at any health sciences center or research institute in the country,said Robert M. D’Alessandri, M.D., WVU vice president for health sciences.That will attract top researchers, and they will bring an influx of Federal and private research funding to WVU .

WVU ’s health sciences research plan envisions a minimum of 600and as many as 850new research-related jobs on campus by the end of the decade. Another 500 jobs will be created in the North Central region of the state as a result of indirect effects on the economyan annual payroll boost to the region of $55 million.

The funds will be repaid to the agencies by WVU over a 15- to 17-year term, and will carry interest rates of 3 to 5.3 percent. Payments will be made from the university’s share of research grant funding.