FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Monday a bill that will provide the University of Kentucky with $132.5 million in state bonds for a six-story medical research center.
"This projects represents the potential to improve the lives of so many, both within Kentucky, where our health outcomes are so poor, and beyond," Beshear said at a Capitol news conference with several legislators and Lisa Cassis, UK's vice president of research.
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto was not able to attend because of a stomach virus.
House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, authorizes spending $5.6 million on debt payments for the bonds this year and $11 million in subsequent years.
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UK will provide another $132.5 million for the project through research contracts and private donations.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the project is personal to him because he has had many relatives and friends who were treated at UK for cancer.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the ramifications of the center are "wide-ranging."
Stumbo also apologized to Capilouto, saying he initially thought Capilouto was "not up for the job" to be UK president but that Capilouto has proved him wrong.
The center, which would house researchers from several disciplines, is to be built on UK's campus near South Limestone and Virginia Avenue.
UK plans to begin construction by the end of the year.
The health challenges those researchers are to address include cancer, heart and pulmonary disease, stroke and other preventable illnesses.