Regents panel backs new UI genetics institute

Officials are seeking approval of the Iowa Institute of Human Genetics

CEDAR FALLS ó Several new academic programs at the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University and a new institute on human genetics at the University of Iowa were recommended for approval by a state Board of Regents committee Thursday.

The boardís education and student affairs committee met Thursday in Cedar Falls and forwarded the proposals to the full board, which meets Friday at UNI.

UI officials are seeking approval of the Iowa Institute of Human Genetics within the Carver College of Medicine.

The institute will promote basic clinical care, research and education focused on the medical and scientific significance of variation in the human genome. The institute also will serve as a statewide resource for outreach about issues related to understanding human DNA sequence variation, officials said.

The Carver College of Medicine has committed $5 million from the Helen Johnson Endowment to support the institute.

The revenue generated by clinical and laboratory activities, such as whole exome sequencing, in addition to college support, is anticipated to provide sufficient revenue to cover the expenses of the proposed institute, officials said.

The institute is expected to be self-sufficient and able to function independently of the college by year six. It is expected to employ 24 people, including a director, genetic counselors, research specialists and DNA employees.

The committee also recommended for approval some program additions at UNI and ISU.

The additions at UNI include a bachelor of arts in interactive digital studies; a bachelor of arts in graphic design; and a masterís of arts in teaching English in secondary schools. The programs in graphic design and teaching English in secondary schools are not new, but are being expanded to standalone degrees from current track offerings embedded in other programs, UNI Provost Gloria Gibson said.

The committee also recommended program additions at ISU, including a masterís degree in engineering management, a masterís degree in urban design and a masterís of design in sustainable environments.

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