issue Spring 2021

Innovation and Research Park Ribbon Cutting

Innovation and Research Park
Photo by Michael R. Schmidt

Resilience and optimism were dominant themes on Jan. 28 when the RFU community pushed through the COVID-19 pandemic to cut the ribbon — in appropriately virtual fashion — on the $50 million Innovation and Research Park.

Perhaps no one demonstrated perseverance more than U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Deerfield, who recorded remarks praising the IRP while in self-quarantine after testing positive for COVID.

“In spite of this pandemic, I think it’s important that we continue to look to our future, and that really is why we are gathered here today,” Rep. Schneider said during the event, which was streamed via RFU’s YouTube channel with pre-recorded comments from more than 20 speakers, including university leaders, government officials and executives from the bioscience and economic sectors.

The online celebration arrived one year after the IRP opened its doors and nine months after a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony was put on hold by the pandemic. Many speakers joined Rep. Schneider — who described the IRP’s 100,000 square feet of laboratory and office space as “a nexus of creativity and intelligence” — in stressing the critical importance of moving forward through challenging circumstances.

Here are just a few of the other testimonials offered by those who offered encouraging forecasts for the IRP’s future during a most unique ceremony.

“The IRP has been up and running through the darkest days of the COVID struggle, and now that we can see light on the horizon, our faith in medicine and science is being rewarded. The bright future of the post-COVID years is coming into view.” Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM, RFU president and CEO.

“Our Innovation and Research Park and Helix 51 incubator, the first of their kind in Lake County and north to Milwaukee, are evidence of RFU's commitment to improving wellness through biomedical advances. We’re building a research enterprise that will benefit our university, our communities and our region for generations to come.” Ronald Kaplan, PhD, RFU executive vice president for research.

“Growing our state’s life sciences is a key tenet of my administration’s five-year economic plan, and (the) Innovation and Research Park is the type of strategic investment that helps us reach the kind of future our state deserves. This project demonstrates that innovation is critical to our success as a state, and this past year in particular. We need more bold thinkers and more brave risk-takers to solve our toughest challenges.” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“I see the Innovation and Research Park as symbolizing the interface between past achievements and the next decades of scientific progress for Rosalind Franklin University.” K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP, former RFU president and CEO.

“Like other shining stars, the Innovation and Research Park is a beacon for the best and brightest scientists and thinkers in the fields of brain disease, genetic disease and lower limb-related disease research. It is the shining star of the year 2020, and an asset for the Lake County life-science and medical-innovation hub.” Kevin Byrne, chief executive officer, The University Financing Foundation.

“This is a moment of great pride for all of us on the board, who have teamed with our administration and strategic partners to advance this project from the drawing board to reality. We’re especially proud that we can (cut the ribbon) amid all the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, sending a message that the research mission endures no matter what challenges arise along the way.” Elizabeth Coulson, chair, RFU Board of Trustees.

The RFU community was honored to have the following speakers provide comments at the Innovation and Research Park's virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony:

Kevin Considine, president and CEO of Lake County Partners

Tom Denison, founder, SmartHealth Catalyzer

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Illinois

U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois

Marc J. Glucksman, PhD, director, Center for Proteomics and Molecular Therapeutics

Julian Gordon, PhD, co-founder and chief scientific officer, Inspirotec Inc.

Henry Gosebruch, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, AbbVie

Michelle L. Hastings, PhD, director, Center for Genetic Diseases

Johnny He, PhD, director, Center for Cancer Cell Biology, Immunology and Infection

State Sen. Julie Morrison, Deerfield

Shobha Parthasarathi, PhD, vice president of external innovation and new ventures, Xontogeny

Norbert Riedel, PhD, president and CEO, Aptinyx

Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr., City of North Chicago

Jeremy Amiel Rosenkranz, PhD, MS, director, Brain Science Institute

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, Deerfield

Jeff Sherman, MD, FACP, executive vice president and chief medical officer, Horizon Therapeutics

Grace E. Stutzmann, PhD, director, Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Therapeutics