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Professor Hagen goes to Washington: Chemist to talk value of federal funding with lawmakers

November 14, 2011
Timothy Hagen

Timothy Hagen

NIU chemistry professor Timothy Hagen will talk about the importance of federal funding for research universities and economic development during a luncheon panel discussion Tuesday in front of an audience of Washington, D.C., movers and shakers.

The luncheon at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center is part of a full day of events planned for Illinois Research, Development and Innovation Day. Also on tap is an evening reception where Illinois universities, federal laboratories and businesses will showcase their ongoing research projects.

NIU Vice President for Research Lisa Freeman and legislative liaison Lori Clark also will be touting the university’s research efforts during the Capitol Hill events, which will be attended by Illinois congressmen and their staff members.

“In these challenging economic times, when it is clear that there are difficult budget issues, it is important to remind our representatives and the public at large that federally funded research at universities and federal laboratories helps cure disease, increase energy efficiency and contribute solutions to significant societal problems,” Freeman said.

“Funding for research also keeps our nation competitive in the global economy,” she added. “As a regional public university serving a diverse student population, NIU plays a critical role in teaching the next generation of leaders about innovation and about the creation and integration of new knowledge.”

Lisa Freeman and Lori Clark

Lisa Freeman and Lori Clark

Freeman asked Hagen to participate in the panel discussion because he has a diverse set of experiences, both in private industry and academia.

Hagen, who joined the NIU faculty in 2010, previously worked for Pfizer Inc., as well as a startup biotech company.

He currently consults with private industry and collaborates with other universities and federal laboratories, conducting research on the development of enzyme inhibitors for potential use in fighting bacterial diseases, including MRSA infection and biological warfare agents such as anthrax. Enzyme inhibitors form the basis for many drugs.

“Tim Hagen is well acquainted with all aspects of the research and development process required to take a new drug from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside,” Freeman said. “He is a creative and productive chemist and an excellent communicator with an impressive record of both publications and patents. Tim appreciates the power of public-private partnerships and understands the role of university-based research in drug development.”

Hagen said he’ll talk about his own research experiences and collaborations, including with Argonne National Laboratory. Its Advanced Photon Source research facility produces the most powerful X-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere, able to capture images at the nanoscale, including crystallized enzyme structures necessary for Hagen’s research.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this work without the federal funding,” he said.

“I hope to show how the funding drives the science and creates jobs,” he added. “I’ve seen how university research innovations can become the basis for small startups or be used in large companies.”

Illinois Research, Development and Innovation Day is sponsored by the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC), the only organization representing the full range of science and technology activity in Illinois.

The day’s events are intended to illustrate the value of work being performed in Illinois to an audience that influences federal budget and policy activity. Participants will showcase the collective strengths, present research outcomes and discuss the disruptions and related challenges resulting from the uncertainty surrounding the federal budget.

Other institutions that will be represented include Argonne, Fermilab, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, the Illinois Institute of Technology and the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research.