WASHINGTON – A research consortium focused on drug addiction and opioid abuse, cyber-security, health care, and job creation among area veterans was formed late last month, according to a press release.

West Virginia U.S. House Rep.David B. McKinley
West Virginia U.S. House Rep.David B. McKinley

In what West Virginia's 1st Congressional Representative says he hopes will encourage research and attract investors, a Memorandum of Understanding to form the Ohio Valley Research Consortium was signed Monday, Jan. 24. Republican West Virginia U.S. House Rep. David B. McKinley and representatives from eight universities and colleges in the Ohio Valley gathered at Wheeling Jesuit University to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, according to a press release issued by McKinley's office.

The Memorandum of Understanding officially formed the Ohio Valley Research Consortium, which is part of McKinley’s efforts to diversify West Virginia’s economy through investment and research. The signing and the official establishment of the Ohio Valley Research Consortium is great news for the area, McKinley was quoted in the press release.

 "Encouraging research and attracting investment will not only strengthen the capabilities of each participating school, but by working together, we can find ways to tackle some of our most pressing issues from access to clean water and affordable health care, to strengthening our cyber security and preventing further substance abuse," McKinley said.

The regional collaboration is key to the Ohio Valley's future, West Liberty University President Steve Greiner was quoted as saying in the press release. "The Ohio Valley Research Consortium is one example of working together to foster economic growth and community development," Greiner said.

Bethany College President Tamara Nichols Rodenberg, also present at the gathering and one of the Memorandum of Understanding's signatories, was quoted in the press release.

"Collaborative efforts, such as this one, will only strengthen our joint commitment to healthy communities, quality research, creative solutions and ultimately a stronger presence for transformation across the region," she said.

The consortium now hopes to attract federal grants and other forms of funding, an application for National Science Foundation Smart & Connected Communities grant next month. The grant would fund research and other related activities that integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives and undertake meaningful community engagement, including evaluation plans for assessing activities and outcomes, according to the National Science Foundation's website.

"We have created a unique opportunity to increase federal research dollars to the Ohio Valley and I look forward to working with each member of the Consortium to accomplish our goals," McKinley said.

McKinley has represented West Virginia's 1st Congressional District since he defeated Democrat State Sen. Mike Oliverio in 2010 to take the seat that had been held by longtime Democrat U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan. Earlier in January, McKinley was named vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Environment.

In September, McKinley announced a $1.8 million Department of Health and Human Services grant for West Virginia University's School of Medicine for pediatric research.

West Virginia consortium partners in Wheeling were from the state's institutions, Bethany College, West Liberty University, West Virginia Northern Community College and Wheeling Jesuit University. Ohio consortium partners are Belmont College, Eastern Gateway Community College, Franciscan University of Steubenville and Ohio University Eastern (St. Clairsville Campus).

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