Sen. Rob Portman said he is impressed with Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown and the people it attracts to Northeastern Ohio.
"The work your students will do will be groundbreaking," said the Cincinnati-area Republican, who visited the medical campus as part of a tour of the region Friday.
Earlier in the day, Portman attended a liquid crystal technology roundtable hosted at AlphaMicron in Kent and visited Dearing Compressor & Pump Co. in Youngstown.
But he decided to fulfill a long held promise to see the NEOMED campus in person after Dr. Jay Gershen, president of NEOMED, encouraged him repeatedly to do so. Portman said his college roommate, Dr. Jeffrey Susman, medical dean at NEOMED, also had some influence in his decision to visit the campus.
He said he was impressed to hear about Cleveland State University students, who will attend the university next year, plans to expand the campus to prepare for their arrival, and the recently opened Bio-Med Science Academy. The senator said his own daughter has expressed interest in a career in medicine or engineering.
"To encourage kids to become excited about medicine is really wonderful," he said.
During his whirlwind tour of the campus, Portman viewed a model of the campus as it will look after its $170 million expansion, and greeted visitors at a reception. On display was a model of the first-ever student housing project being constructed on the campus.
Gershen told Portman that the expansions under construction will double the size of the campus. The Research and Graduate Education building, which will house research activities and the College of Graduate Studies, is expected to open by summer and the residential housing village, the first student housing in the university's history, is expected to open in the fall.
Also under construction is the health and wellness center. Though NEOMED partners with numerous hospitals, the offices in the wellness center will be the first clinical offices to be operated by NEOMED.
The expansion also will provide expanded space for the Bio-Med Academy, he said, and the hope is that many of these students will pursue careers in medicine and pharmacy.
"This is our pipeline," he said.
Several area officials were on hand to welcome the senator, including State Sen. John Eklund, and Gershen thanked both senators for their support of NEOMED in their legislatures.
"Your investment is paying off in a very positive way," he said.
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