JCERT Leadership Provides Historical Perspective and a Vision for the Future

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As Ed Eilert completes his eight-year term as chair of the JCERT Authority and hands the leadership reigns to Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach, the two recap the organization’s accomplishments to date and give a glimpse into future endeavors.

Reflecting on Accomplishments
Johnson County voters approved the 1/8-cent JCERT sales tax in 2008; funds were earmarked to advance academic, research and business endeavors at JCERT partner organizations, the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park; K-State Olathe and the University of Kansas Clinical Research Center in Fairway.

“Since its inception, the JCERT tax has generated more than $15 million annually,” Eilert said. “That funding is a big economic driver in Johnson County.”

Community Successes
The three partner organizations have achieved key milestones with JCERT support. A few examples:

KU Edwards Campus

  • Launched 11 degree programs and two certificates.
  • Constructed the 75,000-square-foot, $23 million BEST Building.
  • Awarded 130 students with $375,000 worth of JCERT scholarships.

K-State Olathe

  • Established a local campus featuring a $28 million, 108,000-square-foot facility that houses research labs, classrooms and event spaces.
  • Engaged more than 16,600 students from Johnson County’s six public school districts to help them enhance STEM skills.
  • Achieved a 37 percent growth in enrollment, in part because of its 11 graduate degrees and four graduate certificate offerings; student numbers for the spring 2017 academic semester broke the campus’ previous enrollment record set in fall 2016.

University of Kansas Clinical Research Center in Fairway

  • The University of Kansas Cancer Center achieved designation from the National Cancer Institute, created 2,088 jobs and had a regional economic impact of $557 million through 2013. It opened 122 new clinical trials with more than 1,400 patients participating, received $69.8 million in research funding and screened more than 2,240 people in prevention trials.
  • The University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center became a nationally designated center, receiving a five-year, $6 million grant from the National Institutes on Aging. Upon its designation renewal in 2016, the organization received an additional $9 million. It is one of only 31 nationally designated Alzheimer’s Disease centers.

Looking Ahead
Gerlach became JCERT chairman in January 2017. He inherits an organization that already has made remarkable impacts on Johnson County.

“The economic impact over JCERT’s first two decades is expected to be more than $1.4 billion,” Gerlach said. “JCERT has attracted – and will continue to attract – millions of dollars in private and public donations and research grants.”

Building on that momentum, numerous other JCERT-supported projects are in the works. These include:

  • K-State Olathe is working with KU Med, Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Olathe Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospitals to develop a first-of-its-kind international comparative medicine model, aggregating and sharing data from human and animal clinical trials.
  • The KU Cancer Center hopes to achieve its Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, the NCI’s highest designation, in May 2017. Of the 5,000 cancer treatment centers nationwide, only 1.3 percent have achieved this level of distinction.
  • K-State Olathe will host a May 2017 Research Showcase, a large-scale networking event that will highlight the breadth of research expertise and resources available for public and private corporate partners through Kansas State University.  
  • KU Edwards and K-State Olathe will continue to add academic and certificate programs designed to meet Kansas City-area workforce needs.

“When Johnson County citizens approved JCERT, they ensured the area’s leadership in the life sciences and underscored their commitment to higher education, economic development and skilled workforce development,” Gerlach said. “The community will continue to benefit from the economic return on that investment.”

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