Chicago Biomedical Consortium: A Three-University Hub of Research

By Leslie Mertz

NOTE: This is an overview of the entire article, which appeared in the July 2014 issue of IEEE Pulse magazine.
Click here to read the entire article.

Biomedical Engineering is a discipline which by its very nature emphasizes cooperative work. A new enterprise of biomedical research in Chicago called the Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC) is bringing that spirit to academic institutions. The joint enterprise consists of leading faculty members from Chicago’s three major research universities – Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The CBC’s origins can be traced back to a 2001 challenge issued by philanthropist Dan Searle. By 2006, extensive brainstorming led to a planning grant and demonstration project that ultimately scored a generous infusion of monies from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.

According to the CBC website, the mission of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium is “to stimulate collaboration among scientists at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago that will transform research at the frontiers of biomedicine.”

“Before the initiative came into being, if you were an investigator at Northwestern and wanted to use the next-generation sequencing facility at the University of Chicago, for instance, you would have to pay what it costs to run the samples and do the experiment, and you’d also have to pay the overhead/facilities-and-administration additional charges which can tack on an additional 50 percent. Now, those extra charges have been waived,” says Kathryn C. Stallcup, Ph.D., executive director of the CBC.

Since its inception, the CBC has provided about $30 million in grants to some 100 research groups. Those groups have not only produced more than 800 peer-reviewed papers, but have generated an additional $275 million in federal and non-CBC funding. Additionally, the consortium had supported more than three dozen outstanding students as CBC scholars.

More information about the Chicago Biomedical Consortium and the varied research projects it has supported is available on the CBC website.


Leslie Mertz ( is a freelance science, medical, and technical writer, author, and educator living in northern Michigan.