FOR RELEASE: July 19, 2019

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University of Providence has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in connection with a new partnership with the McLaughlin Research Institute (MRI)

The goal of the partnership is to “establish a collaborative agreement between UP and MRI to work synergistically for the benefit of both institutions. The complimentary nature of these organizations will allow for significant enhancement of science-based educational and research opportunities available in the Great Falls region and beyond.”

UP President Anthony Aretz said that he sees this arrangement benefiting not only both organizations, but Great Falls and Montana as well.

“This is a unique opportunity to partner with an internationally prominent biomedical research institution that will provide distinctive internship and research opportunities for our faculty and students,” Aretz said. “Not only that, there also are promising possibilities to offer programs to students locally and around the state who are attending our public and private primary and secondary schools.”

MRI Director, Michael Kavanaugh, notes that the two institutions share a core commitment to advance human health. “By leveraging resources in biomedical research and clinical health education, we will be able to do more to advance the work needed to find cures for diseases and provide educational and research opportunities for students in Montana.”

Under the terms of the agreement, MRI will provide teaching lab space for new UP health education programs. In addition, the agreement will foster collaborations between faculty from both institutions to develop new grants and initiatives for research and STEM education. It will also provide efficiencies as each institution seeks to expand and adapt to rapid advances in the field of health and biomedical research.

The length of the current agreement is one year, but will be reviewed annually and may be extended into additional one-year terms if both organizations see fit.

Dr. Matthew Redinger, Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs at UP, echoed President Aretz, adding that he’s especially excited about the collaborative nature of the agreement and how it will benefit students.

“The faculty and staff of the University of Providence, particularly the Sciences faculty, are very enthusiastic about the partnership between UP and MRI, and see tremendous opportunities for creative synergies in this evolving relationship,” he said. “The chance to have our students working in state-of-the-art labs at MRI as part of their undergraduate education will provide our students with a significant leg-up. Moreover, the opportunity to collaborate on grants with MRI has the promise to significantly broaden the reach of the university as it works to build and maintain transformative student experiences today and, in the years, to come.”

Randy Gray, Chair of MRI’s Board, said there will be many facets to the agreement that will benefit MRI as well, including boosting its educational outreach and new clinical initiatives, along with other unique aspects.

Gray added that Dr. Lee Hood, a native of Shelby, MT, is a Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer with Providence St. Joseph Health, and also serves on McLaughlin’s Scientific Advisory Committee. Kavanaugh called Hood a pioneering figure in the field of biotechnology and its applications to human health. He said that Dr. Hood was a strong proponent of the strategic partnership between the two institutions.

The McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences was founded in Great Falls in 1954. It is an independent non-profit institute focused on finding cures for diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders. MRI’s genetically engineered mouse models for human disease are widely used by academic and pharma partners – nationally and internationally – for developing and testing new therapies.

The University of Providence is a private, Catholic university incorporated under the laws of the State of Montana. The University has been empowered to grant diplomas, confer academic honors, and collegiate degrees since 1932. The University is sponsored by the Sisters of Providence (Providence St. Joseph Health) and operates within the jurisdiction of the Catholic bishop of Great Falls-Billings. Though the university has changed names throughout the decades, its mission is the same today as it was in 1932.