LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In the last few years, the downtown Las Vegas medical district has added UNLV’s medical school to a pair of the valley’s largest hospitals. But, what’s missing? City leaders wanted to find out. 

It sprouted up in the shadow of Downtown. City Councilman Brian Knudsen sees the Medical District as key to an urban core. 

“So much is missing,” Knudsen said. “There’s a lot of great physicians here, there’s a lot of great nurses here.  But we need integrated systems to improve access for every Southern NV resident.” 

So, what’s next? City staff recently put together a report to get some answers. The title of the report gives it away: Research laboratory space is critical. 

“We need the space so that we can hire and recruit the best scientists to do research that impacts our community,” Dr. Marc Kahn, UNLV Medical School Dean, said.

The city’s report shows Nevada is way behind its neighbors in bio-research facilities. In strictly dollars and cents, the state got around $41 million in National Institutes of Health funding in 2019. Utah and Arizona were more than $200 million. 

That means Las Vegas loses out on top-end research and patients leave town to get that crucial care. 

“Laboratories that allow us to do the types of testing that are important as we develop our programs,” Kahn said.  

“Building out public health laboratory space, bio-health research space is going to increase the opportunity for Southern Nevadans to go to school and get a good paying job,” Knudsen said.  

The report suggests city investment in bringing major research to Las Vegas and creating room for it. Some of that work has already started. Discussions are underway on construction and outreach. 

Essentially, it’s research into research. Those in the medical district hope to discover a pipeline of talent and care. 

Any construction on research lab space downtown is a few years away.