A Utah educator has called on Congress to fund repairs and renovation of university biomedical research facilities, saying improvements are needed to correct "a seriously deteriorating research environment."

Chase N. Peterson, president of the University of Utah, testified Tuesday before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee on a bill authorizing funding for the National Institutes of Health.Peterson, speaking on behalf of the U. of U., the Association of American Universities and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, said biomedical research at universities "is hampered by aging and obsolete research facilities.

"At the University of Utah, for example, we are forced to spend nearly $300,000 annually to rent research space off campus for the School of Medicine, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Nursing and the Artificial Heart Research Laboratory," Peterson said. "We rent this space because we have been unable to attract capital funds to construct appropriate facilities on campus."

Peterson lauded an NIH-authorization bill sponsored by Labor Committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., which he said "recognizes the necessity to begin to address the nation's biomedical research facilities deficit."

Peterson serves on an ad hoc panel that has urged Congress to allocate $200 million in fiscal 1988 and $250 million in 1989 to repair and renovate universities' medical research facilities.

At Tuesday's hearing, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top-ranking Republican on the committee, praised the U. of U. for its development of a probe that allows doctors to determine the chemical composition of a person's blood, and its work on an implantable, electronically powered heart.