The University Record, April 2, 2001

Life Sciences Institute: University to celebrate launch of Life Sciences Institute, construction of 230,000-square-foot building to house it

By Colleen Newvine
News and Information Services

The University will celebrate the launch of the Life Sciences Institute and the construction of the 230,000-square-foot, $96 million Life Sciences Institute building with a series of events April 11.

An official kickoff ceremony at Rackham Auditorium will include keynote talks by Institute co-directors Jack E. Dixon and Scott D. Emr, as well as remarks by life sciences students Meredith W. Miller and Nakia Williams. President Lee C. Bollinger also will speak, and Ypsilanti High School teacher Robin Evans will present the work of 21 of her students who have painted panels with the theme “What Life Science Will Look Like in the Future.”

A reception in the Rackham East Study Lounge will follow the ceremony.

At 5 p.m., Bollinger will moderate a panel discussion on art, ethics and genetics at the Museum of Art. Panelists include Peter Ubel, associate professor of internal medicine; Elizabeth Petty, associate professor of internal medicine and of human genetics; and Carole Kismaric and Marvin Heiferman, partners in the New York-based company Lookout and independent curators of the museum’s current exhibition, “Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution.” The panel discussion is being organized by the Museum and the Life Sciences, Values and Society Program, which focuses attention on the social impact of advances in the life sciences and is an important component of the Life Sciences Initiative.

The Life Sciences Institute is part of the Life Sciences Initiative, launched in 1999 as a campuswide effort to coordinate and expand research and teaching in such rapidly advancing fields as genomics, chemical and structural biology, cognitive neuroscience and bioinformatics.

The institute building is scheduled for completion in 2003. It will serve as a hub for cross-disciplinary research and teaching in the life sciences.

The Institute was formally established Jan. 1 with an endowment of $130 million. The Regents appointed the co-directors of the Institute in October, and earlier this month, the Regents approved the first faculty appointment to the institute. Construction is under way at the building site on Washtenaw Avenue at Palmer Drive.

Dixon, the Minor J. Coon Professor of Biological Chemistry and chair of biological chemistry in the Medical School, will begin his new position as co-director of the Life Sciences Institute July 1, after completing his term as department chair. A member of the faculty since 1991, Dixon served as chair of the faculty advisory committee for the Life Sciences Initiative.

Emr, professor of cellular and molecular medicine in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, will assume duties as co-director of the Life Sciences Institute July 1, 2002.

Miller is an undergraduate honors student in chemistry and biochemistry from Bloomfield Hills. She has participated in the award-winning Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates, and Women in Science and Engineering. She received a National Science Foundation Summer Research Fellowship in 2000. She also is a research assistant studying radiotherapy, drugs and invasive surgery to treat cancer.

Williams, a microbiology major who came to U-M from Texas, plans to attend medical school in the fall. She is a student adviser with the Black Pre-Medical Association, a Biomedical Peer Adviser with the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and a co-founder of MASCI (MAth/SCIence) Challenge, an undergraduate organization founded by the Black Pre-Medical Association and the National Society of Black Engineers that hosts a weekend conference for underrepresented minority high school students from Michigan.

For more information on the Life Sciences Initiative, visit the Web at For details on the event, visit the Web at For background on the Institute, visit For more information on the Life Sciences, Values and Society Program, visit The Life Sciences, Values and Society Program offers an e-mail newsletter that includes an events listing. To be added to the e-mail distribution list, send an e-mail to