The University Record, December 18, 2000

U-M awarded $47.8 million for biomedical research

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

The State of Michigan Life Sciences Corridor has awarded the first grants from tobacco settlement revenue to support life sciences research and economic development throughout the state. U-M awards totaled $47.8 million.

U-M scientists were lead investigators in 24 of 58 research or commercial development proposals approved for funding by the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor steering committee in a Dec. 13 meeting in Lansing. In addition, U-M scientists will direct two of five advanced research centers for use by scientists from all Life Sciences Corridor institutions.

President Lee C. Bollinger said last week that the “announcement is the result of a unique collaboration between Michigan’s state government, its research institutions and its growing biotechnology industry. It is a tangible sign of the significance of today’s life sciences revolution to our state’s economy, the educational mission of its universities, and the profound impact the Corridor will have on medicine and society. Contributing to Michigan’s leadership in life science research and new business development is in everyone’s best interest.”

The largest Life Sciences Corridor award will be used to develop a linked network of advanced technology laboratories in structural biology, proteomics, genomics, bioinformatics and animal models for researchers from universities, private research institutions, and biotechnology or pharmaceutical firms throughout Michigan. These core facilities will be physically located at the U-M, Michigan State University, Wayne State University or the Van Andel Institute, but they will be open to all scientists affiliated with the Life Sciences Corridor.

The U-M will house two of these facilities:

  • The Michigan Proteome Consortium, to be established with $12 million in Life Sciences Corridor funding, will contain state-of-the-art technology to separate and identify proteins created by cells in response to genetic instructions.

  • The Michigan Center for Biological Information, to be funded with a $9 million Life Sciences Corridor grant, will give scientists access to the advanced computing and bioinformatics resources they need to analyze and interpret massive amounts of complex data.

    “We expect that establishment of and access to these facilities and technical services will attract biotechnology or biomedical companies and highly trained scientists to Michigan,” said Gilbert S. Omenn, executive vice president for medical affairs. “Sharing infrastructure will increase scientific collaboration and productivity, lead to more rapid applications for research discoveries in medicine, and jump start spin-off companies and licenses to existing companies.”

    Vice President for Research Fawwaz T. Ulaby said, “This research infrastructure proposal will catalyze the development of life science research and associated economic development in Michigan by making these cutting-edge technologies available to Michigan academic and industrial institutions involved in life science research or its applications.”

    Established with $1 billion from the state’s tobacco lawsuit settlement, the Life Sciences Corridor was created to invest in and promote life sciences research and business development. The state plans to award $50 million annually for 20 years to universities, research institutes and biotechnology companies. The initiative is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

    Research or commercialization proposals from U-M scientists or companies marketing U-M technology that were approved for funding include:

  • Developing more effective gene therapies for cancer.

  • Learning how a key blood coagulation protein changes with age.

  • Creation of a new biosensor to detect bacteria and viruses.

  • Studying the effects of a “good” cholesterol protein on heart disease.

  • Finding the gene for macular degeneration—one of the leading causes of blindness in older adults.

  • Developing new high-resolution mammography technology.

  • Clinical trials of a bioartificial kidney.

  • Developing new drugs to treat heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.

  • Testing a substance that kills bacterial, viral and fungal contaminants in food.

    U-M Life Sciences Corridor Grants

    Basic/Applied Research $15,479,033

    Commercialization/Business Development of U-M Technology

    Integrated Sensing Systems, Inc. $2,750,000
    Integrated Sensing Systems, Inc. 1,978,206
    Nephros Therapeutics, Inc. 1,061,696
    Thromgen, Inc. 1,172,784
    Nanobiologics, Inc. 900,007
    Rubicon Genomics, Inc. 1,891,242
    Molecular Therapeutics, Inc. 1,613,179
    Subtotal $11,367,114

    Michigan Proteome
    (Funded over 5 years)
    Michigan Center
    for Biological Information
    (Funded over 5 years)
    Total Funding $47,846,147