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Updated 11:00 PM September 15, 2008




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LSI directorship named for President Coleman

The directorship of the Life Sciences Institute will be named for President Mary Sue Coleman to recognize the key role she has played in the development of the interdisciplinary research center. Endowed by a gift from alumni Paul and Susan Meister, the naming marks a milestone for the institute, which is a hub for collaborative biomedical research on human health problems.

"You need leadership at the top to help an endeavor like this succeed, and President Coleman has provided it," says Paul Meister, co-chair of the LSI external advisory board. "She's been incredibly supportive of the efforts of Alan Saltiel and his team."

LSI Director Saltiel and his successors will hold the title Mary Sue Coleman Director of the Life Sciences Institute, pending approval of the Board of Regents.

"I am very proud that the directorship is being named for President Coleman," Saltiel says. "She has been one of the direct causes of our success. President Coleman has played a pivotal role in charting the institute's strategic direction and in guiding the growth of our faculty and operations."

In May 1999 regents approved the creation of a new interdisciplinary science unit to be known as the Life Sciences Institute. LSI would be independent of any U-M school or college, but its researchers would hold joint appointments in the schools and colleges and would collaborate with U-M scientists across the campus.

The regents approved construction of a $100 million building and dedicated an additional $130 million for the Institute's start-up and endowment funding. The Life Sciences Institute opened in 2003, about a year after Coleman was named the university's 13th president.

"President Coleman provided strong leadership for the University's work in life sciences from the moment she walked on campus. Her wise guidance and collaborative approach has enabled the Life Sciences Institute to grow and prosper within Michigan's academic community. We are grateful to the Meisters for their generous gift to the LSI," says Kathy White, Board of Regents chair.

One of Coleman's first official acts was to appoint Saltiel as LSI director. Since it opened, LSI has recruited 28 senior and junior scientists from a broad range of biomedical disciplines; has secured more than $45 million in external grant support; and has launched several collaborative centers open to all U-M researchers.

The institute's 28 faculty-led research teams now include members from 13 departments across three colleges and schools. And the U-M/Israeli Universities Research Partnership program is enabling University life scientists to expand the scope of their partnerships internationally, as well, creating a new model for global scientific collaboration.

LSI scientists have submitted more than 300 grant proposals and authored more than 500 publications since inception (136 publications in the last year alone), including articles in top scientific journals such as Science and Nature. This June LSI announced an "Innovation Partnership" that uses philanthropic funds to try to bring scientific discoveries to patients and the marketplace.

"I am deeply honored that my name will be connected to such a dynamic interdisciplinary institute at the University, and I'm thrilled that Alan Saltiel will be the first Mary Sue Coleman Director of the Life Sciences Institute," Coleman says.

An accomplished biochemist and a member of the Institute of Medicine, Coleman has been an "influential ambassador" for LSI's collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to research, Saltiel says.

"President Coleman is passionate about our mission to break down the silos in academic science and reap the benefits of collaborative work," he says.

Susan and Paul Meister met at U-M when both were pursuing undergraduate degrees, hers in nursing and his in political science and economics.

Susan Meister later received her doctorate in nursing from U-M and was founding chair of the advisory board for the Child Health and Evaluation Research unit at the Medical School. She currently serves as a member of the U-M Health System advisory group. Paul Meister is chief executive officer and co-founder of Liberty Lane Partners, a private investment firm. The Meisters have made previous gifts to the LSI and to other programs in the School of Nursing, Medical School and LSA.

The Meister gift is part of The Michigan Difference fund-raising campaign.

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