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November 17, 2006

University of Michigan Regents approve new research institute

Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research will help accelerate the transition of scientific discovery to improve health

ANN ARBOR, MI – The University of Michigan Board of Regents today approved the creation of the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICH-R), which will work toward turning laboratory research into treatments and cures that benefit the community.

Dr. CLauwThe new MICH-R, a trans-institutional academic unit, will report to Robert Kelch, M.D., U-M executive vice president for medical affairs. The virtual institute will provide infrastructure to connect scientists across the University in order to accelerate and strengthen all research at the university related to human health. The institute will provide an academic home for the full spectrum of activities needed to support such research, including informatics, statistics, ethical oversight, regulatory support, community engagement resources, education programs, health disparities and pediatric-focused research and more.  Since no building is proposed for the virtual institute, functions will be enabled through support for incremental leased or remodeled space.

“The new institute will pull scientists from across traditional boundaries to stimulate ideas and look for innovative applications for work that is under way. More than 30 schools, departments and centers are collaborating from every corner of campus to provide resources,” says Kelch. “By uniting researchers from this spectrum, we can accelerate the pace of translation from the laboratory bench to patients’ bedsides, and into the communities.”

Says Daniel Clauw, M.D., one of the key architects of the MICH-R, “We have found strong consensus and tremendous grass-roots support across the University for this vision. The leaders we have spoken to feel that MICH-R will be of significant benefit to their individual units, the University and the region. Accordingly, they’ve invested heavily in the success of this enterprise and its mission.”

The schools of Business, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Information and Public Health, the colleges of Engineering, Pharmacy and the College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts, the division of Kinesiology, the Institute for Social Research and the Life Sciences Institute are among 33 separate schools, departments and centers that have pledged resources to the new institute. The total dollar pledge from these units is $55 million and will cover faculty salaries, recruitment packages, pilot funds for research, facility renovations, informatics infrastructure development, and staff and faculty support for the first five years. The institute will include 98 faculty full time equivalents from among the collaborating schools, departments and centers.

Clauw, an assistant dean for clinical and translational research and a professor of internal medicine, says that the University has the opportunity to build on its traditional strengths in basic science, clinical and health services research.

Congress, federal agencies and philanthropists are creating significant opportunities to support integrated translation of laboratory and clinical trial discoveries into cures and better care. Creating the new institute, Clauw says, will help to ensure that discoveries made at Michigan will translate directly into advances in human health for our own patients, and for patients everywhere.

“By creating an entity that can maximize our combined scientific and research assets within the University community, we expect to strengthen the core values of integration, collaboration, innovation and adaptation,” says Dorene Markel, director of clinical and translational research at the U-M Medical School. “These are the values of a health sciences research enterprise of the future, one that has the resources to solve complex health problems and benefit the community.”

The structure and governance of MICH-R will be set before the end of the year. Its operating committee will consist of the directors, associate directors, center directors and associate deans for research from participating schools. The current Center for the Advancement of Clinical Research in the Medical School will become the foundation of the infrastructure for the new institute.  Other centers and programs are also being considered to be moved under the institute.

Written by Mary Beth Reilly

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