First professor named to Life Sciences team

BY ANNA CLARK
Daily News Writer
Published March 22, 2001

World-renowned diabetes expert Alan Saltiel"s recent appointment to the Life Sciences Institute signifies the University"s first step in putting together a team of leading life sciences researchers and teachers.

Saltiel is the first faculty member to join the LSI, following the appointment of co-directors Jack Dixon and Scott Emr last October.

"I"m just really excited about the LSI, and enthusiastic about its potential to be a bridge for all the different aspects of the life sciences at the University," Saltiel said.

Dixon called the hiring of Saltiel "a special opportunity," even though the LSI is not yet in a position to formally recruit faculty. Dixon and Emr said they heard Saltiel was preparing to leave his position in the cell biology department of Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research"s Ann Arbor division after its merger with drug company Pfizer and encouraged him to remain in the area.

At the time, Saltiel was also a University adjunct physiology professor.

"He"s a world expert in diabetes," Dixon said. "That"s an extremely important disease that affects a large number of people across the U.S and the world. He has valuable connections with industry. And he"s a person of real high standards."

Emr echoed Dixon"s enthusiasm.

"A major goal for the Life Sciences Institute is to help establish links between basic science research and the clinical treatment of human diseases like diabetes," Emr said in a written statement. "The appointment of Alan Saltiel represents an important first step in this direction."

Saltiel said he was impressed with the opportunities the LSI offered when Dixon proposed the position to him.

"Because we shared a vision for the institute, and we have similar philosophies of research, the opportunity to work within the University of Michigan was appealing," Saltiel said.

He added that he was especially excited about being a part of the LSI at such an early stage, and that he has already begun diabetes research out of a different office in the University Medical School. "I can be one of the founding scientists of the LSI, and help shape it"s direction," Saltiel said.

The LSI is eventually expected to consist of up to 30 faculty members, but official recruitment has not yet begun beyond a "few phone calls to certain people to see what their interest level is in this," Dixon said.

Construction has already begun on the LSI at the corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Huron Street. With an expected opening date in 2003, the University hopes to attract the world"s leading life science researchers and teachers to work together in the LSI for the furthering of progress in the field.