July 17, 2000

Paul Wong
Construction of the Life Sciences Institute is well underway at the corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Huron Street. The institute plans to open in 2003.<br><br>MARJORIE MARSHALL/Daily

After two years of planning and research, groundbreaking has finally begun on the Life Sciences Institute.

“It”s all happening pretty quickly. I think we”re ahead of the curve in terms of other institutions pursuing the life sciences,” said Jack Dixon, who was later selected as one of the institute”s two directors.

The LSI complex will be located along Washtenaw Avenue, across from Palmer Field, where it will connect the now vacant area between the Central and Medical campuses. Construction has begun on a parking structure, which will be mostly underground, and work on the main LSI buildings will commence soon, Dixon said.

He added that construction should take 2 1/2 years to complete and shouldn”t cause much inconvenience to traffic, as construction will take place in an empty space.

When finished, the LSI will consist of several buildings that will house laboratories, classrooms, offices, a restaurant and a parking structure.

The LSI is intended for study and research in “what it means to be human, how best to lead a human or humane existence (and) what it is to be a living organism on this planet,” University President Lee Bollinger said in a letter sent to the University community on May 24.

Several University departments will combine to create new courses of study and to support new research in fields influencing everything from medicine to the humanities.

Besides the physical developments in the LSI, progress is also being made in less tangible aspects of the project. A high priority now is to find a director.

“We”re focusing most of our energies in the search for a director,” Dixon said,

He went on to say the University is currently considering several possible candidates, but won”t be able to make any definite announcements for a few months.

In support of the initiative, lecture series” and visiting professors have already been inaugurated at the University with goals coinciding with the mission of the LSI.

Dixon pointed out that the broad scope of the LSI will have an enormous influence.

“This will impact virtually every aspect of our lives not only in ways we perceive but in ways we haven”t even he conceived of,” he said. “There”s a lot of excitement, everywhere from engineering to business.”

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