Two University researchers moved into the North Campus Research Complex yesterday, becoming the first laboratory-based researchers to work at the new complex.

Eric Devaney, associate professor of cardiac surgery, and Todd Herron, assistant research professor of internal medicine in the University’s Center for Arrhythmia Research, are the first of an estimated 60 people to comprise a cardiovascular team at the NCRC, according to a University press release issued yesterday. The cardiovascular group is the first to join the complex.

The University now has about 600 employees working at the NCRC. The forthcoming researchers specialize in stem cell research and the creation of new heart muscles, the press release states.

Officials say the center will serve as an important means for bringing research projects and labs into one centralized area. Devaney wrote in the press release that the move into the complex will increase working partnerships among researchers in various disciplines.

“Proximity leads to creative thinking and collaboration,” Devaney wrote. “The opportunity to work hand-in-hand with other researchers will help us think about science in a different way … The University is lucky to have a place where you can have a critical mass of talent and interest.”

Devaney and his fellow cardiovascular researchers are expected to receive $20 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health over the next five years, according to the press release.

Twenty-three DNA analysis researchers in the DNA sequencing program at the University also moved in the NCRC yesterday. At the complex, the scientists will use DNA research equipment that costs about $10 million. The program provides about 300,000 DNA samples each year and assists 2,000 researchers on campus, according to the press release. The extra space at the NCRC will allow 10 more staff members to join the DNA analysis team.

University of Michigan Health System spokeswoman Mary Masson said in an interview last night that the NCRC has the potential to have a vast economic impact on surrounding businesses.

“Because the funding comes to these researchers, they often use it to either hire lab assistants or use services within the community that result in an economic ripple effect,” Masson said.

The press release cites an analysis by the Association of American Medical Colleges, which determined that for each dollar spent at a university hospital, an extra $1.30 is “re-spent” on other ventures.

NCRC Managing Director Joan Keiser, also an adjunct professor of physiology at the University’s Medical School, wrote in the release that such a large move of researchers into the NCRC required substantial preparation.

“Each of these researchers operates their own little business and are passionate about their productivity … so we really had to make an effort to bring up the core services to support them in parallel with their moves,” Keiser wrote.

The NCRC was established shortly after the University purchased the site of the former Pfizer facility for $108 million dollars in June 2010. The 173.5-acre complex houses 28 buildings that contain various laboratories and offices.

Ora Pescovitz, the University’s executive vice president for medical affairs, said in an interview last summer that the NCRC would become a resource for scientists in multiple areas to work with each other in their research pursuits.

“We’re really excited about the types of research programs that will be brought in here,” Pescovitz said. “We’re going to take advantage of the fact that the space is wide-open.”

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