In an e-mail sent to the campus community yesterday, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Ora Pescovitz announced four major decisions that will help guide the North Campus Research Center’s future activity.
In the e-mail, Pescovitz emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of the NCRC and revealed that research at the complex will focus around two technologies that will serve as anchors for future research.
The first focus of NCRC researchers will be to strive to grow a world-class collaboration in biointerfaces — the interface between biomaterial and other materials. According to Pescovitz’s e-mail, the research will focus on microfluidics and sensors, cell and tissue engineering, biomaterials and drug delivery, and nanotechnology.
The second area of research will explore new collaborative possibilities with functional, molecular and structural imaging.
Pescovitz also announced an initiative to research the United States’s health care services and encouraged faculty interested in transferring their research to the NCRC to apply to move.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily following yesterday’s University Board of Regents meeting, Pescovitz said she’s excited for the possibilities of the collaborative research.
“These are really incredible, state-of-the-art interdisciplinary programs that I think are going to revolutionize the activities at NCRC,” Pescovitz said. “In many ways what we’re thinking is that this is going to transform the way we look at research.”
Pescovitz said in the interview that she believes the biointerfaces institute and imaging institute would bring a broad range of collaborators together.
“They are anchors that we envision will attract a whole variety of different research programs that will then be attracted by this new technology to the site,” Pescovitz said. “They are so interdisciplinary and because they are so diverse, they will be of interest to investigators from a variety of different schools.”
Pescovitz added that the technologies that the NCRC will focus on are important to a wide range of scientists.
“You can envision chemists and engineers and life scientists all requiring those different technologies,” Pescovitz said. “So what we’re really hoping will now happen is the programs we are hoping to solicit will be interdisciplinary and will take advantage of those specific technologies that we’re hoping will be anchored there.”
In her e-mail yesterday, Pescovitz also announced that faculty and staff working on projects to improve the quality of the health care system would also be moved to the NCRC to create a central, more collaborative hub for the work.
Pescovitz wrote in the e-mail that she hopes the move “will develop the nation’s premier institute for research in health care services” — including how to effectively manage, organize, deliver and finance the best quality of health care possible.
According to information posted on the University of Michigan Health System’s website, approximately 125 faculty and 450 staff members will be moved to the NCRC to better coordinate their work across disciplines.
“The health services research is a unique opportunity to aggregate scientists that have been spread out across all of the different parts of our campus,” Pesovitz said in the interview.
However, Pescovitz added that she also envisions partnerships with government and private research groups, including the Veterans Administration and Arbor Research Collaborative for Health.
Though yesterday’s announcement will shift more staff and faculty members to the NCRC, other faculty interested in making the move, but not associated with the main focuses of the complex are still eligible to apply. Applicants to the NCRC must complete an application that describes their collaborative work, which will be reviewed by a program review committee.
While yesterday’s announcement means that the University will begin filling the facility, University officials don’t believe it will be filled to capacity for several more years. In fact, when the property was purchased last year, University President Mary Sue Coleman said she wanted to allow 10 years to fill the space.
At the time, Coleman said the bargain of the building’s purchase would serve as an investment that should be strategically planned out to make the most of the new space and not simply shift research projects from one building to another.
The NCRC is in an almost 2 million square-foot space that was formally owned by Pfizer. The University completed the $108 million purchase of the facility in mid-June.