In a rare recruiting move, the University’s Medical School has hired more than 30 researchers from a school in upstate New York to boost cardiovascular research programs at the University.
So far, 35 heart rhythm specialists, students and staff from the Institute for Cardiovascular Research at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse are headed to Ann Arbor. A few more researchers have not yet decided whether they’ll come to the University.
The University of Michigan News Service initially reported that 25 researchers would make the move.
Mario Delmar, one of the team’s leaders, said most of the institute’s employees have decided to follow him and his research partner, Jose Jalifé, after being recruited by the University.
Along with the University’s Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine David Pinsky, Delmar and Jalifé will serve as co-directors of the University’s Center for Arrhythmia Research, which was created to accommodate the hires.
Delmar and his team will investigate the causes and effects of heart arrhythmias, which occur when the heart begins to beat erratically. Without treatment, arrhythmias can lead to strokes or death.
The move is unusual because by transferring such a large portion of the staff, the entire New York institute will essentially be relocated to Ann Arbor, Delmar said. It took more than a year of negotiations.
Several large donations to the University and its cardiovascular units, including one anonymous $50 million pledge in June of last year, made it possible for the University to recruit the researchers en masse.
Delmar and his team are now in the process of moving lab equipment from New York to their temporary space on Venture Drive south of downtown Ann Arbor. They hope to complete the move by March 15.
Delmar said the University Hospital’s superior resources and reputation swayed him to leave New York for Ann Arbor.
“It’s definitely in a different league than the university we were at,” he said.
In New York, Delmar and his team rarely got to see how their findings were used in treating patients.
The University of Michigan Hospital’s partnership with the Center for Arrhythmia Research was another benefit of the move, Delmar said.
The newly hired team will bring more than $5 million annually in research grants to Ann Arbor from the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.
“In today’s competitive academic climate, we’re especially proud to have recruited them to Michigan,” said James Woolliscroft, dean of the Medical School, in a written statement.
Delmar said transferring the research team’s grant money from the New York institute to the University of Michigan was a challenge, but that the issue has since been worked out.
In addition to their positions at the new Center for Arrhythmia Research, many of the incoming researchers will also join the Medical School’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Some of the appointments will require approval from the University’s Board of Regents.
Steven Scheinman, dean of the SUNY Upstate’s College of Medicine, told The Associated Press last month that the school’s institute would likely have to change its cardiovascular focus to a different discipline as a result of losing the researchers to the University.
“Baseball teams do this to each other, universities do this to each other, whether it’s in medicine or outside medicine,” Scheinman said.