Letter from the Director
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NCRC: Connected, Vibrant, Flourishing

Dr. David Canter

Dr. David Canter, Executive Director, the University of Michigan North Campus Research Complex

The North Campus Research Complex has two stated missions: to expand the university’s strengths in translational research, and to help lead the resurgence of the Michigan economy. I’m proud of how far we have come, just four years into the NCRC’s acquisition, in accomplishing those missions. Our commitments to collaboration and partnerships, to state of the art research and lab space, and to supporting complex research programs build on the University of Michigan’s ability to attract the most excellent and innovative researchers, programs, and private companies in the world, and make possible advances in research that can translate valuable research discoveries into better human health.

In 2013, we saw the growth or establishment of the Electron Microbeam Analysis Laboratory, the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, the Michigan Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care, and the Translational Oncology Program at NCRC, as well as Lycera’s new collaboration with Merck. Each of these programs requires the expertise of researchers from different fields.

IHPI involves over 400 members, each individually part of a home department, school, or research group. Without the contiguous space at NCRC, this Institute would not have come together so rapidly; it is a great example of how we can enable research to flourish.

M-CIRCC draws on cutting-edge engineering and applied basic science expertise to provide live-saving care with the goal of returning patients to their pre-injury state. Apart from NCRC’s close connection with the medical school, the proximity to the College of Engineering on North Campus and the presence of the Office of Tech Transfer at NCRC are major advantages in the translation of their research into tangible patient benefits.

Led by Dr. Diane Simeone, researchers in the Translational Oncology Program are using basic research on the fundamental molecular underpinnings of cancer to develop more accurate predictions of the progression of cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, head and neck, colon, prostate and thyroid. These analyses can be used to develop targeted therapies that tackle specific cancer events with precision, turning advancements in basic research into advancements in cancer treatment.

Almost all technologies and knowledge that lead to gains in human health require collaborative effort that is not typically available to individual researchers or small groups of investigators. NCRC has the capacity to enable the kind of collaborative and inter-disciplinary efforts that is required for translational research—work that directly impacts human health, instead of simply adding to scientific knowledge.

In the coming year, I look forward to the University of Michigan Health System’s Central Biorepository opening at NCRC. Our state of the art research and lab space, reliable, innovative support services, and proximity to researchers in engineering, medicine, science, and technology make NCRC an appealing home for exciting research initatives.

We are beginning to reach critical mass at NCRC, and I expect that next year’s Annual Report will be impacted by that snowball effect. I would like to see more private-public partnerships in our facilities, reflecting our commitment to making this location flourish. I would also like to see the collaborative, interdisciplinary research happening at NCRC rewarded with a level of funding above what those programs could have found on their own. I would like us, together, to take risks, cross boundaries, and commit ourselves to doing research differently in the name of advances toward human health.

I invite you to be a part of NCRC’s exciting growth, whether you are a faculty member, researcher, or business employee; a student or a member of the Ann Arbor community. It is thrilling to work on this connected, vibrant, flourishing campus. Together, we have much to look forward to in creating an exemplary research crossroads at the University of Michigan, and I feel fortunate to be building a robust research environment here with you.

David Canter, MB, ChB
Executive Director, NCRC

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