Letter from the Director

When I wrote to you last year,  I announced that the U-M Health System’s clinical pathology activities would begin relocation to NCRC in 2018. I am happy to share that renovation of the four buildings they will occupy continues apace. This move will bring NCRC’s total occupancy to well over 3000 people by the end of FY2018.

One of the original purposes of the NCRC was to develop translational sciences and shift from basic research to applications in actual clinical practice–practical, feasible solutions to critical real-world health problems. The ambition that flourishes in the NCRC’s culture of collaboration, and the innovation fostered by interdisciplinary invention, are key to bringing leading-edge technologies and best practices to the public with speed and parity.

A culture of diversity, equality, and inclusion is also key to doing this work. To that end, NCRC has begun partnering with the U-M’s Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion training program. This spring we offered courses on intercultural communication, unconscious bias, and bystander intervention skills, and we look forward to continuing the “Many Voices, Our Michigan” conversation in the coming year.

More than half of U-M’s schools and colleges are represented here. Not only engineers, doctors, and scientists, but programmers, designers, and entrepreneurs come together at NCRC to work on complex research programs that break down traditional disciplinary silos and attract world-class investigators, funding, and business support. The Cancer Center, for example, recently welcomed the newly-founded Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery, established through a $17.5 million gift from Sidney and Madeline Forbes. Director Max S. Wicha, M.D., says, “The Forbes Institute supports teams of investigators from across the university: the engineering school, the school of pharmacy, the school of public health, the business school, the law school and the medical school.”

We have the capacity to support this vibrant innovation. We offer state-of-the-art research, lab, and meeting space for what U-M President Mark Schlissel–himself an M.D./Ph.D.–calls “indispensable collaborations with the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and federal, state and local governments.” U-M has two stated missions for NCRC: to expand the university’s strengths in translational research, and to help lead the resurgence of the Michigan economy.

In addition to our many U-M research programs, we are home to external partners, most recently welcoming private company DENSO. According to Umesh Patel, Senior Director of the Business Engagement Center at NCRC, “Since locating at NCRC, DENSO has established new collaborations with Michigan Medicine, College of Engineering, and U-M Transportation Research Institute.” The connections made through company partnerships led to $284 million in corporate research funding through the Business Engagement Center last year.

We are all eager to see what’s next for NCRC. Putting pathology alongside other researchers will be a fruitful collaboration of ideas. Our colleague Alec D. Gillimore, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, agrees. “NCRC epitomizes the collaborative, public-oriented spirit of the university. Chemical Engineering faculty and students partner with peers from other units to tackle various big problems. The Biointerfaces Institute includes researchers from engineering, medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, targeting challenges faced by healthcare providers. New technologies will be translated to clinical use. We are proud partners in these important efforts to serve the common good.”

The 2017 North Campus Research Complex Annual Report details even more news of the successes on our connected, vibrant, flourishing campus. I am proud to nurture this important work.

David Canter, M.B., Ch.B.
Executive Director, NCRC

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