WMU News

Legislature to vote on $10 million for WMU life sciences research

June 11, 2003

LANSING, Mich. -- A $10 million addition to Western Michigan University's base funding is being considered by the Michigan Legislature to fund a WMU research center aimed at retaining Pfizer scientists in Michigan to develop and bring new products to market.

Sen. Tom George announced the news at noon today in Lansing. He said he expects the initiative to be approved during a legislative vote later this month. If approved, the funds will be used to form the Western Michigan University Life Sciences Research and Commercialization Center, the only university research center of its kind in the world.

"I commend the vision and leadership of Sen. George, Rep. Jack Hoogendyk and their colleagues for their efforts to provide the resources to create a world-class life sciences center at Western Michigan University, " said WMU President Judith I. Bailey of the initiative. "The Life Sciences Research and Commercialization Center will be instrumental in retaining the scientific talent so essential to furthering our state's position in the life sciences."

Once funded, the center will be immediately formed to serve as an organizational home for displaced Pfizer scientists, as they work to establish new businesses and obtain external funding for their research. The focus will be on retaining those scientists in Michigan to use their expertise for pharmaceutical discovery and commercialization.

The move is a response to the merger earlier this year of Pfizer and Pharmacia. That merger is expected to result in the loss of a number of pharmaceutical research jobs in the state. While the number of research positions that will be lost in Michigan is still unknown, WMU has been working with Kalamazoo officials to develop strategies to keep many of the firm's top researchers in the Kalamazoo community, by providing the support they need to launch new businesses or develop promising new research strands that can be commercialized.

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 269 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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