Trustees establish life sciences research center
July 30, 2003
KALAMAZOO -- Acting during a special July 30 conference call meeting, Western Michigan University trustees approved a recommendation to launch a research center at WMU that will focus on the development and commercialization of pharmaceutical and other bioscience products, using $10 million in recently approved state funding.
The biosciences research and commercialization center at WMU was established by unanimous vote of trustees. The resolution authorized the establishment of the center and granted WMU President Judith I. Bailey the authority to take all actions appropriate to make the center a reality.
Pointing to the University's recent string of successes in establishing the Business Technology and Research Park, securing federal funding for its Nanotechnology Research and Computation Center and licensing patented technology to a private firm for development, Bailey said the board's action will give the University the ability to move swiftly to take advantage of opportunities and initiatives that will ensure the center's success.
"Working together, this University, the Kalamazoo community and indeed all of Southwest Michigan and the state have a unique opportunity to both dramatically enhance the rate of discovery in the biosciences and ensure those discoveries meet with success in the marketplace," Bailey said. "We're building a center that will draw upon the scientific talent at the University and in the community and merge it with this community's well-established expertise and reputation for turning research into marketable products."
Bailey noted the new WMU entity would be the only university research center in the nation with a staff of pharmaceutical commercialization experts. She expects that fact to lead to collaborative work with other research centers in Michigan and beyond because the WMU center will offer the expertise and mechanisms for taking the discoveries of those other research centers from the laboratory to the consumer market.
"This is one of very few places in the world that has the pharmaceutical talent and infrastructure needed to make a center like this work," Bailey said. "We also enjoy intense community support and a level of commitment that will ensure success."
The center will coordinate research activities and provide an organizational home for scientists as they work to establish new businesses, obtain extramural funding for research and develop a center of excellence for pharmaceutical development to support commercialization of the life sciences in Michigan. Activities will be coordinated by a Life Sciences Consortium, consisting of WMU and other educational and medical organizations, corporate partners, economic developers and government entities.
University officials expect the center to become a model for the efficient movement of discoveries from university research laboratories to the market by providing access to the personnel who have expertise in the final steps of the process.
Earlier this month, after intense efforts by local legislators and University and community leadership, both houses of the Michigan legislature approved supplemental funding of $10 million to be used to launch a bioscience research and commercialization center in Kalamazoo. The legislation is awaiting the signature of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
In a related matter, trustees approved a recommendation indicating their support for having University officials explore the option of establishing a research foundation at WMU. Any recommendation to formally establish such an entity would be brought back to the board for its consideration and action at a future meeting.
Separate research foundations are used by many universities to support, fund and facilitate research activities and to focus on developing and commercializing patents, technology and intellectual property.
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