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UM’s North Campus Research Complex Continues To Grow

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The University of Michigan North Campus Research Complex, a former Pfizer Inc. research center

The University of Michigan North Campus Research Complex, a former Pfizer Inc. research center

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan will invest $17.5 million to further expand research space at its North Campus Research Complex.

Last week, the UM Board of Regents approved a project to renovate and open 68,000 more square feet at the complex for biomedical research space, including space for shared research tools that can be used by many scientists.

A new analysis, meanwhile, shows that nearly 300 new jobs have already been created at the site in the three and a half years since it opened.

Nearly 1,700 people already work in the array of laboratories and offices at NCRC, and hundreds more are preparing to move there to take part in carefully planned research clusters. UM bought the sprawling former pharmaceutical research complex, including 27 buildings comprising more than 2 million square feet of space, from Pfizer Inc. in June 2009, and moved the first employees there in March 2010.

“This new project will continue UM’s commitment to make NCRC a hub for research that translates new discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace and clinic,” said NCRC executive director David Canter. “We have made good progress in creating a place where UM scientists and partners from the private and public sectors can work together, and fuel growth that aids the Michigan economy.”

The mix of people now working at NCRC includes faculty, staff and students from 10 colleges and schools within UM, as well as researchers from the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and the staff of two established private scientific companies and 19 UM startup companies.

A crucial part of realizing NCRC’s potential is the availability of advanced research equipment that would be too expensive for any one laboratory or small company to buy or maintain on its own.

The newly approved renovation project, in a building called 20E, will create a new home for sophisticated cell analysis machines and microscopes, and other such ‘core’ facilities. The rest of the building will be used for biomedical research labs.

A new report at http://ar.umncrc.org details key developments at NCRC, including:
* Careful planning for use of NCRC research space has brought together more than 150 scientists who do research in cancer, cardiovascular disease, biointerfaces, health care services, transportation, bioinformatics and emergency medicine. This clustering of researchers, and their teams, along themes increases collaboration.
* Shared scientific services on the site now include flow cytometry, microscopy and image analysis, DNA sequencing, molecular imaging, physiology phenotyping, and bioinformatics analysis.
* The 19 UM startup companies in the Venture Accelerator at NCRC lease lab and office space, and receive support from UM’s Venture Center.
* More than 17,000 people have attended events in NCRC’s large conference and meeting space in the last year.
* The development of a “community” feel at NCRC is growing, with library services, food service provided by Opus One of Detroit, child care, art exhibits, exercise facilities and regular gatherings for scientists and staff, as well as transportation and technology that eases connections with the rest of UM.
* The large kitchen on the site was used for the past year by the UM Hospitals & Health Centers to prepare meals for inpatients in the three UM hospitals, and local homebound residents who receive Meals on Wheels deliveries, saving money and time while the hospital kitchens were renovated and enlarged. * An animation showing the progress in filling the 27 existing buildings at NCRC over the last three and a half years is available at http://youtu.be/WBDM_KQAO_M

For more information, visit www.umncrc.org .

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