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May 19, 2004

U-M Life Sciences Institute celebrates grand opening, unveils two centers, four new faculty

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Six months after the first labs moved into the new Life Sciences Institute laboratory facility, LSI Director Alan R. Saltiel has announced the establishment of two new centers of collaboration, a Center for Chemical Genomics, and a Center for Structural Biology.

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Saltiel also announced the hiring of four new faculty for the multidisciplinary institute, bringing the total number to 13 out of an eventual 20-30. The four faculty are structural biologist Janet L. Smith from Purdue University, physiologist Shawn Xu from CalTech, medical chemist David Sherman from U-M's College of Pharmacy, and business administration professor B. Joseph White.

The announcements came during a two-day celebration of the birth of the new Life Sciences Institute May 13 and 14. The celebration included scientific lectures, receptions and tours of the 230,000 square foot Institute building.

A Friday morning convocation ceremony featured remarks by President Mary Sue Coleman, Regent Katherine White, Medical School Dean Allen Lichter, and Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson.

In a keynote address, Wilson said the LSI exemplifies the latest trends of unification in the biological sciences. “Molecular biologists have entered the rainforest of the cell,” Wilson said, and they are acting as naturalists, identifying many new species of biomolecules and understanding how they interact with one another.

“Our recruiting is going well and now is the time to begin initiatives that will really help to bring scientists together across scientific fields,” Saltiel said. “These programs are at the forefront of scientific discovery and will catalyze interactions across the campus.”

The Center for Chemical Genomics (CCG) will apply the latest high-throughput laboratory technology to the search for small molecular tools that will help researchers explore living cells. These molecular tools will enable researchers to measure the cell's dynamic systems in action, relatively non-invasively. CCG tools may help discover how cells communicate, how they turn genes on and off, how they release newly-made proteins, or send broken parts to the trash can. The heart of the CCG will be a robotic lab capable of screening tens of thousands of candidate molecules for possible effects on cells. This will be a core collaboratory for LSI scientists and other U-M researchers.

The Center for Structural Biology is a critical mass of leading researchers shedding light on the very specific shapes and forms of molecules in the living cell and studying how they interact with one another in health and disease. The collaboratory” is centered around a protein production facility and an x-ray crystallography suite. This facility also serves as a core laboratory for all U-M researchers interested in understanding the three-dimensional structure of proteins.

The Life Sciences Institute is a newly established research unit of U-M that serves as a hub for multidisciplinary scientific collaborations which will shape the biological revolution.

 

 

Contact: Karl Leif Bates
Phone: (734) 647-1842
E-mail: batesk@umich.edu