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September 10, 1981 - Image 33

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-09-10

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The Michigan Daily-Thursday, September 10, 1981-Page 13


The federal government is by far the biggest sponsor of re-
search at the University, with industry a distant second.
The graph shows total sponsored research activities during
the past five fiscal years and the allotment to broad fields
of study. What appears to be a radical increase the last few
years is deceptive; in constant 1975 dollars the five year
increase is only $3.4 million, not $37.3 million. (Courtesy of
the University Division of Research Development and Ad-

1975 80

S71 4

S7 J

S/2 /

$843 3


$108 7

4 6 '

19'!6 1977 1978



Doily Photo by KIM HILL
excels in. research

Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT - the
names conjure up images of quality
learning. institutions that almost any
high school senior would be happy to at-
Each of these schools is highly
respected largely because of its high
quality research programs which in
turn, "breed" and attract the best,
.1,%most qualified faculty.
THOUGH MANY students believe
classroom instruction is neglected in
favor of research (the familiar
"Publish or perish" argument),
research and instruction are, in many
cases, complementary - which is why
the University ranks among the elite of
the nation's schools.
Undergrads have less opportunity
than graduate students to participate in
research at the University, but they are
affected by it nonetheless.
Steve Fitz, a biology major now
nrolled in the Dental School, speaks
well of classes taught by professors
engaged in research. "If it's in their
area, the book becomes obsolete
The text book will usually be about
five years behind even if it is a recently
published edition, Fitz said, adding that
"a different school may take it right
from the book."
AT THE University you get a good
Idea of what's happening now in fast-
changing areas such as limb generation
and recombinant DNA, Fitz said. "It's
nice when they're teaching something
that was just published or is about to be
"If they're teaching their own field,
they'll inevitably bring their own
research into their topic," he said. "It's
so much a part of their life."
University business school graduate
Harold Jahnke, now in the MBA
program here, offers a different view.
'When you mix research and teaching,
sometimes the students don't come first
anymore." He cited a few personal in-
stances when a professor had been too
busy with study to take time to counsel
him. "And that really bothers me,"
Jahnke said.
professors don't feel obligated to teach
that they come to the University for
its research opportunities. He claimed
such professors don't make good in-
structors. "They can't explain. They'll
often talk above your head."
"There's the good and the bad," Fitz
concluded. "But most of them I've had
have been good."
Research can be broadly defined as
any creative or scholarly activity -
from monitoring the mutation rate in
gene pools with sophisticated com-
puters, to sitting beside a glowing hear-
th with some books, a yellow legal pad,
nd a trained imagination. It spans
from physics and medicine to music
and art.
ALL RESEARCH hopefully augmen-
ts a professor's knowledge, sharpening
the mind through diversion' from the
usual routine of teaching the same class
format each year. "Research keeps a

good instructor on his or her toes," says
Physiology Porfessor Lester Rutledge,
chairman of the research policies
Research at the University also has
more far-reaching implications. As
University President Harold Shapiro
wrote in a letter to federal officials
warning against proposed budget cuts
in the National -Science Foundation
research grants, "They could impair
the continuing vitality of U.S.'science at
the major research universities and,
thus, threaten our long-run economic
renewal and our national potential for
participating in the developments of the
next decades.
"OUR UNIVERSITIES are the coun-
try's prime source of new knowledge
and highly trained people, and
budgetary policies which unwisely

The University's funding from
Defense decreased sharply between
1970 and 1980, largely because of the
University's separation from Willow
Run Laboratories in 1973. Willow Run,
now called the Environmental Resear-
ch Institute of Michigan, currently gets
about two-thirds of its funding from the
Department of Defense, and specializes
in the remote sensing of the environ-
The Division of Research and
Development Administration at the
University is now noting a slight rise in
the number of proposals submitted to
the DOD, but the rise isn't in classified
(secret) research according to James
Lesch, the DRDA's director.
THE DOD IS going to be spending
more on basic or pure research Lesch
said, adding that it's a "rather for-
tuitous turn" for universities.
The amount of classified defense
research at universities created much
controversy during the Vietnam War
era. A more recent public debate in-
volved research with recombinant
It was not until May 1976 that the
Regents voted to approve recombinant
DNA research, and they set stringent
guidelines for the work. Critics of the
specialized research feared the
creation of a harmful mutant bacteria
which could devastate the world by
powerful, unstoppable plagues, much
like the "Andromeda Strain."
HOWEVER, THOSE fears have thus
far proved unfounded, and in the past
five years the National Institute of
Health has relaxed its guidelines,
although the Biological Research
Review Committee still exists to make
sure the guidelines are followed.
"It's about impossible to create such
an organism" as the Andromeda
Strain, said Alan Price, assistant dean
for research development at the
Medical School. The DNA in animal or
virus cells is different from that in bac-
teria such as the, commonly used E.
coli, so harmful proteins are never ex-
posed, said Price.
Presently there is no "high contain-
ment" research using recombinant
DNA at the University, though "we do
have the facilities for it," Price said.
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As Ann Arbor attempts to expand its
core of high technology business,
cooperation between the University and
private industry becomes increasingly
Michigan has for years been a single-
industry state, but the auto-depressed
need to expand and diversify the state's
economy has spurred Ann Arbor's ef-
forts to attract new high-technology
business. A vital selling point is the
presence of the University and its
nationally-ranked research
DEVELOPING a system of
cooperation between business and the
academic environments is a concern of
leaders in both fields. Problems on the
agenda include how involved a univer-
sity can be in researching contracts
dealing with industrial problems, while
maintaining academic freedoms and
incentives for basic research.
University President Harold Shapiro
asserts that "to the extent that a
business would improve the University,
we should do what we can. Our first role
is not economic developer, but rather to
operate a high quality instruction and
research program."
The Michigan Technology Council
has been established to provide a forum
for industry and University peers to
discuss developments, thereby enhan-
cing 'nd promoting cooperation. By
getting together like this, often over
drinks at informal gatherings, frien-
dships and contacts are established so
that when one of the groups has a
problem, it will know where to turn for
JIM LESCH, Director of the Division
of Research and Development Ad-
ministration, said that fostering a
system of cooperation through
meetings between University staff and
industrial researchers would enhance
the development of ideas into ap-
plicable technology. This he calls the
"technology transfer gap."
- Lesch said the council thinks
fostering such cooperation will even-
tually expand and diversify Michigan's
economy. "The committee ought to
work toward the creation of more
technology-based industry in the state,"
he said. "To do that you need good
university relations with industry. The
goals go hand in hand."
James Duderstadt, Dean of
Engineering, says he agrees that in-
volvement with industrial problems is
important. But he stresses the value of
basic research. "Involvement in real
world problems is critical, but on the
other hand major technological in-
novation occurs in universities," he
says. "You can never tell the impact of
a discovery which often comes from in-
nocuous beginnings."
plain that in Engineering, "we need a
mix." He also said cooperation is the
key: "Ask, what are your problems?
Look, here is what we need. How about
a trade?"
Establishing business-academia rap-
port has, according to Lesch, generated
a great deal of excitement among in-
dustry and university researchers.
Lesch characterizes such interaction as
having "a rigorous effect on

curriculum." Faculty who are on the
fringes of the actual research expose
students to the latest developments.
Often, he said, the curriculum is
u-pgraded before the texts are
published. Because of the high quality
of students at the University, it is
demanded that the faculty involve
themselves with research in order to
extend their knowledge and
disseminate to their students, he said.
Without support from industry the
University would be hard-pressed to
maintain the quality of its present
faculty, Lesch said. "The University
pays through the nose to get people
from the fringes of research activity,"'
he said.
Typically a professor is expected to
spend 25 per cent of his time on depar-
tmental research paid for by the
"IF THAT PROFESSOR can entice a
company to sponsor his research, the
University can use that part of his
salary to expand its own research
programs. This also entices top quality
researchers to come to Ann Arbor,"
Lesch claimed.
Another idea mentioned by both
Lesch and Duderstadt is for a non-profit
research foundation jointly operated by
both private industry and the Univer-
sity. It would be comprised of a board
membership and negotiate business
arrangements between industry and
the university.
A committee directed by J. J. Martin
is currently reviewing the policies and
procedures of University/industry in-
teraction. One of the committee's goals
is to shorten the technology transfer

gap. It is also reviewing the practice of
spin-offs, a process in which a professor
develops an idea at the University, then'
decides to start a company to capitalize
on that idea.
Another area receiving attention is
patent agreements. Presently, the,
University gets royalties and oc-
casionally what Lesch calls "up front;
money," or funds given to the-
developer of a patent to continue with
basic research.
Shapiro, however, said he is wary of
the University becoming too closely,
associated with the entrepreneurial,
side of research. "It can lead to serious;
conflicts of interest," he said. "It may.
set up a situation where the Univer-
sity's principle objective in areas of
research an'd teaching are at conflict
with what would be good for earning
money for this company."
But Shapiro added that "develop-
ment of certain types of industry cane
strengthen University programs and
improve the economic base for
Michigan, which helps us."
Lesch asserts that interaction betwen
industry and university researchers is
vital because "the economy of the coun-
try is based on technological develop-k
ment. If we can't shorten the gap (idea,
to application), we might have other,
countries take our markets," he said.
Ann Arbor attracts what William In--
ce, chairman of the Michigan~
Technology Council, calls, "a very
professional environment. The quality:
of people here is phenomenal." Such
people bring in money. And, Lesch said,.
pride can be taken in the fact that when
people think of significant technologicaJ
development, they think of Ann Arbor.

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... more cooperation with industry
harm their ability to discharge these
responsibilities will adversely affect
the quality of our national life.'.'
Last fiscal year, sponsored research
expenditures at the University totaled
more than $108 million dollars, with
federal agencies funding more than 70
percent of the total volume of expen-
ditures, and private industry about 10
percent. Now, as government support
becomes scarce, the University is
looking increasingly towards other
sources, especially industry, to main-
tain its prestigious reputation in
Possible areas of cooperation, accor-
ding to Vice-president Overburger's
report to the Regents last fall, are in
image processing, robotics,
macromolecular science, CAD/CAM,
recombinant DNA, and automotive
THERE IS also the possibility of
receiving more funding from the
Department of Defense. Most of the in-
crease under the Reagan proposals
would come from the Defense area,
which would boost its research grants
to universities by 41 percent between
fiscal years 1980 and 1982 - from $455 to
$645 million, according to an article in
The Chronicle of Higher Education.


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