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September 26, 2003 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-26

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=NMI

FRIDAY FOCUS

The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 26, 2003 - 8A

History of Life
Sciences Institute
already filled
with ups, downs
By Jeremy Berkowitz
Daily Staff Reporter

Despite the opening of the new Life Sci-
ences Institute last week, the LSI is cur-
rently facing several
problems with recruiting "Fran]
and funding.
LSI Managing Director ' t
Liz Barry said there is ado t ih
roadmap to currently hire needs tc
25 researchers and scien-
tists by 2010. bac]
Nine scientists have
been confirmed to move trac]
into LSI.
"We really had a great fi
year with recruiting,"
Barry said. needs to
But recently, four sci-
entists, including chem- te pr
istry Profs. Gary Glick
and Carol Fierke, decid- trck kfan
ed not to join the LSIn"
team, saying they would on
rather stay within their first"p
departments at the Uni- -
versity..w i4
But University Presi-
dent Mary Sue Coleman never
said the LSI's approach , ,
to interdisciplinary work Orlgin
is something unique andb
different for long-time
researchers. -John Van
"It takes time when Biologyp
you're starting a new ini-
tiative," Coleman said.

lyrI
nk it
o get
k on
k - I
ink it
find
oper
Iget
athe
lace,
ch it
r did
ally.'
adermeer
professor

TONY DING/Daily
1. Lounge,
Chemistry lab
with the
ventilation hoods
2. Directors'
office
3. The modular
tables can be
moved around to
reconfigure space
at the
convenience of
faculty members
4. Lab fixtures

Anthropology Prof. Roberto Frisancho
recently said he thinks one of the problems
with recruiting faculty is that top profes-
sors might want relaxed teaching require-
ments, in order to fully pursue their
research interests.
"There's a very slight compo-
nent of that, but I don't think it's
a major issue," said Prof.
Richard Hume, chair of the
Molecular, Cellular and Devel-
opmental Biology Department.
Glick added that a position in
the LSI would have actually
reduced his teaching load.
"The LSI component would
have left me free to do Glick
research," Glick said.
Biology Prof. John Vander-
meer said he feels the LSI's
biggest problem is its lack of
direction.
Although he concedes that it
is "lavishly funded," Vander-
meer said the University rushed
into the project with very little
preparation.
"Universities should not go
into such endeavors without Flerke
careful thought about the ulti-
mate effect on the university environment,"
Vandermeer said.
"Such thought was never undertaken by
those who originally
planned the LSI." "tt ak s im
Vandermeer added
that he thought the pur- w n u
pose of the LSI's bio- Wven you re
medical research was starting a
to do drug research to
increase funds for new
pharmaceutical compa- ,

Tourbig the
halls o the
new ac//fr
By Ryan Vicko
Daily Staff Reporter
Staff and faculty have been hustling and
bustling for the past few weeks to move in to the
new Life Sciences Institute to get it up and running
so the University can begin to utilize its new
resources.
Planning the project was not easy, said LSI
spokesman Karl Bates.
"The question for U of M was: 'How are we
going to stay a leading institution in terms of
research and teaching? How are we going to pre-
pare students for this new future, and how are we
going to stay on the cutting edge ... of exploration
and learning?'"he said.
With the Dental School to the south and the
Power Center to the north, the six-story LSI towers
over Washtenaw Avenue and completes the ring of
buildings that encircle Palmer field. Last week's
grand opening marked the LSI as the first building
of the Life Sciences Initiative to open among four
currently under construction in the area.
Beginning at North University Avenue at the
Dental School, a walk leads to the third floor of the
institute. Inside, the ceilings are 15 feet high, and
large windows extend from the ceilings down to
about two feet from the ground, giving a sense of
connectivity to the outside and an illuminated
openness that is lively and modem.
LSI faculty member Dan Klionsky said, "I've
personally never seen anything like this."
Designed to bring together scientists from
diverse disciplines, the building will host 20 to 30
research teams headed by faculty at the University.
There are labs and offices spread throughout the
building as well as specialized rooms and facilities
to meet the needs of researchers.
The goal of the LSI's research is threefold, said
LSI Director Alen Saltiel. The first part is to under-
stand the way genes work in a complex setting in
terms of a person's susceptibility to disease. Sec-
ondly, scientists want to better understand the cell
and how it functions. Lastly, they seek to learn
more about the shapes and functions of proteins
within a cell and how the environment affects them.
By understanding these three basic phenomena,
scientists hope to develop new drugs and medical
treatments to combat diseases.
"The treatments we use now are pretty broad-
brush. For example, in cancer, chemotherapy is a
pretty indiscriminate approach to those very spe-
cific cancer cells ... we hope through basic sci-
ence research here to get better tools to go at
disease at the cellular level," said Bates. "You'll
end up with drugs that work better than the ones
now," and with less side-effects, he added.
On the sixth floor, the labs - called quads -
are concentrated in the center of the floor with var-
ious rooms unimpeded by doors so that equipment
can be shared.
"The quad is a great big open lab that holds 30
to 32 workers," Bates said, adding there are four on
each floor. "That's enough room for two - maybe
three - labs where people are all stirred in togeth-
er, and they share all their equipment rooms.... In
a scenario where you've got some more money
and you need to add equipment and people, the
building is designed modularly so you don't have
to bust out walls," Bates said.
Extra-long counters that offer 11 feet of space
per person, numerous gas outlets, shelves towering
to the ceiling and Ethernet jacks are also among
the various features of the laboratories.
Bates said the design is meant to ensure flexibil-
ity. The panels that enclose wiring and pipes can
be readily opened.
There are numerous rooms for equipment, and
storage space for things like tissue cultures. Freez-
ers generating excessive heat are set into side
rooms so as not to affect the temperature of the
rest of the lab space. The absence of doors further
integrates the different laboratories, making scien-
tists more accessible to one another.
The fourth through sixth floors are symmetrical,
with offices on the front and back of one axis and

meeting areas on the other. The meeting areas have
cushioned benches, refrigerators, sinks and white-
boards where people can relax and converse.
The LSI's interdisciplinary atmosphere makes
for a "much freer interchange of scientific ideas,"
said Klionsky. The third floor is host to the admin-
istrative offices and the largest conference room in
the building. The room is designed to hold up to
30 people, which is the number of faculty LSI
seeks to have. The LSI will bring together not only
a diverse array of faculty, but also students from a
variety of majors. "We will be involving students
at all levels and backgrounds in our labs," Klion-
sky said.
The LSI will be hiring roughly 300 people with
its $30 million startun fund. Manaaine Director

I
I

nies.
"A University-wide
committee should be
appointed to investi-
gate the direction of
the LSI in all its rami-
fications," Vandermeer

intiative:'
- Mary Sue Coleman
University president

said.
"Frankly, I don't think it needs to get
back on track - I think it needs to find the
proper track to get on in the first place,
which it never did originally."

l,

i- - - s f - tI

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