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December 13, 2004 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-13

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 13, 2004 - 5A

Institute'sfuture uncertain after slow start

Continued from page 1A
from across the biomedical sciences,
LSI was founded in May 1999 from Uni-
versity and University Hospital reserve
funds. Two co-directors were named
- Scott Emr, a researcher at the Univer-
sity of California at San Diego, and Jack
Dixon, a medical sciences professor at
the University.
Then, in 2002, President Bollinger left
to become president at Columbia Univer-
sity. His decision precipitated a series of
departures among LSI's leadership.
First, Emr, who had not yet moved to
Ann Arbor, chose to remain at UCSD.
"My decision was based on two main
issues," Emr said in an e-mail message.
"The decision of Lee Bollinger to resign
as President of UM, which put my plans
to move my lab to UM on hold, and ...
a need to protect the interests of the stu-
dents and postdocs in my lab who could
not easily put their lives/careers on hold
while the UM began to search for a new
Subsequently, in July 2002, Dixon
resigned to take a faculty position at

people you're trying to recruit," Mat-
thews said. "When you have a big
change in leadership, you're really
starting from square one."
After a search for a new director,
the University selected Saltiel, former
director of the Department of Cell Biol-
ogy at Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical
Division (now Pfizer Global Research)
in Ann Arbor.
During the leadership turnover, numer-
ous top-level universities such as UCSD,
Princeton, Harvard and Stanford started
similar projects in the life sciences, steep-
ly increasing the competition for star fac-
ulty, said pathology chair Peter Ward.
"Suddenly the competition has taken a
quantum leap forward," Ward said. "The
pool of individuals who are highly sought
after is extremely small, and that's going
to be the basic factor in limiting these
institutions - not how much money you
can invest in bricks and mortar."
Princeton, for instance, has invested
$50 million in its Lewis-Sigler Institute
for Integrative Genomics, Ward said. The
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Duke University, the University of Penn-
sylvania and the University of Missouri
at Columbia are among others that
have begun LSI-like insti-
tutes on their cam-

to its promise," Matthews said.
Coleman promoted the idea of the LSI
charter faculty to speed recruiting and
fundraising efforts, Matthews added.
Although establishing such a seed group
of University researchers had been dis-
cussed prior to her arrival, Coleman
confirmed that she specifically pushed to
make the charter faculty a reality.
Like all LSI faculty, charter faculty
hold joint positions in the institute and in
a standard academic department.
"When you're recruiting people
from outside, you need to make sure
you have lines of communication
back to the departments, and I think
(a charter faculty) is a good way,"
Coleman said.
Charter faculty have been heavily
involved in recruiting since moving into
the institute this year, Matthews said.
She explained that all LSI faculty mem-
bers meet each potential faculty recruit
to ensure that recruits finds two or three
colleagues in the institute with whom he
would like to collaborate.
But the anonymous senior Medical
School professor criticized the choice to
create a charter faculty. "In an institution
this large, everybody thinks their work
is the most important," he said. "They
should have kept those egos aside and

Rackham student Abby Fahim does research at the Life Sciences Institute,

a drain.
Saltiel added that criticism of the
institute is unavoidable. "It's inevitable
that there will be people who think we
should have spent the money another
way," he said.
Overall, many faculty are optimistic
about the institute's future.
"I don't see enormous obstacles," Mat-
thews said. "What I feel very strongly
about is (the institute) is not only beau-
tiful for us the faculty, but it's a beauti-
ful environment for our students as well.
We're able to recruit really top people
- it's really a draw."
She said her own research has already
grown in unexpected ways from new
collaborations with other LSI faculty,
and she predicted that other research-
ers will form similarly successful part-
Likewise, Ward said he
believes the institute will
enhance biomedical sciences at
the University.
"I think beyond any question, ulti-
mately the judgment will be that this
was a very good initiative on Bollinger's
part," he said.
However, he cautioned that it might
take 10 or 20 years before a final assess-
ment can be made.
"You can only speculate now what it's
going to be like down the road," he said.
"You just have to wait and watch things

oped early on
among faculty who
feared the institute would take
resources away from existing biomedi-
cal departments. However, he said he
expects that through the joint appoint-
ment process, LSI will eventually become
"a tribute to the departments" rather than

UCSD. Dixon said he chose to leave part-
ly due to Bollinger's departure and partly
to move closer to family in the southern
California area.
Prof. Rowena Matthews, a member of
the institute's charter faculty, said Bol-
linger, Emr and Dixon's departures "set
back the pace of recruiting."
The term charter faculty refers to a
group of researchers selected from within
the University to populate the Institute.
"Recruiting is a very personal inter-
action between the directors and the

the University of Michigan, President
Mary Sue Coleman's arrival in 2002
helped stabilize LSI, Matthews said.
Coleman, a professor of biological chem-
istry, brought her own scientific expertise
to the table during discussions on LSI's
future. Matthews said White, who was
the University's interim president until
Coleman arrived and subsequently has
served as an LSI charter faculty member,
was also "enormously supportive."
"(Coleman and White) kept this place
from becoming a shell and not living up

The anon-
ymous profes-
sor also said the institute should have
searched more intensively outside the
University for senior-level stars in the
biomedical sciences by looking for
hidden talent as well as big names.
He claimed he is not alone among
University faculty in criticizing LSI.
However, of eight additional faculty
members contacted by the Daily, five
did not respond to repeated attempts to
contact them, and three declined to be
Chemistry Prof. David Lubman, in


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