Three town halls in the coming weeks are designed to gather input from University of Michigan faculty members about President Mark Schlissel’s Biosciences Initiative and its goal of creating globally leading research programs focused on solving critical problems.
A key element of the initiative will be the hiring of 30 tenure-track faculty members over the next five years and a one-time investment of $150 million. The initiative has set a goal of releasing a Request for Applications to fund Biosciences Initiative projects by early next year.
The Biosciences Initiative will seek proposals that leverage existing U-M strengths or attempt to advance critical emerging areas in the biosciences. Proposed scientific initiatives should take advantage of the breadth of biosciences research at the university, may be transdisciplinary in nature, and can be used to recruit new faculty.
The upcoming town halls are designed to get faculty input on the scientific initiatives program and comments about the overall Biosciences Initiative.
“The committee is not looking to weigh in on the merit of particular areas of research at the town halls. Rather, what we’re really seeking from the faculty at this time are creative ideas around how the Biosciences Initiative process can stimulate the best, most cutting-edge proposals that will lead to forward looking, high-impact scientific research initiatives across the university,” said Roger Cone, vice provost and director of the Life Sciences Institute.
“We will also seek input on structuring future efforts to fund education, core research resources and administrative improvements,” said Cone, who chairs the 16-member Biosciences Initiative Coordinating Committee, sponsor of the town halls.
The town halls are aimed at U-M faculty members who work in the biosciences and related fields. The events will be:
• Nov. 28, 3:30-5 p.m., Northeast Room, Pierpont Commons.
• Dec. 7, 3-4:30 p.m., Vandenberg Room, Michigan League.
• Dec. 14, 3-4:30 p.m., Ford Amphitheater, University Hospital.
“The potential for our faculty to integrate across disciplines and make truly novel contributions to human understanding is just astounding,” Schlissel said. “I am thrilled that faculty from many disciplines across U-M will have the opportunity to engage in our Biosciences Initiative.”
At the town halls, members of the coordinating committee will also discuss plans to provide up to $1.6 million of initiative funds annually to the Biological Sciences Scholars Program, in order to expand the BSSP program across all the biosciences. The BSSP, which began in 1998 and is based at the Medical School, provides funds to recruit outstanding young scientists in key areas of life sciences investigation.
Most of the BSSP funding has been used to recruit young researchers to the Medical School. New funding from the Biosciences Initiative will broaden the program’s reach to better represent U-M units outside of the medical school, Cone said.
“The Biological Sciences Scholars Program has been incredibly successful in helping search committees and departments recruit at the highest level, mainly at the medical school,” he said. “Now it will operate across all of the biosciences.”