Faculty panel will examine ways to leverage U-M excellence in biosciences


President Mark S. Schlissel said Thursday he will work with faculty to develop strategies that will allow the university to fully take advantage of the excellence spread among its schools, colleges, institutes and other academic centers.

“In other words, how do we make our strength greater than the sum of our many excellent parts?” he asked.

As a first step, Schlissel announced he would convene a panel of distinguished U-M faculty members to focus on the biological sciences. The President’s Advisory Panel on the Biosciences will develop a research and education strategy that leverages the university’s strengths in the life sciences.

The 17-member panel will be chaired by Provost Martha E. Pollack and includes leading faculty members across a range of disciplines from biology, chemistry and psychology to the neurosciences, math and biomedical engineering.

Schlissel made the announcement during his keynote address to open the 2014 MCubed Symposium at Rackham Auditorium. MCubed is a university research initiative that provides seed funding to faculty members engaging in projects across disciplines.

Schlissel praised the “entrepreneurial spirit that has created the breadth of excellence across our 19 schools and colleges,” along with the “remarkable collaborative ethos among the faculty” that has led to high-impact research.

He said new strategies, developed in conjunction with the faculty, would provide the right resources and tools to take collaboration to a higher level, allowing units to plan together so their investments in infrastructure, faculty and programs are purposefully complementary.

“There are very few big problems in this world that can be solved by single disciplines, and when our faculty aspire to take them on, I want them to have the freedom and the support necessary to achieve those ambitions,” he said, citing obesity, poverty, and clean air and water as examples.

“This is a big job, made no less difficult because we are a big place, so getting the right people in the room is crucial,” the president said.

The panel will begin its work immediately with an interim report due to the president by Feb. 1, 2015. A final set of recommendations will be due by the end of the 2015 winter semester.

The official charge to the panel reads, in part, “The overarching challenge is how to develop and then implement a life sciences research and education strategy that reaches across the entire enterprise, permeabilizes the barriers that exist between departments and schools, and allows us to make synergistic investments in faculty, students, and infrastructure that enhance the excellence and impact of research at the university. Put simply: How do we make the whole greater than the sum of its parts?”

Members of the advisory panel, chaired by Pollack, include:

• Huda Akil, Gardner C. Quarton Distinguished University Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry; co-director and research professor, The Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute.

• Ruma Banerjee, associate chair and Vincent Massey Collegiate Professor of Biological Chemistry, Medical School.

• Liz Barry, special counsel to the president, Office of the President.

• Dana Dolinoy, associate professor of environmental health sciences, School of Public Health.

• Dr. Kojo Elenitoba-Johnson, Henry Clay Bryant Professor of Pathology, Medical School.

• Dr. Eric Fearon, Emanuel N. Maisel Professor of Oncology, professor of internal medicine, professor of human genetics, and professor of pathology, Medical School; associate director for basic science and deputy director, Comprehensive Cancer Center; chief of the Division of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School.

• Carol Fierke, Jerome and Isabella Karle Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry, professor of chemistry, chair of the Department of Chemistry, LSA; professor of biomedical chemistry, Medical School.

• Rich Gonzalez, professor of psychology, professor of statistics, LSA; professor of marketing, Stephen M. Ross School of Business; research professor, Research Center for Group Dynamics and Institute of Social Research; research professor, Center for Human Growth & Development.

• Trachette Jackson, professor of mathematics, LSA.

• Joerg Lahann, professor of chemical engineering, professor of materials science and engineering, professor of biomedical engineering, professor of macromolecular science and engineering, and director of the Biointerfaces Institute, College of Engineering.

• Anna Mapp, Edwin Vedejs Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, professor of chemistry, LSA; research professor, Life Sciences Institute; director, Chemical Biology Program, Rackham Graduate School.

• Doug Noll, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Professor of Biomedical Engineering, co-director, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facility, professor of biomedical engineering, College of Engineering; professor of radiology, Medical School.

• Thomas Schmidt, professor of internal medicine, professor of microbiology and immunology, Medical School; professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, LSA; professor of engineering, civil and environmental engineering, College of Engineering.

• James Shayman, professor of internal medicine and professor of pharmacology, Medical School.

• Dr. Stephen J. Weiss, E. Gifford and Love Barnett Upjohn Professor of Internal Medicine and Oncology, professor of internal medicine, Medical School; research professor, Life Sciences Institute.

• Haoxing Xu, associate professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, LSA.

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