The National Eye Institute, an NIH agency dedicated to vision research, recently announced the winners of their Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation, or the Audacious Goals Challenge for short. The competition was open to professionals and members of the public and called upon them to think big and bold about vision research goals for the next decades. The prize money was nominal ($3,000) but included an invitation and travel money to attend and present their ideas at the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting in Maryland later this month. The real prize, of course, was the opportunity to help set research and funding goals for the next 10-12 years. Of the 500 or so proposals submitted, 10 visionaries were selected as winners.
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The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is one of the most richly funded markets in the country for biotechnology vendors and lab suppliers, as recent NIH and NSF research funding statistics show. In 2012, the NIH gave the University of Michigan $456.3 million in research funding. The money has been awarded to various departments for research projects including:
Earlier this week, we discussed the commercialization of neural interface chips at the University of Utah. Meanwhile, at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, researchers are innovating in neuroscience on an even smaller scale. A new, slimmer electrode allows for the more precise studying of individual neurons and promises insight on the workings of the mind based on the interactions between neurons and the brain.
Our sense of smell is something we often take for granted. Besides allowing us to take in such wonderful aromas as flowers or fresh-baked cookies, our olfactory receptors help us keep a healthy appetite and tell us when to steer clear of hazards like pollution or spoiled food. Therefore, it’s concerning that olfactory dysfunction affects one in every hundred Americans under the age of 65, and over 50% of the population over 65. Fortunately, researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor have made recent breakthroughs in the restoration of smell to those who have lost it over time or were born without it.
One of the most prestigious scientific awards, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), has been awarded to not one University of Michigan Ann Arbor researcher, but three! This award, started in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, was founded to recognize "the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America's preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions," as per a White House press release. These scientists are nominated by eleven different US government departments and agencies including the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services, as well as the National Science Foundation.
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Plans are underway at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor for a new science research building which will serve as a nursing education facility. The building was recently proposed to the Board of Reagents and will likely cost over $50 million.
There's been a lot of news coming out of Chicago this week from the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Two announcements concerning prostate cancer research are especially worth broadcasting. An Ann Arbor pathologist, Arul M. Chinnaiyan, of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, will be leading a "dream team" of specialists from 5 of the top cancer research institutes in the world in a $10M, 3-year research project titled “Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer.” The funding comes from AACR partner, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). Heading up the team with Dr. Chinnaiyan is Dr. Charles L. Sawyers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
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The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has been producing top scientists for a long time. One notable alum, who went on to found the research science company SAIC, has recently donated $15 million to his alma mater, ensuring that Michigan will continue to train and support future generations of innovative engineers. In honor of this generous gift, the University will name its new engineering building on the North Campus after the donor and his wife, hence the Bob and Betty Beyster Building for Computer Science and Engineering. This isn't Robert Beyster's first gift to UM Ann Arbor either. In recent years, he has contributed toward research in biofuels, cloud computing and security, and gene therapeutics. He has also funded a class on employee ownership though the Center for Entrepreneurship. Michigan has one of the top engineering programs in the country.
Acquiring the 28-building, 2.1 million sf former Pfizer complex on the north side of its Ann Arbor campus, renamed the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), was a coup for the University of Michigan in 2009. (Read our earlier blog on the NCRC.) While some labs were filled quickly, planning, retrofitting, and moving into that much space doesn't happen overnight, so administrators developed a master plan for occupancy. That timeline has the complex reaching capacity by the end of this year, 2012, and they are ahead of schedule.