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MSU Expanding Medical Research In Grand Rapids

MSU Grand Rapids Research Center artist rendering
Courtesy Image
MSU College of Human Medicine
A rendering of the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center

Next month, the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine will open a new research facility in Grand Rapids.

Dr. Norman Beauchamp photo
Credit Courtesy photo / MSU College of Human Medicine
MSU College of Human Medicine
Dr. Norman Beauchamp, Dean, MSU College of Human Medicine

For almost a decade, MSU has leased research space in Grand Rapids from the Van Andel Institute. This new building is the former site of the Grand Rapids Press newspaper. Demolition of that building and the construction of a six-story, 162,800 square foot research center came with a price tag of just over $88-million dollars. Donors include Richard and Helen DeVos, who gave $10-million, and Peter and Joan Secchia, who contributed another $5-million. Other money is coming from the MSU general fund and from tax exempt financing.

MSU College of Human Medicine Dean Dr. Norman Beauchamp credits university President Lou Anna Simon for bringing this dream to life. "The process of creating this really was the university president having a vision for strengthening the research at Michigan State University and having a passion for what we could do to improve health," Dr. Beauchamp states.

MSU research into Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury will move here from the Van Andel Institute. Dr. Jack Lipton, chair of Translational Science and Molecular Medicine, says the move will enhance their work. "We were promised when we first came here in 2009 that a building was eventually going to go up," Dr. Lipton explains. "We've been hosted by the Van Andel (Institute) for a few years, and that's been great, but we didn't have the ability to expand. This building is now an extension of the main campus."

Research into women’s cancers, prenatal and infant development and infertility will also move to the new facility next month. Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology Chair Dr. Richard Leach says his department has grown from just one researcher in Grand Rapids to a current total of 12. He continues that "this facility enables us to not only bring in state of the art equipment, but the design of this facility enables us to bring our researchers together in teams."

The move won’t be done all at once. Certain experiments can’t simply be relocated down the street; some researchers will wrap up projects at the Van Andel Institute before occupying space in the new facility.

The MSU Grand Rapids Research Center has scheduled a dedication ceremony for September 20th.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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