Victors for Discovery

Campaign Case Statement:
Victors for Discovery

AThe lab of Georgios Skiniotis (second from right) uses cryo electron microscopy to visualize and understand molecules, proteins and receptors in the human body involved in diseases like cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes and bacterial infection. t the Life Sciences Institute, we push to explore new frontiers – at both the smallest microscopic level and across the globe. The human health problems we are working to solve are urgent, complex and serious. Progress requires innovation, collaboration and uncompromising commitment to excellence.

We strive to understand the molecular underpinnings of cancer, neurodegenerative disease, obesity and diabetes, viral infection and pediatric disorders. The scientific discoveries of today will lead to new treatments and drugs and shape the biomedical world of future generations.

Three reasons to support the Life Sciences Institute

1. Because human health can’t wait: High-impact science

Breakthroughs in science require great scientists—scientists who are equipped with the latest tools and technologies, and the highest level of support.

In the lab of David Sherman, researchers extract potential antibiotics, anti-cancer and other active compounds produced by marine microorganisms. The LSI is home to leading investigators in the fields of molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, genetics, bioinformatics and physiology who are united in their dedication to solving urgent problems in human health. Together, LSI researchers have made rapid progress in answering essential questions such as, “How does cancer spread through the body?” “How does obesity cause diabetes?” and “How do deadly viruses evade the human immune systems?” Addressing these questions from multiple angles has led to the development of promising new treatments, drugs and vaccines with the potential to greatly improve human health, longevity and well being in individuals and populations around the world.

With philanthropic support, we can successfully recruit these top scientists in a highly competitive global market. Support for endowed professorships, technology acquisition and development, disease-specific consortia and basic research projects are all ways in which philanthropy makes possible high-risk, high-impact science that will change the scientific landscape.

2. Because the problems are complex: Collaboration and entrepreneurship 

Daniel Klionsky, left, is an international leader in the research of autophagy (literally "self-eating"), a fundamental and critical cellular process that malfunctions in diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's disease. There is little doubt that scientists can achieve more working together than alone.

Through its distinct architectural design and a range of programs and collaborative research centers, the LSI increases the number of high-impact discoveries and accelerates the translation of those discoveries into treatments for patients. LSI initiatives catalyze interactions among its scientists, across the university and between U-M and labs around the world. Innovative programs help bridge the gap between academia and industry.

Philanthropy supports numerous collaborative and entrepreneurial initiatives at the LSI: The Center for the Discovery of New Medicines leverages the wide range of drug-discovery technology and expertise at U-M, enabling academics to venture into the world of experimental therapeutics. The Center for Chemical Genomics brings together biologists who have new disease targets with chemists who design potential drugs. The Center for Structural Biology allows scientists to merge visualization of molecular structure with understanding of function. The UM/Israel Partnership for Research catalyzes international collaboration and the sharing of resources between leading scientists in Israel and Michigan. The Innovation Partnership provides support to help investigators move discoveries across the “valley of death” between public funding and commercial investment.  And a partnership with the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan gives MBA students hands-on experience with the bench-to-bedside process for commercializing novel and innovative medical discoveries from scientific labs.

3. Because science never stops: The next generation

Graduate students like (left to right) Gabriella Sterne, Kärt Tomberg and Elizabeth Adams are fully integrated in the LSI labs and go on to establish labs and conduct research at other leading institutions.

The LSI is committed to educating the scientific leaders of tomorrow, and to providing the critical support that propels excellent students to become excellent scientists.

At the LSI, students of all levels, from undergraduate to doctoral, work side-by-side with leading scientists. Graduate Fellowships enable the most talented students to join a community of globally oriented, collaboratively minded and highly creative scientists who share a belief that trusted colleagues from other fields can be your strongest professional assets. The Program in Chemical Biology provides mentorship and hands-on lab experience for aspiring young chemists who hope to enter the world of biological sciences. For all students, time spent in the LSI provides practical experience in lab work and exposure to an entrepreneurial philosophy.

As state funding for tuition decreases, the responsibility for supporting students increasingly falls to individual faculty members. But pressure from decreasing federal funding limits the amount of support labs can provide their students. Donors who are passionate about science and concerned about the threat to future generations of scientists can make a difference through their support of these educational programs.