The Life Sciences Institute explores biological processes, structures and functions at the finest scale to create impact on a global scale.

Faculty members and students working at the X-ray source
Where inquisitive minds converge, extraordinary discoveries emerge.

Ours is a place that encourages new ideas, asking big questions, and seeking bold solutions. We combine a disciplined approach with extraordinary tools, inquisitive minds and a spirit of exploration to solve life's biggest health challenges.

Our world-class faculty members have broad and diverse expertise — ranging from cell biology to medicine, from chemistry to structural biology. And the LSI provides them with a research home purposefully designed to foster creative risk taking, interdisciplinary collaboration and professional growth.

Our approach is to provide superior scientific tools and administrative support, allowing each faculty member to spend more time focused on what really matters — their research.

Research Areas

Why does cancer start? How does it spread? How are key growth and nutrient pathways involved? LSI researchers are asking fundamental questions about basic biological processes and, when things go awry, how they give rise to cancer.
Obesity and metabolic disease now affect more than a billion people across the planet. LSI researchers are shedding new light on the biological mechanisms that regulate energy storage, tissue development and disease progression.

At a fundamental level, much about how cells organize and regulate their activities remains unclear. LSI researchers are probing the most basic processes of living organisms to shed new light on human health and disease.

Of all the organs, the brain remains the most mysterious. LSI researchers are exploring vital questions across many areas — like the regulation of the senses, and the molecular underpinnings of neurodegeneration and neurological disease.

You'll find LSI faculty doing exciting work that spans the boundary between the disciplines of chemistry and biology. We have particular strength in natural products — harnessing the power of chemistry that evolved within microorganisms.

We seek to understand the fundamental mechanisms that regulate stem cells. This knowledge provides new insights into human health and disease, and may point the way toward the development of new treatments.

Genetic analysis plays a key role in basic science research at the LSI — from investigating why patients react differently to radiation therapy, to understanding blood clotting disorders, to studying how sensory information can influence genetic programs related to longevity. 

Form is the gateway to function. By solving three-dimensional structures of proteins in their folded forms, scientists can glean important insights into how they work. LSI faculty have expertise in X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy.

LSI scientists are using their expertise to understand and defeat deadly pathogens that have devastating effects across the globe — from Zika and other flaviviruses to antibiotic-resistant "super bugs."
With partnerships across U-M and around the world, the LSI covers a lot of ground in the pursuit of groundbreaking knowledge.