Programs & Initiatives

The forefront of life sciences is happening here.

The Life Sciences Institute is a place of discovery. Our next-level tools, our exceptional people, our spirit of collaboration — it is all in service of pushing science forward with intensity and urgency. 

We are focused on scientific priorities that build on our culture of creativity, agility and scientific rigor.

Structural Biology

Aquilos microscope

Structural biology is a strength and area of emphasis within the LSI. Obtaining the three-dimensional structures of biological machines provides important insights into how they work — and potential ways to target them therapeutically. The LSI is home to the Center for Structural Biology, a comprehensive cloning, protein purification and macromolecular X-ray crystallography facility, that includes access to high-energy synchrotron radiation. We also house a world-class cryo-electron microscopy laboratory. These technological resources and specialized expertise support biological research and drug discovery across the university, as well as external academic and industry partnerships. Structural biology continues to be a focus for additional investments in infrastructure and expertise at the LSI.

Developing the Next Generation

Perrigo Fellow working in the lab

At the LSI, our goal is to train not just the next generation of scientists, but the next generation of scientific leaders. We have numerous programs and initiatives for students and trainees — from high school through postdoctoral work — as well as social events and opportunities to interact with top scientists visiting the U-M campus.

Collaborative Character

LSI faculty Member David Sherman's research was featured in the Spring 2018 issue of The Michigan Engineer.

In its science, the LSI seeks to transcend both disciplines and national borders. Our faculty all hold joint appointments in schools and colleges across the university in addition to the LSI. And we engage in numerous scientific collaborations across the campus. 

Meanwhile, we are globally focused, too. LSI faculty members have collaborated with researchers on every continent, including Antarctica. Our largest pools of community members from outside of the U.S. come from China, India and Japan. In recent years, our faculty and trainees have also included individuals from Barbados, Canada, Chile, Greece, Jamaica, Korea, Iran, Sweden and Vietnam — to name just a few.

Fueling Innovation

For the LSI, basic science — deepening human understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of life — has always been our primary focus.

As Vannevar Bush wrote, "Basic research leads to new knowledge. It provides scientific capital. It creates the fund from which the practical applications of knowledge must be drawn."

Still, LSI research frequently leads to potential opportunities to improve human health. Several formal programs support these efforts.

Conceived of and designed by LSI’s Leadership Council, the Innovation Partnership supports LSI faculty with funding and mentorship for translational applications of promising projects that have clear potential to benefit human health.

The Klatskin-Sutker Discovery Fund supports LSI investigators to accelerate projects that are scientifically excellent, have potential for high impact on human health, involve collaborative work across disciplines and are unlikely to be funded through traditional grants.

Along with other campus bioscience units, the LSI is a co-sponsor of Michigan Drug Discovery, which offers guidance and early-stage funding to investigators across U-M to help translate exciting basic science discoveries into future treatments and medicines.

Drug discovery grants support academic drug discovery efforts in core laboratories at the LSI and College of Pharmacy — including high-throughput screening, structural biology studies, pharmakokentics and medicinal chemistry.