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July 19, 1999 (517) 335-6397


Governor Signs Bill Creating "Life Sciences Corridor" in Michigan


$1 billion over 20 years will develop new technologies

Governor John Engler today signed a bill funding a "life sciences corridor" that will make four of Michigan’s research institutions – Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the Van Andel Institute -- among the nation’s most important in the development of biotechnology applications.

"The development of important life-saving technology will make Michigan a major focus in the biotechnology industry," said Governor Engler at the bill signing at the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids. "From cancer research to treatment of cardiovascular disease, the potential of biotechnology applications is staggering."

The state will invest some $1 billion over 20 years to develop new technologies in the life sciences, including $50 million in Fiscal Year 2000. Other public and private sources are expected to invest billions more in this effort over time.

The Governor noted that his State Smart Report named the life sciences as one of the three industries targeted for high-technology development in Michigan.

Thanks to the efforts of Michigan U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham, the Michigan Health and Aging Research and Development Initiative is funded by the tobacco settlement. It will consist of three areas: 40 percent will go to the Basic Research Fund, which will be distributed on a competitive basis; 50 percent will go to the Collaborative Research and Development Fund with emphasis on testing or developing emerging discoveries; and 10 percent will go to a Commercialization Development Fund to start up companies and help ensure that they form and grow in Michigan.

Michigan State University President Peter McPherson said, "We are entering an age of explosive discovery in biotechnology; indeed, bioscience discovery will be to the 21st century what technological discovery was to the 20th century. The state of Michigan’s research institutions are well poised to collaborate. This combined intellectual capital promises improvements to human health and well being, discoveries that will translate into new drugs, new treatments and new processes to improve the quality of life."

Lee C. Bollinger, president of the University of Michigan, noted, "I am extremely please by the state’s decision to fund the life sciences corridor. The research universities in Michigan all recognize that the life sciences are entering an era of significant transformation. The state has shown great wisdom in committing these resources to the development of an educational and research capacity in this area – a commitment that has the potential to yield great benefits for our students and citizens.

"And I am pleased that the Governor and the legislature have chosen to take such a long-term view of the state’s well-being. At the University of Michigan, we look forward to working further with our colleagues at the other institutions."

Wayne State University President Irvin D. Reid added: "We are very enthusiastic about Governor Engler’s support for the Life Sciences Corridor. It will provide an unparalleled opportunity for the state’s three research universities working with private research organizations to accelerate developments that will benefit health and science around the globe. As one of the state of Michigan’s three outstanding national research universities, Wayne State University will contribute its significant talent and facilities for life sciences research to this endeavor. Our strengths complement those of the state’s other two research universities extraordinarily well. Coupled with the synergies created by our commitment to collaborative research, our work with the private sector will provide the catalyst for the state’s emergence as the leading life sciences enterprise in the nation. I applaud the Governor for his vision."

Nobel Laureate in Medicine Dr. Michael Brown of the Van Andel Institute added: "Medical science marches into the new millennium girded with weapons of unprecedented power and poised to conquer the most savage diseases. Through its substantial investment in medical research with the Life Sciences Corridor, the state of Michigan places itself at the forefront of this advancing army. The Van Andel Institute adds enormous power to this effort. The result will be better health for the citizens of Michigan and the world."

The Governor will appoint a 14-member steering committee to oversee the utilization of these dollars. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will administer the program.

"Michigan has been blessed with world-class research institutions," Engler added. "With this new focus, Michigan will not only benefit from the new high-tech companies, but countless people will benefit from new life-saving treatments."