World-Renowned Science Association Evaluating 297 Applications
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today it received 297 responses to the 2002 Michigan Life Sciences Corridor Fund request for proposals (RFP).The pre-proposals received will now be reviewed by a scientific organization in the next step toward determining which projects will share this year’s approximately $45 million in funding.
“As we expected, the quality of this year’s proposals is remarkable,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and chairman of the Michigan Life Sciences Steering Committee.“Although it will be difficult to determine the best of these proposals, the projects chosen for funding will certainly produce promising new research and commercialization opportunities.”
The state of Michigan has committed $1 billion over 20 years from its tobacco settlement money to energize the life sciences industry here, particularly in what is known as the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor (MLSC).The corridor extends roughly from Detroit to Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas, including the cities of Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Kalamazoo.Three major public research universities and the Van Andel Institute are specifically included in the corridor.
However, groups and companies from anywhere in Michigan can submit proposals for Life Sciences Corridor funding.
This initiative has already seen tremendous success from the last round of funding awards.For example, on March 15, 2001, a young Michigan man became the first person in the world to be treated with a bioartificial kidney, thanks to a Life Sciences Corridor grant provided to Nephros Therapeutics, Inc. of Ann Arbor.
This year’s proposals look to be equally impressive with a new area of research concentration.Approximately 40 of this year’s proposals focus on what could be considered “anti-bio-terrorism” products, reflecting a new national concern for the threat of biological weapons.
The prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is evaluating the 297 pre-proposals. The organization publishes Science magazine and with 135,000 members is the world’s largest association of scientists and engineers.
Based on its initial evaluation, the AAAS will recommend a number of the pre-proposals for further consideration. At its February 6, 2002 meeting, the Michigan Life Sciences Steering Committee will use the recommendations to determine which applicants will be invited to submit full proposals for peer review by the AAAS. The deadline for full proposals is March 28, 2002.
“The Michigan Life Sciences Corridor awards generate considerable interest from public and private sector researchers throughout the state,” said Dr. Michael Orth, assistant professor of Growth Biology at Michigan State University. “That fact makes the process highly competitive, but it also means that we can expect to see some very high-quality products coming out of the research and commercialization efforts funded.”
Orth collaborated with two other scientists on a proposal to research bone cells with the goal of developing new therapies for osteoporosis. Such collaboration is required in one of the three MLSC categories, and highly recommended in the other two.
“Collaboration is really the key to getting the great research being done in our public universities transformed into viable products in the marketplace,” Rothwell said. “These awards act as a catalyst for bringing life-saving and life-enhancing products to the consumer, while also building companies that will create thousands of new jobs for Michigan workers in the coming years.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.
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