Expanding research hub will drive region’s economy


In 2010, Michigan State University, in a landmark decision, greatly raised the profile of the Medical Mile and Michigan’s Life Sciences Corridor with its opening of the College of Human Medicine’s Secchia Center across from Van Andel Institute. 

The university is significantly augmenting its life sciences commitment in Grand Rapids with the additional development of the Grand Rapids Research Center and elevating the economic impact region-wide. The university this month issued its Request For Qualifications for its new center, to be located at Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue after leveling the former Grand Rapids Press building.

The medical school’s need for a biomedical research center has grown, in part, due to a lack of lab availability through its life sciences partners at the VAI and at Grand Valley State University’s College of Health Professions next door, and is crucial to the growth of MSU and research funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The burgeoning MSU campus in downtown Grand Rapids will have tremendous impact in improving the region’s college attainment and household income percentages, as well as being a significant domino in the economic impact of the region’s growing life sciences, medical device and pharmaceutical businesses. The Right Place Inc has ranked such economic activity in the top three spurs for growth.

The Michigan University Research Corridor, an alliance between MSU, University of Michigan and Wayne State University, ranked second among seven other U.S. university research clusters in six states, according to an Anderson Economic Group report. The comparisons included North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, California Innovation Hubs and Massachusetts’ Route 128 corridor. The seventh annual report was released earlier this year.

The MSU Grand Rapids Research Center is expected to be completed in 2017, providing space for 36 principal investigators and their respective teams — many of whom already have been recruited or are currently working and learning in Grand Rapids.

Jeffrey Dwyer, Ph.D., associate dean for research and community engagement at the College of Human Medicine, told the Business Journal: “Biomedical research and life sciences research is growing substantially in this region, and many of our close partners are growing their research, as well. So I think what is not just interesting about this, but what is really important about this, is certainly this addresses a need we have at Michigan State University, but the fact of the matter is the region needs more of this kind of space, in general, because this is becoming a place that many different institutions are successfully recruiting people to, who are doing exciting and important work.”

MSU anticipates searching for an additional six to nine investigators over the next three years.

The development marks another significant stride forward for the region.

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