MSU approves new medical school research center

A rendering of the MSU medical research building that will be located on the site of the former GR Press building. (Feb. 6, 2015/Courtesy MSU)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The wrecking ball has a date with the old Grand Rapids Press building next month.

Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees approved construction on an $85 million research facility for the school’s College of Human Medicine Friday at the north-east corner of Monroe Avenue and Michigan Street.

The project is expected to be complete by the Fall of 2017, which is when MSU’s lease for its research space at Van Andel Institute will expire.

The former Grand Rapids Press building on the corner of Michigan and Monroe. (Feb. 6, 2015)
The former Grand Rapids Press building on the corner of Michigan and Monroe. (Feb. 6, 2015)

“One of the things that’s really exciting about it, we believe it will be a gateway to the medical mile,” said MSU Vice-President for Auxiliary Enterprises Vennie Gore during Friday’s MSU Board of Trustees meeting.

“It really has space that’s about collaboration so rather than having walls around the researchers there is an open lab, so what that means is a research group can be working on one particular item get an idea, go to another researcher and get another idea,” Gore said.

But beyond adding to the skyline, what does the new building mean to you?

24 researchers will move into the new 160,000-square-foot facility when it’s completed in late 2017. 12 more will be added in the near term, with further expansion planned for the future.

Those scientists will work on getting answers to questions like why are some people susceptible to Parkinson’s disease, and what’s happening to the brain of someone who develops Alzheimer’s?

“You’ll have a group of people who’ll devote almost all of their work day and life, really careers, to studying those kinds of questions,” MSU College of Human Medicine Dean, Dr. Marsha Rappley, MD, told 24 Hour News 8.

Those researchers will be joined by medical students who’ll need to understand the outcomes of the research. College and even high school students considering careers in the research field will work in those labs as well.

And they will work with outside groups like patient advocates to make sure the science is relevant to the patient.

“To understand what does it mean for a patient to live with this condition?” said Dr. Rappley. “And, how will we make sure that whatever great ideas we have about treatment it can actually be used by the patient and by the patient’s family.”

MSU says the research building will occupy about half of the old Grand Rapids Press site.

The university hopes to attract projects by public-private developers to “further enhance MSU’s vision for medical education and commercialization of science,” according to the College of Human Medicine’s website.



MSU – “Board of Trustees approves construction of Grand Rapids biomedical research center

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