The President’s Advisory Panel on the Biosciences is charged with developing a recommended strategy that will propel Michigan to the forefront in critical areas of life science research by optimally leveraging our comprehensive excellence. The overarching challenge is how to develop and then implement a life sciences research and education strategy that reaches across the entire enterprise, permeabilizes the barriers that exist between departments and schools, and allows us to make synergistic investments in faculty, students, and infrastructure that enhance the excellence and impact of research at the university. Put simply: how do we make the whole greater than the sum of its parts?


The panel is asked to address the following questions in fulfilling the charge:

Do we have the right array of biological and biomedical science departments, centers, and institutes and the appropriate governance structures to support the research and teaching priorities of the university in the years ahead?

Are there innovative or even potentially radical ideas we might consider for organizing the biological and biomedical sciences at the University? What are the most successful organizational and financial models for supporting multi-disciplinary approaches to life science and how might they be adapted to Michigan’s circumstances and scale? What types of incentives would be necessary to promote convergence amongst complementary disciplines?

How might we reorganize biological and biomedical education at the undergraduate and graduate levels given the presumption of convergence in life science research?

What can we do to enhance interactions between life scientists and faculty from the other natural & physical sciences, engineering, and clinical departments—and potentially draw in other areas of strength as well?

Mindful of the fact that even an institution of Michigan’s scale cannot be the best in all areas, what are our areas of greatest opportunity and where are the critical gaps that need to be filled for us to achieve excellence and impact in these areas?

How might we best take advantage of opportunities that come with the new Biological Sciences Building, the NCRC, and other existing and potentially new facilities? Which types of adjacencies are most important? How can space planning be used to promote interdisciplinary thinking by our faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows?

How can we better position ourselves to enhance the impact of our discoveries? What are the optimal incentives and pathways for developing our discoveries toward commercialization? How can we interact more effectively with private sector partners to bring the results of our research into practice and to collaborate with us or provide funding for us to pursue goals of common interest?


The panel will be led by the Provost and will begin meeting in the fall semester, 2014, with an interim report presented to the President by February 1, 2015, and a final set of recommendations due by the end of the winter semester, 2015.   The panel should engage in outreach to key stakeholders on campus as well as outside experts, and should also look to successful models at other universities and in the private or governmental sectors, but they should not be limited in their thinking to any existing frameworks.