Don’t forget the future: Medical research funding at a crossroads

Detroit Free Press guest column, Nov. 2, 2014

microscope.fwThe contributions of medical research to understanding health and treating disease are a modern miracle.

If our nation hadn’t spent the last decade cutting funding for medical research, might we have an Ebola vaccine by now? Or made breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, developed new approaches to treating heart disease, or made progress against antibiotic-resistant infections?

The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, we will never know what might have been possible.

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Do you want to know about financial ties your doctor may have with drug and medical device companies?

Sunshine Act surveyA new federal law requires that financial relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical (drug) or medical device companies be shared with the public on a government website.

Anyone will be able to use this website to see if their doctor has received such payments or other transfers of value.

This law is officially called the “National Physician Payment Transparency Program” or “Open Payments.” It is part of the Affordable Care Act. It is most often referred to as the “Sunshine Act.”

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Put some science on your wall with these beautiful images available at the Ann Arbor Art Fair

"Branching Out" 2014 - BioArtography

“Branching Out” by Greg Dressler, Ph.D., a professor in the Medical School. It shows the structures of a developing kidney.

This week, the streets of downtown Ann Arbor will fill with art lovers, perusing the wares offered at hundreds of artists’ booths at the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair.

But at one booth down on East University Avenue, the “artists” all have day jobs — as research scientists.

And the images they create aren’t just beautiful. They come from laboratory studies that might save lives.

It’s science art at its finest – and all of it has a University of Michigan connection.

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Violins in the O.R.? French horns in the lab? U-M Life Sciences Orchestra blends music & medicine

Free concert April 27 features U-M doctors, scientists, dentists and others

Dr. Ellen Janke, LSO

Dr. Ellen Janke checks her violin’s “vital signs”

When patients and visitors come to U-M’s medical campus, they often hear the sound of music provided by the Gifts of Art program – whether it’s a harp playing in the waiting area near the operating rooms, a guitarist visiting the room of a hospitalized child, or a jazz band playing a free lunchtime concert on a Thursday in the main lobby of University Hospital.

But on Sunday nights, some of U-M’s doctors, nurses, scientists, dentists and  students gather to make music of their own — in the Life Sciences Orchestra. For the last 14 years, the LSO has given these health and science professionals an outlet for their own musical talents — and let them meet people from across the vast U-M life science community.

This Sunday, April 27, the LSO will play a free concert for the community at U-M’s famed Hill Auditorium. Continue reading

U-M and MedImmune join forces to accelerate search for new therapies

Leaders from the University of Michigan Medical School and MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, have signed a new agreement to work together on a broad range of projects.

Max Wicha, M.D.

Max Wicha, M.D.

The three-year strategic collaboration will bring scientists from one of the nation’s top medical research institutions together with scientists from one of the world’s leading developers of biologic therapies.

“We are thrilled to partner with MedImmune in a collaborative and creative way to bring new innovations to market,” says Steven Kunkel, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research at the U-M Medical School and Endowed Professor of Pathology Research. “This strategic partnership, one of the first of its kind for our institution, speaks to our desire to collaborate with industry to accelerate translation of U-M’s cutting-edge research to impact patients.”

The partnership will initially focus on oncology,  leveraging the strength of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. U-M cancer scientists, led by center director Max Wicha, M.D., have won more research grant dollars from the National Cancer Institute than researchers at any other academic medical center.

“Working with MedImmune to explore new ways to target treatments is a natural progression of the basic scientific discoveries that our teams have made in the last decade,” says Wicha, who is also the Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the U-M Medical School.

UMMS and MedImmune scientists will cooperate on studies that aim to translate scientific discoveries from the laboratory into new candidates for treating cancer as well as heart disease, digestive disease, lung disease and diseases caused by inflammation. Continue reading