Alumn/aei and Friends,
June in Ann Arbor, with its summer green — not only in the
lawns and foliage but in the traditional velvet of our new
graduates' hoods — is a time that brings reminders of the
cycles of renewal that grace not only nature but academic
institutions as well.
Graduation ceremonies represent achievement, but they also
represent growth and new opportunities. For the Medical School
itself, such new directions are also on the horizon. As you
will read in Gil Omenn's letter in this issue, the Health System
recently completed an intensive strategic planning process that
will ultimately lead to important changes in the way we teach,
conduct research and care for patients.
The rise of managed care and the increased emphasis on outpatient
treatment have already brought changes in how we prepare medical
students to serve their patients. The Strategic Plan has identified
several curricular innovations that we will begin implementing
over the next few years. These include an increased emphasis
on ambulatory care experiences, new reliance on Web-based educational
tools and an enhanced effort to improve the teaching skills
of our faculty. Such innovations are necessary to maintain our
role as one of America's leading academic medical institutions,
a role of which we have been made especially aware during the
celebration of our Sesquicentennial and the many great achievements
that are part of the School's history.
Biomedical research is also being restructured and improved
at Michigan. The Life Sciences Initiative is well underway,
and will do much to help us coordinate and expand research and
teaching in such rapidly advancing fields as genomics, chemical
and structural biology, cognitive neuroscience and bioinformatics,
as well as in other areas of study that bear on and are influenced
by the life sciences.
The Life Sciences Institute, a research complex that will serve
as a hub for cross-disciplinary research and teaching in the
life sciences, is part of the Initiative. Both the Initiative
and the Institute are important elements in the state of Michigan's
Life Sciences Corridor, a billion-dollar project to invest in
and promote life sciences research and business development.
Organized by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation,
the Corridor includes the University of Michigan, Michigan State
University, Wayne State University and the Van Andel Institute
in Grand Rapids.
We intend to play our part in keeping the University and the
state in the forefront of biomedical research and the translation
of that research into products and services that enhance life.
In conjunction with the Life Sciences Initiative, we are examining
ways to improve the research enterprise at the Medical School,
including designing a spectacular new research building to house
researchers by program and theme, as opposed to department,
in order to facilitate collaboration among disciplines. Construction
of this new research building will begin next year. The building
will be on the north side of Washtenaw Avenue, west of Couzens
Hall. Across Washtenaw, on the south side, will be the new Life
Sciences Institute. The two buildings, the Medical School's
new building and the Life Sciences Institute, will be linked
by a pedestrian bridge over Washtenaw Avenue. Many of our colleagues
in the Institute will have primary and joint appointments in
the Medical School.
This new Initiative, and the Medical School's refocused efforts
to foster and support faculty research, make this an exciting
time to be dean. I am pleased to be able to oversee this important
evolution and growth of the Medical School.
By now you should have received an invitation to the Sesquicentennial
Celebration/All-Classes Reunion that will take place October
13-14. The event is a wonderful opportunity for all the classes
of the Medical School to be together for what promises to be
a festive occasion and to celebrate the outstanding work of
the many men and women who, over the past 150 years, have helped
make the Medical School the strong and proud institution that
it is today. I hope you'll be a part of this historic event
and join me in looking forward to the beginning of an even greater
future for the Medical School.
Allen S. Lichter, M.D.