Michigan’s top research universities together spent $1.2 billion on research and development in health and life sciences in 2015, according to a new report.
Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University – collectively known as the University Research Corridor – also created, on average, a new spinoff in the sector every other month for the past five years and are responsible for nearly 45 percent of Michigan’s health or life sciences degrees from 2011 to 2015.
The research universities on Thursday released a report outlining their economic impact in life and health sciences as part of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.
“The URC is a national power and an important source of talent when it comes to the life, medical and health sciences,” Jeff Mason, executive director of the University Research Corridor, said in a statement. “There are few places in the world able to conduct the types of research that occur at our institutions, and we are proud to support the continuation of such groundbreaking and historically important studies.”
The research cluster is a major player in an industry that employed more than 530,000 Michigan residents in 2015 – one in eight jobs in the state, according to the new report, conducted with Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants. Employment in medical fields and life and health sciences is up 18.9 percent since 2000, while total state employment is down 9.3 percent over the same period, the report shows.
Between 2012 and 2016, corridor researchers were responsible for 1,348 inventions, 380 U.S. patents, 32 new startup firms, $142 million in royalty payments and 433 new license agreements, according to the report. Its $1.2 billion R&D spending in 2015 was part of a total $6.2 billion over five years.
Future research needs in life and health sciences likely will focus on such issues as an aging population, cancer, genetic disorders, health disparities and safety in the food supply, according to the report. Precision medicine, 3-D printing and information technology for data collection and analysis are new techniques likely to inform future research.
The corridor cited examples of recent discoveries – at Wayne State, work on screening pregnant women for risk factors associated with preterm births; at the University of Michigan, a drug that could address a metabolic response that could help diabetes treatment; and at MSU, a possible treatment for melanoma.
“Every day, MSU researchers and health care professionals strive to tackle those big challenges, which require diverse perspectives and expertise, harnessed through partnerships and collaborations,” Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon said in a statement.
Regarding talent, the research universities say they have awarded 54 percent of all dentistry degrees, 99 percent of medical degrees and all osteopathic and veterinary medicine degrees in the state. Of all practicing physicians in Michigan, the report says, 42 percent attended one of the three research universities.