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Posted on Sun, Jun 24, 2012 : 8 p.m.

U-M celebrates 3-year anniversary at former Pfizer campus with addition of 400 researchers

By Amy Biolchini

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Editor's note: This article has been corrected to note that about a quarter of the researchers are from the U-M School of Public Health.

A landmark achievement for the North Campus Research Complex coincides with the three-year anniversary of the University of Michigan’s purchase of the former Pfizer campus.

The NCRC will be home to the newly formed Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, an organization that unites about 400 health researchers from U-M and its partners.

The goal of the institute will be to use an interdisciplinary approach to make health care better, safer and more cost-effective. About half of the researchers are from the U-M Medical School, and a quarter are from the U-M School of Public Health.

The remainder of the research team are faculty members in U-M’s departments of Engineering; Pharmacy; Literature, Science and the Arts; Business; Dentistry; Law; Nursing; Public Policy and Social Work; and the Institute for Social Research.

The institute will join 20 private companies that lease space at NCRC - including BoroPharm and Lycera - and 18 U-M spinoff companies in the Venture Accelerator with which U-M is filling the 2 million square foot former Pfizer campus.

After global pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. announced in 2007 that they would be moving out of the site, U-M bought the property in 2009 for $108 million.

Of the IHPI members, 12 percent hold full or joint appointments at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, the Arbor Research Collaborative for Health and the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

“This cross-disciplinary and public-private nature of IHPI fits perfectly with the overall goal of making the North Campus Research Complex a haven for such research,” said David Canter, executive director of NCRC.

Last week, 80 researchers with the new institute moved into an office building at the NCRC that recently underwent a $13.7 million renovation.

There are currently about 1,300 researchers and staff from U-M and 20 private companies at the site.

In the next coming months, about 400 more researchers will join them. By December, about 440,700 square feet in the NCRC is expected to be in use.

“We truly expect IHPI to become the largest university-based collection of health services and healthcare policy researchers in the country, and to pursue research that will enhance the health and well-being of people locally, nationally and globally,” said Dr. Rodney Hayward, chairman of the interim leadership team that has guided IHPI’s formation over the past year.

The IHPI currently does not have a director.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

Actually, at one point, I think there were close to 5000 working there - maybe back when it was Warner Lambert Park-Davis - been awhile. Pfizer promised upwards of 10,000 working there while wining and dining our starry-eyed civic leaders a decade or so ago. The Hieftje-ites had visions of sugarplums, and public art on every street corner, dancing in their vacant heads. The Big U is just reducing the amount they pay for leased space by putting all these "related" entities in space it owns outright, so many of them are doubtless already employed by the University. The net gain in new jobs is , doubtless considerably less than it appears to be. If they were previously leasing from a private owner, he is now paying somebody less in taxes, unless the space has been re-leased.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

IIRC, at one time, there were more than 3,000 employees on PFizer's campus.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

And the mayor would still like to see bike racks with showers in the former Pfizer place. Yup. Still waiting for SPARK to ignite a sparkle to lure high paying jobs into the site. What? UM brought the place? No city taxes being paid? Of those 1,300 researchers, I wonder how many live in the city limits of Ann Arbor? Well, with Roger Fraser now gone, at least they won't have to worry about their salaries being taxed by the city.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Well the property sat empty for well over a year with no interested buyers, as the facilities degraded, before the State and Pfizer begged UM to repurchase the property and redevelop it. Now it's a hub if activity with public and private employers, thousands of employees earning and spending money locally. Do you think even if they transferred from from another location that that original location is now sitting empty? Doubtful.

say it plain

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 4:33 a.m.

probably about the same proportion of these folks live within the city limits of Ann Arbor *as the typical range of UM researchers* because my guess is something like 10% absolute maximum are *new* lol. They're just moving stuff around mostly, so far, but keep touting the numbers as though it's some sort of grand new initiative, and never asks them anything like a question about it all...

say it plain

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

Can you tell us, Ms. Biolchini, how many new hires are among the 400 researchers? Easy to get, no? Ask the UM folks something like "of the 400 researchers about to join the 1300 researchers and staff at NCRC, how many have just started working for the UM in the last year or so?"... Even better, something like "of the total number of UM-affiliated researchers currently or soon to be at NCRC, how many have been hired since the Pfizer property was purchased by UM?". Then, ooh, maybe more more about the plans for the IHPI, like how many *new* people will be hired, and how is that search for a director going? Thanks so much in advance!

Madeleine Borthwick

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.



Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Like so many interesting stories about UM seems to do nothing more than print the press release version of what is going on. I guess that is what happens when there is no real press to provide some timely , factual and serious investigative reporting. Lots of lessons to be learned, no one to do the work, with proper sources and story telling ?


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

This was the same story with the "Ann Arbor Snooze" before they went digital. The paper is decent for local stories, but most national stories, the jokes went, if you read it in the Detroit Free Press on Monday, you'll read it again in the Snooze on Thursday. Now, it seems worst. Even the local news doesn't get much investigative reporting.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

"The institute will join 20 private companies that lease space at NCRC ..." If these companies lease space and the U-M does not pay taxes is the U-M paying taxes on this rent?


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

"... on the billions of dollars U-M pumps into the local economy..." In the end most of those dollars are redirected tax payer money. In Ann Arbor it's called "...pumping money into the economy..." Back home in Detroit we use to call it welfare. What's the difference?


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

>> If these companies lease space and the U-M does not pay taxes is the U-M paying taxes on this rent? << I assume not; it is tax exempt, and this rent would probably not be UBIT (unrelated taxable income). But of course, U-M's employees and suppliers and contractors pay taxes on the billions of dollars U-M pumps into the local economy, so I can never figure out why we hear this constant refrain of complaint -- from a small number of underinformed or mean-spirited souls -- about U-M's nontaxable status. In the immortal words of -- who was that, Pogo? Will Rogers? -- kwitcherbellyakin.

say it plain

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

You folks do realize that none of these are "new hires", correct? If some are, please give us numbers! Aside from the private firms renting space from UM (and presumably UM doesn't pay taxes on that space they're renting out, or do they?), how many new hires are there, and at what pay-grades (that is, has UM hired some new bodies for security and maintenance and food service possibly, and *nothing* else? A little else? What?!)?

say it plain

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 11:16 p.m.

Okay, well, thanks @David Koziol, for your attempt at providing a story here lol... and I guess @Mike58 is also correct... we need to parse David Canter's words I suppose. How's about Ms. Biolchini do a little research for us?!


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

You need to listen closely to what David Canter says, or doesn't say.

Dave Koziol

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

At some events I've been at, David Canter made it clear that a fair number of the people at NCRC are people that are being hired because the departments now have more room or facilities. So, there actually are more new hires than just maintenance, and food service.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.

1,300 employed at the Research Complex now with 1,700 expected by year-end, including g 20 private companies presumably paying rent/taxes. Amazing growth and potential.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

Mmm...I wonder, of those 20 private companies who are they paying rent to?...UM as for taxes...good luck finding that answer. UM doesn't pay any.


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:15 a.m.

>> By December, about 440,700 square feet in the NCRC is expected to be in use. << Why does often doze off and fail to add easily-ascertained information that would put the reported facts in more useful context. Here, one obvious question is what percentage of the total is 440,700 square feet? Is that 12%? or 40%? or 75%? Put more generally, how on this simple measure is U-M doing in putting the space to work? Another issue. The article notes that U-M paid Pfizer $108 million for the package of land, buildings, equipment, etc. It might be useful to note that the $108 million U-M paid for the whole package is less that what U-M received from Pfizer (from doubtful memory, $140 million?) for a small, then-unimproved piece of land it sold to Pfizer a few years earlier, which parcel was included in the larger package conveyed back to U-M three years ago. Put this down to Pfizer generosity, U-M bargaining shrewdness, change of market conditions, or what you will.


Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Some fast facts: • 1,423 faculty, staff, students and private company employees work at NCRC • 294,000 square feet of laboratory and office space are now in use • 440,700 square feet, nearly half of available space, are expected to be in use by December • 73% of dedicated space is occupied by Medical School, 3% by Hospitals and Health Centers, 17% by other U-M units, 7% by non-U-M entities including the VA • 9 shared cores & facilities for scientists' use • 20 private companies lease space at NCRC • 179 events, with more than 20,000 attendees, have been held at NCRC since 2010


Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

When the site was for sale it was listed at 2,000,000 sqaure feet. This puts it at about 1/4 filled. That doesn't sound so spectacular.