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Posted on Fri, May 20, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

New University of Michigan health care innovation institute to bring 500 researchers to ex-Pfizer site

By Kyle Feldscher

A new health care policy institute will occupy the former Pfizer site on the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor, bringing 500 researchers together from across multiple disciplines.

The Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation will require a $13.7 million renovation project on Building 16, located on the northeast side of the northeast Ann Arbor property, now known as the North Campus Research Complex.

Officials say the new institute will enhance the health of local, national and global populations through innovative health research across different disciplines.

“The research done at our new institute will inform and influence public policy and enhance public and private efforts to improve the quality, safety, equity and affordability of health care services,” said James Woolliscroft, dean of the U-M Medical School, in a statement.

The Institute for Healthcare Policy would bring about 500 researchers together in one facility, with many more engaging virtually, officials said, making it one of the nation’s largest centers of health care policy and services researchers.

The institute will be an academic unit reporting to the U-M Medical School and the search for a director will begin soon.

The instituted was approved after a unanimous vote by U-M's Board of Regents on Thursday.

Provost Phil Hanlon said the institute would help with the interdisciplinary challenges of health care delivery by bringing researchers from many disciplines under one roof.

“The work at the institute will draw on a wide range of faculty expertise in such fields as law, economics, public policy, sociology and management,” Hanlon said in a statement. “We anticipate innovative ideas for addressing these critical concerns.”

The institute is the latest initiative brought to the former Pfizer site, which includes 174 acres and 30 buildings. U-M has about 600 employees working at the site.

Bringing the institute to the North Campus Research Complex has been a part of the discussions since the university bought the site in 2009.

The renovations to the five-story building will "promote collaboration among groups and consolidation of redundant resources to create a more efficient and cost-effective research environment," according to university documents.

Work is expected to be completed in Spring 2012 and will include taking down walls to create larger workspaces and bring the building up to safety and code standards.

Three conference rooms and a fitness center below ground also will be renovated for the institute.

There will be no impact on parking for the project. Funding will be provided from medical school resources.

Thomas Schwenk, chair of the Department of Family Medicine, was the head of a committee to make recommendations on the mission, governance and organization of the institute. He said there would be many advantages for members of the institute to collaborate and work with each other.

“We hope and intend that these collaborations will spark the development of new approaches to health care,” Schwenk said, adding the institute may help U-M attract more grant money for research and new faculty members.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, May 21, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

Sure jobs are great and all, but this sounds like a mostly useless institute. Instead of actually developing drugs and progressing science, we have "researchers" sitting around talking about policy. Universal, single payer healthcare is the cost effective nobrainer that generally all other industrial nations have adopted. Coming from a university and hospital system awash in drug money, it's hard not to assume that this institute will be more or less a mouthpiece for the pharmaceutical and for-profit health insurance conglomerates.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 5 p.m.

Thanks for shaing this story. I used to visit this Warner-Lambert/Pfizer Company location several times in the past when they conducted research on pharmaceutical agents. Would it be possible to share the concepts/ideas that are involved in this project? Building renovations, and employment opportunities could be of some interest and they are not my main concern. I would like to specifically know and understand as to how U of M would define the term 'HEALTH'. How would that definition help to promote the well-being of people, locally, nationally, and globally? Would spending money by itself provide the answers to human health problems?


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

It is unclear to me whether these are going to be brand new jobs or just repurposing existing employees out to the Pfizer complex?

Drew Montag

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 11:52 a.m.

Just a minor correction: Building 16 is in the northwest corner of the NCRC campus, not the northeast corner.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 11:24 a.m.

This is a welcome update on the evolution of UM's use of the old Pfizer site. Is there any information regarding numbers of new jobs associated with the new program, or overall facility? There is significant potential in the fruits of this policy/delivery research area. Demographics, funding, delivery, and breadth of service are some hot topics in healthcare evolution. These issues affect us all.