December 11, 2017

Medical research and innovation going strong at U-M, with record year for Michigan Medicine

Research funds awarded and spent, and technology transfer, all rise


Research aimed at understanding, protecting, healing and enhancing the human body and brain had another record year at the University of Michigan.

New data show that Michigan Medicine hit new heights for biomedical research funding, and for efforts to bring new medical discoveries to patients, in the university’s most recent fiscal year. Michigan Medicine is the university’s academic medical center, and includes the Medical School, which is the main hub of U-M biomedical research.

In all, Michigan Medicine accounts for more than 40 percent of all U-M research across it 19 schools and colleges, for both dollars spent and new inventions, according to a new report. U-M ranks second in the country for total research spending by universities, according to the federal National Science Foundation.

“From basic science that probes the underpinnings of biomedicine, to the development and testing of new medical devices and medicines, to analysis of massive amounts of data that can improve healthcare and disease prevention, our research teams explore nearly every aspect of human health,” says Bishr Omary, M.D., Ph.D., who this year became Michigan Medicine’s first chief scientific officer. “The passion that our faculty, trainees and staff have for research is fueled by the desire to help patients here, and around the world.”

In addition to the literally thousands of faculty, staff and students who conduct the research, tens of thousands of Michigan Medicine patients and community members make discovery possible by volunteering for studies. This selfless volunteerism is an essential component for helping us advance human health. 

Key statistics on Michigan Medicine research in FY 2017:  

  • Total research spending hit a new high of $590 million, up 4 percent from the previous year. This includes all dollars from internal and external sources, including a portion of revenues from Michigan Medicine’s clinical operations, and generous donations from individuals.
  • $591.1 million new research dollars were awarded to Michigan Medicine teams, in the form of more than 3,705 grants and contracts from federal and state agencies, industry, foundations and others, usually on a competitive basis where only the best ideas gain funding. This includes the $58 million federal grant that funds the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, which supports programs to help researchers across U-M and promotes community outreach.
  • More than 16 percent of Medical School research funding came from industry, a percentage that has risen steadily as the school increases its efforts to engage with the business community, and to train and fund researchers whose discoveries hold commercial potential, all through the Fast Forward Medical Innovation initiative. The U-M Business Engagement Center ranks the Medical School as the top U-M unit for industry funding. 
  • Many medical inventions and innovations that arose out of Michigan Medicine research, and were licensed to industry in the past, are now on the market or being developed further. In fiscal 2017, the university collected $9.2 million in royalties and equity sales from them - more than 60 percent of U-M’s total income of this kind.
  • Michigan Medicine research yielded 174 new inventions in 2017, nearly 40 percent of U-M’s total reported to the Office of Technology Transfer.
  • Medical innovations from Michigan Medicine researchers accounted for 51 patent applications and 44 issued patents in 2017, a sizable portion of the U-M total.
  • U-M signed 84 new license or option agreements with industry based on Michigan Medicine discoveries in 2017. That’s nearly half of U-M’s total.
  • 5 new companies launched out of Michigan Medicine research in 2017 -- out of 12 university-wide.
  • Michigan Medicine researchers published thousands of papers to share their discoveries with the world, including a large number in top journals. This helped propel U-M to a #17 ranking in the life sciences worldwide for such publications, as measured by the Nature Publishing Group.
  • In 2017, Michigan Medicine made major improvements in its infrastructure for clinical research, to support research teams and study participants even better. More than 30,800 community members have joined the U-M Health Research registry. This includes both people with medical conditions and healthy volunteers to act as essential comparisons.