Purdue eyes life sciences with $250M investment

Over the next 5 years, the university will invest funds to bolster Indiana’s life sciences sector

life-sciencesPurdue University is investing more than $250 million in the life sciences over the next five years to advance research that both improves lives and supports Indiana’s critical life sciences business sector.

The investment will enable high-impact, leading faculty hires as well as dozens of new positions across six colleges, advanced instrumentation purchases and shared research facilities that enhance the life sciences.

The funding includes Purdue’s recently announced Pillars of Excellence in the Life Sciences Initiative, with a $60 million investment as part of Purdue’s $2 billion “Ever True” capital campaign. The initiative established the Integrative Neuroscience Center and Institute for Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease, which complement the Purdue Moves’ Drug Discovery and Plant Sciences initiatives.

“Just as in the 2013 choice of two focused research projects, the selection of the two new ‘pillars’ was the result of a careful and deliberative process led by faculty at each step,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “A first-stage review concluded that the life sciences was the sector where Purdue has the greatest unexploited research potential. A second-level inquiry chose the two areas for major investments.

“We are already seeing important results. Forty Purdue-developed drugs are in the pipeline, the university achieved a record $401 million in sponsored research funding this past year, and many strategic partnerships with national labs and private-sector companies have been forged.”

David L. Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads, Indiana’s initiative for life sciences collaboration and growth, said, “Indiana has a major stake in the 21st century life sciences sector, which delivers a $59 billion impact and makes an outsized contribution to our economy. Purdue University’s research excellence and economic engagement have always forged a critical component of that success, and with this exciting new commitment from Purdue, we are far better placed to win in the global competition for life sciences talent, innovation and investment.”

The investment will support the immediate hiring of a director for Purdue’s new Center for Integrative Neuroscience, as well as a leading faculty hire in the area of drug discovery. The additional faculty in the Pillars program and the Center for Drug Discovery will range from assistant professors to distinguished professors across six colleges, and a full list is available here.

The new faculty hires will support Purdue’s major effort to coalesce faculty from different disciplines and colleges who are working in Purdue’s focus areas of neuroscience, immunological sciences, drug discovery and plant sciences.

“If we’re going to make further strides against disease in the 21st century – and I’m convinced that we can – then progress will depend on deep collaboration between academic research centers and industry,” said John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman, president and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, the Indianapolis-based global pharmaceuticals firm. “Purdue University’s major investments point the way. They will make Purdue an even more important player in drug discovery and applied life sciences research – attracting industry partners, stimulating innovation-based growth in Indiana, and above all turning scientific leads into potential new treatments. This is truly great news.”

The Pillars of Excellence in the Life Sciences Initiative, which is implemented as a partnership of the pillar leadership teams and the offices of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships and Provost, will be housed in Purdue’s high-profile, interdisciplinary Discovery Park.

A multi-million dollar investment in high-throughput screening instrumentation and the establishment of a chemical genomics facility for the Purdue Center for Drug Discovery are planned, as are new core facilities in the neurosciences and upgrades to existing core facilities in Discovery Park. These facilities will support the wealth of talent and scientific expertise in the life sciences at Purdue.

This major investment will amplify Purdue’s existing strengths in order to enable life sciences research at the highest level and with the greatest impact on human lives.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Laura Ascione

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