State leaders laud Taubman Institute accomplishments


Leaders of state and local government visited the Taubman Institute on March 18 to tour Taubman Scholar labs and discuss the potential medical research offers for both improving the health of residents and establishing new jobs and businesses in Michigan.

Meeting with Taubman Institute Founder and Chair A. Alfred Taubman and Director Dr. Eva Feldman were state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and George Miller, director of the Oakland County Department of Health and Human Services. They were joined by Cynthia Wilbanks, U-M’s vice president for government relations, and Linden Nelson, a Michigan entrepreneur.

The promise of stem cells for the treatment of disease was among the topics discussed. Dr. Feldman gave an update on her landmark trial of a new stem cell therapy for ALS, and Dr. Gary Smith, director of the MStem Cell Laboratories (U-M’s newly renamed stem cell derivation lab), told the visitors about the 16 new stem cell lines that MStem has developed – including one that carries the gene for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart defect that often strikes down young athletes.

The cells from that line can be grown into heart cells that actually beat on their own in the petri dish, Dr. Smith said, and thus allow physicians to study the progression of the disease in ways that aren’t possible on human subjects.

“I have always been a staunch believer in the promise of stem cells to alleviate disease, and the scientists we support through the Taubman Institute continue to amaze me, their own colleagues and the entire scientific community with the remarkable results of their visionary research,” said Mr. Taubman.

Following an update by Max Wicha’s, a Taubman Scholar and director of U-M’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, on his pioneering clinical trials targeting cancer stem cells, the group traveled to U-M’s North Campus Research Complex for a tour of the 2.1 million square-foot facility, including Dr. Wicha’s new state-of-the-art cancer research lab.

“It’s amazing to see the world class research happening right in our own backyard,” said Sen. Richardville. “The University of Michigan's Taubman Institute is leading the world in medical research for diseases like cancer and ALS. They are truly ‘the Leaders and the Best.’"


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