News & Events

Institute welcomes Dr. Robin Ali as Nov. 5 visiting professor

Robin Ali, Ph.D., a pioneer in the use of gene therapy and stem cells to restore damaged retinas, will speak in Ann Arbor on Nov. 5 as part of the Taubman Institute's Visiting Professor program.

Dr. Ali, professor of human molecular genetics and head of the Department of Genetics at University College London, is a leader in the study of experimental techniques to address conditions like macular degeneration and inherited retinal degeneration. He recently has initiated a human clinical trial, among the first of its kind, of a gene therapy for a severe childhood-onset form of retinal disease.

This lecture, "Gene and cell therapy for retinal degeneration: a vision for the future," is presented jointly by the Taubman Institute and the Departments of Neurology and Ophthalmology.

No registration is required to attend the talk, which will take place from 9:30-10:30 a.m. in the Danto Auditorium of the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.  One CME credit is available for physicians. 

 

 

Dr. Eva Feldman elected to prestigious Institute of Medicine

Taubman Institute Director Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D. is among six University of Michigan faculty members to be elected this year to the he Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

The new IOM members were elected in recognition of their major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

Dr. Feldmanis an internationally renowned expert in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  She has devoted her career to finding new therapies and treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, and is at the forefront of applying stem cell research to human disease.

“This is truly an incredible honor,” Dr. Feldman said. “But more than anything it validates the hard work and dedication of our research and clinic teams at the University of Michigan. They are second to none, and I am fortunate to work with each end every one of them in our quest to understand and treat these confounding neurological disorders.”

As a clinician-scientist, Dr. Feldman treats patients and also directs the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery (www.pnrdfeldman.org), a laboratory staffed by some 30 scientists who are deciphering the mysteries of conditions ranging from diabetic nerve damage to Alzheimer's disease. She is director of research for the U-M ALS clinic and is the principal investigator of the first-ever FDA-approved human clinical trial of a stem cell therapy for ALS. The second phase of the trial is complete and Dr. Feldman anticipates moving to a broader test of the therapy in 2015. She has more than 23 years of continuous NIH funding and is currently the principal or co-investigator of five major National Institutes of Health research grants and three private foundation grants as well as the author of more than 300 original peer-reviewed articles, 59 book chapters and three books.

Dr. Feldman is one of six University of Michigan experts elected to the IOM this year, bringing to 59 the total of U-M faculty members who have been elected to the IOM. Also elected this year:

  • Gonçalo R. Abecasis, the Felix E. Moore Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the School of Public Health.
  • Carol R. Bradford, M.D., chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Medical School.
  • Charles J. Krause, M.D., Collegiate Professor of Otolaryngology.
  • Mark Fendrick, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the Medical School and a professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health.
  • Susan A. Murphy, the H.E. Robbins Distinguished University Professor of Statistics, professor of psychiatry and research professor at the Institute for Social Research.
  • Kathleen M. Potempa, dean and professor at the School of Nursing.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public.  Established in 1970, the IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was chartered under President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Nearly 150 years later, the National Academy of Sciences has expanded into what is collectively known as the National Academies, which comprises the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Research Council, and the IOM.

New members are elected by current active members through a selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.  A diversity of talent among IOM's membership is assured by the Institute's charter, which stipulates that at least one-quarter of the membership is selected from outside the health professions, for example, from such fields as the law, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities.  The newly elected members raise IOM's total active membership to 1,798 and the number of foreign associates to 128.  With an additional 86 members holding emeritus status, IOM's total membership is 2,012.

Taubman Institute to host renowned RNA researcher for Oct. 1 lecture

One of the world's foremost molecular biologists will speak Oct. 1 in Ann Arbor as part of the A.Alfred Taubman Institute's Visiting Professor Lecture Series.

Joan A. Steitz, Ph.D., of Yale University will deliver her talk "Noncoding RNAs: with a Viral Twist" at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 4 p.m. in the Danto Auditorium of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center. 

Dr. Steitz is best known for her pioneering work in RNA. She and her student Michael Lerner discovered and defined the function of small ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) in pre-messenger RNA — the earliest product of DNA transcription — and was the first to learn that these cellular complexes (snRNPs) play a key role in processing messenger RNA by excising noncoding regions and splicing together the resulting segments.

Her breakthroughs into the previously mysterious splicing process have clarified the science behind the formation of proteins and other biological processes, including the intricate changes that occur as the immune system and brain develop.

Dr. Steitz earned her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1967. After completing postdoctoral work in Cambridge, England, she joined the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale as an assistant professor and later became an associate and full professor, as well as chair of the department. Her current appointment at Yale is Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.  She also is a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator.

All are welcome to attend the one-hour lecture; no registration is required. 

The University of Michigan Medical School designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit (tm).

Taubman Scholar Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan among world's most-cited researchers

A newly-published roster of the most-cited researchers in the world includes Taubman Scholar Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D. among the 27 University of Michigan researchers who made the list. 

Having one's publications cited frequently by other investigators and researchers is a sign that one's work is "ground-breaking and influential," according to Thomson Reuters, the information company that published the study, "The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds."  Being included on the list signifies that the researchers are considered in the top 1 percent of people in their respective fields, which span all disciplines from

Dr. Chinnaiyan, a professor of urology at the University of Michigan Medical School, is a noted expert in the genetics of prostate cancer.  He also serves as the S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology and director of the U-M Center for Translational Pathology.  He was appointed a Taubman Scholar in 2011. 

New U-M president visits Taubman Institute

The Feldman Lab at the Taubman Institute hosted a fellow clinician-scientist on Aug. 22 when the University of Michigan’s new president paid a visit to the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building.

Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician and renowned biomedical researcher whose focus is n the developmental biology of the immune system. He became the University of Michigan’s 14th President on July 1, succeeding Mary Sue Coleman, Ph.D., who retired after 12 years of leading the university.

Dr. Schlissel, accompanied by U-M Medical School Dean James Wolliscroft, met with Taubman Institute Director Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D. for an   introduction to the work her lab is doing in regenerative medicine, including stem cell therapies for ALS, and in the fields of diabetes and neuropathy. During the tour he exchanged questions and answers with a number of research fellows and scientists.

Prior to joining the University of Michigan, Dr. Schlissel was provost at Brown University. Before moving to Brown in 2011, Dr. Schlissel was University of California at Berkeley’s Dean of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters & Science and held the C.H. Li Chair in Biochemistry.

He earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and earned both his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Dr. Schlissel will be formally inaugurated on Sept. 5; related events will include a symposium on the topic “Sustaining the Biomedical Research Enterprise."  Click here for the schedule of public events

Taubman Institute 7th annual symposium set for Oct. 10

The A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute will award the 2014 $100,000 Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science at its 7th annual symposium at 10 a.m. on Oct. 10.

Dr. Carl June, a physician-scientist who developed a personalized immunotherapy for leukemia using patients’ own T cells, will receive the honor and deliver the symposium's keynote address.

The treatment he designed is credited as the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to turn the body’s own immune cells into weapons aimed at cancerous tumors.

The research is considered a landmark breakthrough in treating blood cancers that have stopped responding to conventional therapies, or for patients who are not candidates for bone marrow transplants, which carry a high mortality risk.

The symposium also will feature presentations by Taubman Scholars including:

John Carethers, M.D., John G. Searle Professor and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine

       

 

Kathleen Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Internal Medicine

          

                       

Pavan Reddy. M.D., Moshe Talpaz Professor of Translational Oncology

        

 

The lectures will be preceded by a scientific poster session and coffee hour.  All events will take place in the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building in Ann Arbor. 

No registration is required.  

Taubman Institute welcomes new gift officer

The Taubman Institute has a new ally in its quest to support the lifesaving work of U-M’s most promising clinician-scientists.

Maria Muller has been assigned by the university’s office of medical development to serve as the Taubman Institute’s lead development officer.  She’ll be working with benefactors and prospective supporters to create giving opportunities that fulfill the aims of donors while underwriting important institute efforts such as the Emerging Scholars Program. 

Muller brings a robust background in higher education fundraising.  A native of Ohio, she began her development career at Harvard University, shepherding major gifts for Harvard’s business and public health schools, the Kennedy School of Government and the fundraising activities of the university president’s office among others. 

Returning to her Midwestern roots, Muller served as a major gifts officer for the U-M College of Engineering, working with alumni and individual supporters, facilitating corporate support of scholarships, internships and other initiatives.  But the special rewards and challenges of engaging support for medical research really appeal to her, she says.

“People want to be actively engaged, and at the Taubman Institute we have very special opportunities for that,” Muller said.  “There is a way to help our donors be part of the dynamic conversation about healthcare, and to experience the transformative power of individual philanthropy -- right here where we are aggressively working to save people.  For a development officer, that’s rarefied air.”

“We are delighted, and very fortunate, to have Maria as our colleague and champion,” said Taubman Institute Director Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D.  “The scholars and I, along with Mr. Taubman, are very impressed by her acumen, energy and enthusiasm.  I know our generous supporters will greatly enjoy working with her.”

You can reach Maria Muller at (734) 763-6249 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Diabetic neuropathy will be the focus of August 6 Visiting Professor Lecture

Two eminent neurologists will visit Ann Arbor on August 6 to present their latest research findings at a Visiting Professor Lecture hosted by the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan.

Amanda Peltier, M.D., a clinician-scientists and assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, is an authority in the field of diabetic neuropathy.  Her research focuses on developing means to diagnose neuropathy at earlier stages where it may be treatable. 

Dr. Peltier completed her residency in neurology in 2002, and her M.S. in clinical research design in 2005.She has been awarded the Samuel J. Roessler Memorial Medical Scholarship, and has been recognized by the Landacre Society, College of Medicine Research Honorary Society. She has also received the IFCN Young Investigator Fellowship Award.

Dr. Peltier has been awarded the Samuel J. Roessler Memorial Medical Scholarship, and has been recognized by the Landacre Society, College of Medicine Research Honorary Society. She has also received the IFCN Young Investigator Fellowship Award.

Troels Staehelin Jensen, M.D., DMSc, of the Aarhus University in Denmark, is a renowned expert in the neurophysiology of pain.  As a clinician-scientist, he has extensively studied the neuropathology of pain and is the author of more than 300 scientific papers.  He is chair of the Aarhus University Hospital Department of Neurology, a founder of the Danish Pain Research Center, has held numerous academic posts and is a past president of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Dr. Peltier will speak about "Diabetic neuropathy: A tale of two diseases" at 9:30 a.m. on August 6.  Dr. Jensen will present his lecture, "Mechanisms and evidence based treatment of neuropathic pain" at 10:30 a.m.

Both talks will take place in the Danto Auditorium of the U-M Cardiovascular Center.  No registration is required; all are welcome to attend.

Click here for directions and parking information for the Danto Auditorium.

Leukemia researcher Carl June, M.D. awarded 2014 Taubman Prize

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A physician-scientist who developed a personalized immunotherapy for leukemia using patients’ own T cells is the recipient of the 2014 Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Science, awarded by the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Carl June, M.D. of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will receive the $100,000 prize in recognition of the treatment he designed that is credited as the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to turn the body’s own immune cells into weapons aimed at cancerous tumors.

The research is considered a landmark breakthrough in treating blood cancers that have stopped responding to conventional therapies, or for patients who are not candidates for bone marrow transplants, which carry a high mortality risk.

 “Dr. June’s visionary approach has transformed the scientific approach to these cancers and brought hope to patients who had little or none,” said Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Taubman Institute. “We are honored to recognize his extraordinary contributions by awarding him the Taubman Prize.”

June was selected by a national panel of eminent medical science experts from among dozens of nominees for the Taubman Prize. His groundbreaking work has demonstrated that T cells, modified in the lab to carry an antibody-like protein called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), can be infused back into a patient’s bloodstream, where the new “hunter” cells seek and attack the cancer cells. These special T cells also include a signaling domain that help them replicate, which enlarges the “army” of cells available to fight the cancer.

The results of the first three patients to be part of a clinical trial of this immunotherapy were published in 2011. Updated results on the first 59 trial patients presented in December 2013 found that about half of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia responded to the therapy, and nearly 90 percent of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – including both children and adults – went into remission after receiving the therapy.

June, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine, will present the keynote address at the Taubman Institute’s annual symposium on Oct. 10, 2014, at the Kahn Auditorium on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. The symposium is open to the general public.

Mr. A. Alfred Taubman, founder and chair of the Taubman Institute, will present the prize.

“Translating medical research into actual treatments and cures is the work that the Taubman Institute was created to promote and reward,” said Taubman. “There is no finer example today than what Dr. June has done for leukemia patients, and we are delighted to recognize his amazing accomplishments.”

The Taubman Prize was established in 2012 to recognize outstanding translational medical research beyond the University of Michigan. It includes a $100,000 award and is presented each year to the non-U-M clinician-scientist who has done the most to transform laboratory discoveries into clinical applications for patients suffering from disease.

Previous recipients are:

2013: Brian Druker, M.D. of the Oregon Health & Science University and Charles Sawyers, M.D. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, for their discoveries related to chronic myeloid leukemia.

2012: Hal Dietz, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University for his discoveries related to connective tissue disease.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About Carl June, M.D.: Carl H. June is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine, and director of Translational Research in the Abramson Cancer Center. His laboratory studies various mechanisms of lymphocyte activation relating to immune tolerance and adoptive immunotherapy.

June is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Baylor College of Medicine. He completed graduate training in immunology and malaria at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, and post-doctoral training in transplantation biology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

June has received numerous awards and grants for his innovative work, including a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Freedom to Discover Research Grant; the William B. Coley Award from the Cancer Research Institute; the Ernest Beutler Prize from the American Society of Hematology; a Clinical Research Forum Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Award; and The Joan Miller and Linda Bernstein Gene Therapy Ovarian Cancer Award from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy; and the Philadelphia Award.

 

About the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute: In 2008 Michigan businessman, philanthropist and noted patron of the arts A. Alfred Taubman provided the initial funds to establish the institute bearing his name at the University of Michigan Medical School. Its mission is to provide the university’s finest medical scientists the freedom, resources and collaborative environment they need to push the boundaries of medical discovery, to produce breakthroughs in cures to speed the development of effective treatment for some of the most devastating illnesses. Currently, 30 Taubman Scholars are advancing their research with the assistance of grants from the institute.

 

“Translating 

Evening of Art + Science a rousing success!

On a glorious spring evening in Detroit, the worlds of medical research and artistic endeavor met at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) to showcase the results of a unique collaboration between Taubman Institute scientists and some of today's most bold and talented artists.

Dozens of art enthusiasts and supporters of medical science turned out to meet, mingle, dine and to admire the amazing creations which were auctioned to benefit the medical research supported by the institute.

Camaraderie, cuisine, creativity and cocktails reigned throughout this delightful event. 
And the proceeds will allow us to expand the ranks of our innovative Taubman Emerging Scholars Program, which ensures the next generation of extraordinary young clinician-scientists won’t be lost to research for lack of funding.

Our deepest thanks to everyone who participated, contributed, created and partied to help make the Evening of Art + Science a wonderfully successful project.

Together, we are making a difference.

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