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Larry MacIntyre
IU University Communications

Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008

IU, Purdue establish alliance Web site; next step input from state Legislature, businesses

Sept. 15, 2008

WEST LAFAYETTE and BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana and Purdue universities have launched a Web site to promote an unprecedented broad-based research alliance to help the state grow its bio- and life-sciences industries, improve health and increase the number of physicians trained in Indiana.

Indiana Innovation Alliance

The joint effort is called the Indiana Innovation Alliance, and the two universities are requesting that the Indiana General Assembly appropriate $35 million in each year of the 2009-2011 state biennial budget.

Purdue and IU announced the alliance in June. The two universities are soliciting input from key stakeholders as they work to bring together businesses, government entities and universities to share research facilities and other resources to expand the state's capacity to support new and existing companies in the bioscience and health-related fields.

A committee, made up of representatives from IU and Purdue, health and bioscience leaders in private industry and state government, would manage the alliance. The group would evaluate progress, measure performance and invest resources focusing on several goals. Those include:

  • More and better jobs in the bio-economic sector.
  • New health and life sciences solutions, intellectual property and companies.
  • Increase funding for research and development, with an emphasis on new funds coming into Indiana.
  • Attract and retain academic and commercial researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs.
  • Increase the number of health-care professionals statewide.
  • Work on disease prevention, thus reducing health-care costs for companies and organizations.

Alliance officials seek to develop core research capabilities to support the needs of state universities and private industry. The plan is to consolidate existing core instrumentation and infrastructure, then make investments in research enterprises across the state to offer a package of one-stop shopping for basic, advanced diagnostic and analytical services.

The shared resources and increased matching funding would create an attractive environment for startup companies, new business ventures and new investments, said William B. Stephan, IU's vice president for engagement.

The core research capabilities will initially include:

  • Microscopic structures to whole-body advanced imaging to support research projects, including structural biology and neuroimaging investigations and advanced clinical research studies
  • Nanotechnology, device fabrication and advanced analytics; and informatics to design, prototype and evaluate novel medical diagnostics, therapeutics, devices and instruments
  • Informatics to manage data screening and analyze data across scientific disciplines, such as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. This will offer applications from disease analysis and drug interventions to biofuels development.

These core research capabilities would allow for a coordinated pipeline of service, research and development to occur, placing Indiana at an advantage in the competition for federal research dollars.

IU and Purdue also will provide matching funds in three areas that align with the state's university and commercial research strengths. Those include disease treatment and health promotion, bioenergy and biomaterials and nutrition and food-related diseases.

As part of the request, the two universities also are proposing a $5 million annual investment for medical education at the statewide network of 10 IU centers and $5 million annually for Purdue to expand technical and educational programs in biotechnology, bioengineering and pharmacy.

The funding would support the IU School of Medicine's plan to increase medical student enrollment by 30 percent over a six-year period. Class sizes would increase at each of the centers around the state, as well as add third- and fourth-year programs at selected sites, Stephan said.

"The centers would provide cost-effective education and help address the state's primary care needs while simultaneously augmenting regional economic development efforts," Stephan said. "For example, the center at Terre Haute will focus on rural health initiatives with local health-care organizations. The alliance will make Indiana a hotspot for life sciences and biosciences research."

The alliance also proposes an expansion of Purdue's Healthcare Technical Assistance Program, said Victor Lechtenberg, Purdue's vice provost for engagement.

"Our alliance would expand the ties between the state's largest research universities and the private sector and government to increase Indiana's share of national investments in bioscience research and development," he said. "The partnership would attract and help retain smart, industrious people whose scientific discoveries and innovations will lead to more and better jobs and discoveries that can improve the state's economic health. Through these partnerships, we would apply scientific and engineering innovations to Indiana's health-care system."

The alliance Web site is: