Dear Friend of Indiana University,

Last month, the nascent Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI) reached an important milestone in its effort to create a first-of-its-kind life sciences institute in the United States with the announcement that it had raised $25 million from non-government sources to go along with a similar amount appropriated by the state legislature earlier this year. The funds will be used to hire a leader, to begin recruiting top scientific talent to the state and to start an ambitious fund-raising effort designed to create an endowment in excess of $300 million.

IBRI is squarely focused on human health issues and solutions to them. Once established, the institute will support as many as 100 scientists dedicated to finding breakthroughs for a range of metabolic diseases, and in the process, helping to boost Indiana’s already thriving life sciences economy, which delivers more than $40 billion in economic impact in the state each year.

As the state’s premiere health and life sciences research university, Indiana University is deeply involved in the IBRI. The university, through the IU School of Medicine, has made a financial commitment to the initiative. Perhaps more importantly, we are bringing considerable scientific and administrative expertise to the IBRI, and our commitment will grow over time as the initiative develops.

For example, IU’s Vice President for Engagement Bill Stephan sits on the IBRI board, while Vice President for Research Jorge Jose will be involved in recruiting the best possible scientific talent to IBRI, as well as helping to lead our work to develop research collaborations between IU and IBRI. Other IU leaders, including myself, will be involved in various ways as the university is committed to playing a leadership role in the success of IBRI.

IU’s commitment to this latest bioscience initiative is consistent with the university’s longstanding leadership role in the medical and biological sciences in Indiana. As you know, IU is home to one of the largest medical schools in the nation, which produces nearly half of the state’s physicians and which in the last five years alone has received nearly $1.3 billion in research awards.

Researchers across IU—such as biologist Richard DiMarchi, whose groundbreaking work on glucagon-base peptides offers real promise for the treatment of diabetes and obesity, and David Wilkes at the IU School of Medicine, who has devoted his career to improving lung transplant survival rates—are dedicated to improving lives through medical science, and at the same time strengthening the university.

For example, Both DiMarchi and Wilkes have turned their work into start-up biomedical companies with the help of the IU Research and Technology Corp. This type of technology commercialization also has a direct financial benefit to the university through licensing fees, which have generated more than $20 million for the university in the past three years.

Additionally, IU is the academic partner of Indiana University Health, the state’s largest health care provider and one of the most prestigious hospital systems in the country, as designated by the influential U.S. News and World Report rankings. In this role, IU-trained physicians staff many IU Health facilities across the state and the school’s faculty serves as both research and clinical practitioners at IU Health hospitals.

Our partnership with IU Health continues to strengthen, with the most visible example being the construction of IU’s new neuroscience research building in Indianapolis. The facility, which is expected to be completed in mid-2014, will connect the School of Medicine—literally and figuratively—to IU Health’s leading-edge neuroscience medical center, which opened last year. Once our research facility opens, the complex will represent one of the largest concentrations of neuroscience researchers and practitioners in the United States.

IU School of Medicine Dean Jay Hess

As exciting as these developments are for IU, I am equally optimistic about the overall direction of the IU School of Medicine under Jay Hess, who in September took over as the school’s new dean and vice president for university clinical affairs. In this latter position, he is responsible for coordinating the clinical activities of IU’s clinical schools—the IU schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, optometry, social work, public health and health and rehabilitation science.

Jay is an extremely accomplished researcher, scholar and administrator, who before moving to Indiana served for eight years as the Carl V. Weller Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology and Professor of Pathology and Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. Prior to that, he served as Director of Hematopathology at the University of Pennsylvania and as Assistant Professor of Pathology at Washington University School of Medicine.

The author of more than 100 scientific papers and book chapters, Jay is considered one of the nation’s leaders in the epigenetics of leukemia. He also has extensive experience as a medical administrator and was instrumental in the creation and launch of a new medical campus at the University of Michigan.

Jay has hit the ground running and already has articulated a number of priorities for the school’s nine campuses around the state. The school is immersed in a comprehensive effort to reform the curriculum to place a greater emphasis on team-based practice and to ensure greater uniformity in the way medical education is delivered across all our campuses.

At the same time, Jay and his leadership team also are working hard to strengthen the school’s research enterprise by making better use of scarce resources, through improved collaborations with university and outside partners and by focusing the school’s research energy around areas of strength such as cancer, neuroscience and cardiovascular disease.

IU’s large and flourishing medical, clinical and life sciences programs are one of the most important ways in which the university contributes to the health and economic well being of the residents of the state every day. I am proud of IU’s leadership in these areas, and of the many talented scientists, researchers, physicians, clinicians and administrators who make this possible.

Likewise, the continued support of our alumni and friends around the world are an invaluable component to the Indiana University mission. As always, my sincerest thanks for your commitment to IU, and Laurie and I send you our very best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season.

Yours sincerely,

Michael A. McRobbie