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New $93M Wayne State center to study health disparities

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Wayne State University on Wednesday is unveiling a center aimed at eliminating health disparities that affect Detroit residents, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

The $93 million facility — the Integrative Biosciences Center, or IBo — is the university’s largest construction project. It will be home to faculty experts in environmental science, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and more. Additionally, Wayne State will recruit nearly three dozen new faculty for research and development.

The first phase of occupants in the building will include research teams studying metabolic diseases, bio and systems engineering, behavioral health and cardiovascular health disparities. Also at the clinic will be a Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors, supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said the facility will mean many things for the community and university.

“The discoveries made there will have a very positive impact on Detroit and other similar communities,” Wilson said. “As with all research, it will have a huge economic impact.”

In addition, Wilson said, Wayne State has been lagging in federal research funding for the past decade. Ten years ago, research awards to WSU totaled $141.6 million. Though overall funding has increased 30 percent over the past two years, today research funding at Wayne State is at $150.3 million, an increase of just 6 percent.

“This will really catapult us to being able to make up a lot of lost ground in our research rankings,” Wilson said.

The open design of the 200,000-square-foot building will encourage collaboration among researchers.

“That is a cultural change we are trying to make at the university,” Wilson said. “This will help facilitate that.”

A grand opening, which will include Wilson and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the building, 6135 Woodward, Detroit.