UM’s Taubman Institute names new director

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

A diabetes and obesity researcher has been chosen as director of the University of Michigan’s A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.

Charles Burant replaces Eva Feldman, who had led the institute since it was founded in 2007 with a gift from the late philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman, who died in 2015. Burant began his new role July 1.

Burant is the Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Professor of Metabolism endowed chair, and a professor of internal medicine in the department of metabolism, endocrinology and diabetes.

He also is a professor of molecular and integrative physiology in the UM Medical School and the UM schools of Public Health and Kinesiology.

“Dr. Burant will be instrumental in implementing the strategies and priorities of the Taubman Institute,” Marschall Runge, dean of the UM Medical School and the university’s executive vice president for medical affairs, said in a statement.

“His broad expertise, experience in creating collaborative research teams, and commitment to discovery and innovation will help propel the Taubman Institute to new heights in research discovery to advance the understanding of health and disease, leading to new medical treatments,” Runge said.

Burant said in an interview Thursday with The Detroit News that he was excited about his new appointment.

“I want to enable Michigan researchers to do the best science research that I hope will lead to improving health care for people,” he said. “And if I can do that, I think we can make a big impact.”

Burant is director of the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center, which provides infrastructure and expertise for researchers across the country to do research in metabolism, obesity and diabetes.

He said he has spent the last six years researching how people respond differently to weight loss. Burant said he wants to find out why some people struggle to maintain weight loss while others keep it off.

Burant declined to specify his plans for the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.

“The opportunity to have the support of the medical school is really going to make this a whole lot easier,” he said.

Feldman, 65, announced last month she would step down as director of the institute. During her tenure, the institute developed new drugs, surgeries and therapies for diseases such as adult and childhood cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and, Feldman’s research interest, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.