$16 Million Pledged to MSU Med School's Expansion to Grand Rapids

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The Van Andel Institute, a medical research center in the heart of the city's growing medical corridor, has pledged $16 million to support research at a planned expansion of the Michigan State University medical school.

Representatives of the university and the institute jointly announced the eight-year commitment on Wednesday.

The money is to be used to invest in basic science and clinical research that will support both institutions, meaning the two facilities could jointly hire staff and share space.

"We hope to have investigators working side-by-side according to their areas of research, rather than who employs them," Dr. Marsha Rappley, dean of Michigan State's College of Human Medicine, told The Grand Rapids Press.

Steve Heacock, the institute's chief administrative officer, said teaming up with a school that performs medical research is a "natural fit."

"To have them come and join us and be part of our community makes absolute sense," he said.

"We're in the works, we're past planning, we're now implementing" she said.

Fifty second-year medical students are expected to enroll in Grand Rapids by fall 2008. They would join 50 to 70 upper-level medical students already assigned to programs in the area.

The university expects 100 first-year students to enroll in Grand Rapids by the time a new, $70 million building opens in 2010. At that point, Michigan State's medical school will be based in Grand Rapids while it continues to offer a four-year program in East Lansing.

Michigan State officials are considering four possible sites for the medical school. Three are downtown near the institute and Spectrum Health Butterworth Campus, a hospital.

The hospital's parent company earlier agreed to contribute up to $55 million toward the cost of the medical school building. It also pledged around $30 million over the next decade to support medical research.