Steven Kunkel

News & Research

Shaping the Future of Research at U-M

Winter 2019
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It is my pleasure to introduce myself and share our current strategies from the Michigan Medicine Office of Research. In October 2018, I was appointed by the Board of Regents to the role of interim chief scientific officer for Michigan Medicine and executive vice dean for research at the Medical School, after having served in a number of research-related positions at the Medical School and university.

For the last nine years, I have served as the senior associate dean of research for the Medical School. My personal research interests impact the field of immunology and inflammation in acute and chronic lung diseases, and the understanding of how cytokine and chemokine biology progress these diseases.

Michigan Medicine has remained dedicated to discovery research, and we continue to cultivate a vibrant and robust community of private investigators and scientists. Many people may not realize that the Medical School contributes 40 percent of all research expenditures across the entire university, followed by the College of Engineering (16 percent) and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (13 percent). Our $580 million in research funding, from a variety of sources, is critical to the advancement of basic science and translational research.

We have identified some crucial areas of research, such as cancer, opioid addiction, mental health, and cardiovascular diseases, and focused our investigative efforts on turning lethal diseases into chronic diseases and chronic diseases into curable diseases. We also are better equipping our researchers, learners, and staff with the tools they need to succeed. And, as we approach the 10-year anniversary of purchasing the former Pfizer research site — now our North Campus Research Complex (NCRC) — we are in the final phase of fully populating this important acquisition. This activity is part of a well-calculated plan based on renovating and maximizing our productive research space, both on our main medical campus and at NCRC, so that our scientists are not hampered by space constraints in their use of the most modern and progressive research protocols.

Another area of focus is increasing the diversity in our faculty and leadership. History has shown that collaborations between investigators with different experiences, backgrounds, and viewpoints are more likely to produce meaningful discoveries, and at a more rapid pace. When we say that we seek the “best and brightest,” our reference is framed within a global context and our broader university-wide diversity initiative.

Looking to the future, I believe my charge is to continue and strengthen Michigan Medicine’s commitment to attracting and retaining the best scientists in the world. I’m incredibly excited about the future of research here, and I look forward to sharing more about our strategic vision and the pivotal milestones that will help shape the next era of health care.

Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D.
Interim Chief Scientific Officer, Michigan Medicine
Interim Executive Vice Dean for Research, Medical School
Peter A. Ward Distinguished University Professor of Pathology
Endowed Professor of Pathology Research, Department of Pathology