Like many universities and organizations during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the institutions that make up Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) — Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University — moved classes online and shifted to conducting most research remotely.
Hundreds of researchers at the three universities also answered the call to better understand fighting and surviving this new threat. Labs shifted existing research to more than 400 projects related to COVID-19. Researchers worked on seeking new vaccines and treatments for the virus, investigated health disparities, developed models to support businesses that had to close their doors, distributed resources to help teachers and parents instruct children at home, and created effective new personal protection equipment, thermometers and virus screening tests. Some of this research was conducted in the homes of faculty members, research colleagues and students.
Governor Whitmer’s May 15 executive order lifting restrictions on university research initiated a safe and strategic return to campus. The URC universities are safely reactivating labs and research buildings, and enacting safety protocols that include additional disinfection, the distribution of PPE, new floor plans to allow for social distancing and building-by-building water testing to make sure facilities are ready to safely support activity again.
By July, thousands of researchers returned to their respective campuses, moving research activity back to campus as part of plans to continue research and innovation at all three universities. Whether focusing on their previous work or starting new research projects to tackle the challenges facing our world, URC universities are continuing to lead the way toward a better and safer tomorrow.
The University Research Corridor showcases Michigan’s world class universities, economic competitiveness, and scientific breakthroughs being made every day in our state. This innovative partnership is creating jobs, fostering relationships with all types of businesses, from our largest corporations to smallest entrepreneurial businesses, and driving innovation in all sectors of our economy.
I think certainly there has been an uptick in entrepreneurship in the state, and I think a lot of that is owed to the URC getting more involved in economic development in the last 10 years.
The URC is an incredible asset for our industry, state, and citizens in terms of the scale of R&D conducted at its universities in critically important areas. Medical and healthcare discoveries with the potential to improve and save lives position Michigan as a top state for innovation in the life, medical and health sciences.