USC Michelson Center: 5 Goals

Once opened in 2017, the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience will place the University of Southern California at the forefront of the biomedical research field. Here we look at the 5 principles ways in which this groundbreaking venue will distinguish itself as a new and unique type of institution.

5 Goals: #1-Focusing on the Real-World Benefits of Research

USC Michelson will have a strong and deliberate focus on the real-world applications of research, with the production of direct, observable benefits for humanity being the Center’s ultimate goal.

All research will be conducted “for humanity’s sake” claims Dr. Gary K. Michelson, who is openly critical of the current culture of conducting “research for research’s sake” which is prevalent in many academic institutions (2). Describing a “visionary, daringly bold, overarching architecture for how to conduct science at a university” (2), USC Michelson will achieve “real-world breakthroughs in real time.” (1) and will deliberately contrast this “heads down” approach by focusing on the real, practical benefits of research.

USC President C.L. Nikias has shown absolute support for this new approach to research, praising Dr Michelson’s aim of “disrupting convention with quiet resolve” (3) and also confirmed that USC Michelson will entirely encompass this new goal-based approach, claiming all research conducted there will be “dedicated to improving the lives of others.” (3)

5 Goals: #2-Promoting Convergent Bioscience

Interdisciplinary convergence – the co-operation of researchers from differing academic fields in the pursuit of a common goal – has been heralded by many as the future of scientific research.

A staunch supporter of interdisciplinary convergence, C.L. Max Nikias emphasized that the new venue will embrace this interdisciplinary approach and will nourish “a powerful partnership that will extend across several different disciplines” (6). Referencing the University’s “dedication to interdisciplinary research”; he argued that “science and engineering and medicine cannot be islands of research … rather they must build off each other’s revelations and revolutions.” (1)(3)

Dr Michelson added that his 50-million donation is “all about the promise of [the] convergent scientific method,” explaining that the idea of interdisciplinary convergence “resonates” with his “life work.” (4)(5)

USC Michelson 5 Goals: USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay and his team have identified plant genes that behave like biological clocks. Their work is an example of convergent research that will be housed at the upcoming USC Michelson Center (Photo Credit: USC Kay Lab)

USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay and his team have identified plant genes that behave like biological clocks. Their work is an example of convergent research that will be housed at the upcoming USC Michelson Center. The venue will at first incorporate three fieds: life science, physical sciences, engineering and will bring bring together bioscientists and engineers to accelerate the next generation of applied discoveries. Because highly specialized scientists are progressively becoming isolated in their own fields, missing on constructive suggestions from others which would turn dead ends into potential research directions, USC Michelson will connect experts with wide-ranging perspectives (Photo Credit: USC Kay Lab).

USC Michelson 5 Goals: USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay and his team have identified plant genes that behave like biological clocks. Their work is an example of convergent research that will be housed at the upcoming USC Michelson Center (Photo Credit: USC Kay Lab)

USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay and his team have identified plant genes that behave like biological clocks. Their work is an example of convergent research that will be housed at the upcoming USC Michelson Center. The venue will at first incorporate three fieds: life science, physical sciences, engineering and will bring bring together bioscientists and engineers to accelerate the next generation of applied discoveries. Because highly specialized scientists are progressively becoming isolated in their own fields, missing on constructive suggestions from others which would turn dead ends into potential research directions, USC Michelson will connect experts with wide-ranging perspectives (Photo Credit: USC Kay Lab).

USC Michelson 5 Goals: USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay and his team have identified plant genes that behave like biological clocks. Their work is an example of convergent research that will be housed at the upcoming USC Michelson Center (Photo Credit: USC Kay Lab)

USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay and his team have identified plant genes that behave like biological clocks. Their work is an example of convergent research that will be housed at the upcoming USC Michelson Center. The venue will at first incorporate three fieds: life science, physical sciences, engineering and will bring bring together bioscientists and engineers to accelerate the next generation of applied discoveries. Because highly specialized scientists are progressively becoming isolated in their own fields, missing on constructive suggestions from others which would turn dead ends into potential research directions, USC Michelson will connect experts with wide-ranging perspectives (Photo Credit: USC Kay Lab).

USC Michelson 5 Goals: USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay and his team have identified plant genes that behave like biological clocks. Their work is an example of convergent research that will be housed at the upcoming USC Michelson Center (Photo Credit: USC Kay Lab)

USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay and his team have identified plant genes that behave like biological clocks. Their work is an example of convergent research that will be housed at the upcoming USC Michelson Center. The venue will at first incorporate three fieds: life science, physical sciences, engineering and will bring bring together bioscientists and engineers to accelerate the next generation of applied discoveries. Because highly specialized scientists are progressively becoming isolated in their own fields, missing on constructive suggestions from others which would turn dead ends into potential research directions, USC Michelson will connect experts with wide-ranging perspectives (Photo Credit: USC Kay Lab).

5 Goals: #3-Supporting Development Throughout the Region

With USC Michelson, the University of Southern California is taking a considerable step toward converting L.A. into a major hub of biomedical research.

Dr Michelson made clear the importance of investing in the creation of a “vast medical research ecosystem that will be nucleated around the vision of … this University” (3). As to the best way to recruit up-and-coming scientists, his belief is that more investment in the field of biomedical science is needed so that “L.A. will become the place where the action is to do medical research. Los Angeles should become, to medical research, what Silicon Valley is to information technology. We owe it to the world. We owe it to L.A.” (3)

President Nikias has endorsed this perspective by referencing the integral role that the new Center will play in fulfilling Michelson’s progressive vision, claiming that USC Michelson will “nourish progress throughout the region.” (3)

At the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

At the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

At the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

At the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

5 Goals: #4-Recruiting Great Minds

USC Michelson will provide a forum for some of the greatest minds in academia, established USC Researchers and newcomers, to collaborate in the most productive and practical way.

President Nikias has spoken of how the Center will be a means to “unite the most gifted minds” at the University, bringing together “close to 30 world class interdisciplinary teams.” (6)(3)

Prolific researchers already recruited to the Center include respected biochemist Dr Raymond C. Stevens, renowned cell biologist Dr Peter Kuhn and Dean Steve Kay, a world expert on circadian rhythms, who stated that for successful co-operation between academics you need not only a “willingness to bring them together” but also “a venue.” (6)

USC Michelson 5 Goals: Gary K. Michelson, Raymond C. Stevens at the USC Michelson Bridge Lab Warming [2015-02-11]

Gary K. Michelson and Scripps Research Institute scientist Raymond C. Stevens, along with USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay, inaugurated the USC Michelson Bridge Lab on February 11th, 2015. Stevens, one of the world’s most influential biomedical scientists in molecular research, is bringing his biomedical lab, including about 50 researchers, to the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience; a groundbreaking health-science facility which will house laboratories, microscopy imaging technology facilities and a Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (Credit: Emily Cavalcanti).

USC Michelson 5 Goals: Gary K. Michelson, Raymond C. Stevens at the USC Michelson Bridge Lab Warming [2015-02-11]

Gary K. Michelson and Scripps Research Institute scientist Raymond C. Stevens, along with USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay, inaugurated the USC Michelson Bridge Lab on February 11th, 2015. Stevens, one of the world’s most influential biomedical scientists in molecular research, is bringing his biomedical lab, including about 50 researchers, to the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience; a groundbreaking health-science facility which will house laboratories, microscopy imaging technology facilities and a Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (Credit: Emily Cavalcanti).

USC Michelson 5 Goals: Gary K. Michelson, Raymond C. Stevens at the USC Michelson Bridge Lab Warming [2015-02-11]

Gary K. Michelson and Scripps Research Institute scientist Raymond C. Stevens, along with USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay, inaugurated the USC Michelson Bridge Lab on February 11th, 2015. Stevens, one of the world’s most influential biomedical scientists in molecular research, is bringing his biomedical lab, including about 50 researchers, to the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience; a groundbreaking health-science facility which will house laboratories, microscopy imaging technology facilities and a Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (Credit: Emily Cavalcanti).

USC Michelson 5 Goals: Gary K. Michelson, Raymond C. Stevens at the USC Michelson Bridge Lab Warming [2015-02-11]

Gary K. Michelson and Scripps Research Institute scientist Raymond C. Stevens, along with USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay, inaugurated the USC Michelson Bridge Lab on February 11th, 2015. Stevens, one of the world’s most influential biomedical scientists in molecular research, is bringing his biomedical lab, including about 50 researchers, to the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience; a groundbreaking health-science facility which will house laboratories, microscopy imaging technology facilities and a Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (Credit: Emily Cavalcanti).

5 Goals: #5-Monetizing Products

The ultimate goal of USC Michelson is to reform the way academic institutions monetize the products of their research.

As a patent specialist, Dr Michelson has himself been critical of the way in which most Universities handle their intellectual properties, claiming that “Universities generally do a terrible, terrible job of containing and monetizing the research that they do.” (9) Numerous studies have shown that educational institutions are inefficient at capitalizing on their discoveries (7), with the current model used by Universities for transferring technological advancement and research discoveries into saleable products being described as “unprofitable” (7) and a “complete and utter failure”. (8)

With a focus on “creating new business start-ups and products” that “will extend and improve the quality of life.” (3), USC Michelson will innovate a sustainable technology transfer model which, once proven, can then be emulated by other Universities.

MMRF Initiative Page

References

  1. University announces new center for bioscience [2014-01-13; Nathaniel Haas, Daily Trojan]
  2. Coloring Outside the Lines [2014-04-28; Pamela J. Johnson, USC Dornsife]
  3. USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Keynote Video [2014-10-23; MMRF, YouTube]
  4. USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience [2014-01-13; Katie McKissick, USC Viterbi]
  5. Surgeon and inventor gives $50 million for USC building [2014-01-13; Larry Gordon, L.A. Times]
  6. ConvURGENT Bioscience [2014-05-29; Pamela J. Johnson, USC Dornsife]
  7. University Start-Ups: Critical for Improving Technology Transfer [2013-11-20; Walter D. Valdivia, Brookings]
  8. Patenting University Research Has Been A Dismal Failure, Enabling Patent Trolling. It’s Time To Stop [2013-12-02; Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
  9. $50-Million Gift to Establish Bioscience Center at U. of Southern California [2014-01-13; Don Troop, The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Related Links

Christopher Edward Jones is a biochemist and writer currently affiliated with Queen Mary University of London, where he is part of a research group focusing on the restriction factors of HIV. In the past he has worked with multiple biomedical research groups in both industry and academia. He has a research interest in the biochemical mechanisms of virus restriction and a general interest in all areas of science.

Christopher Edward Jones is a biochemist and writer currently affiliated with Queen Mary University of London, where he is part of a research group focusing on the restriction factors of HIV. In the past he has worked with multiple biomedical research groups in both industry and academia. He has a research interest in the biochemical mechanisms of virus restriction and a general interest in all areas of science.

Christopher Edward Jones is a biochemist and writer currently affiliated with Queen Mary University of London, where he is part of a research group focusing on the restriction factors of HIV. In the past he has worked with multiple biomedical research groups in both industry and academia. He has a research interest in the biochemical mechanisms of virus restriction and a general interest in all areas of science.

Christopher Edward Jones is a biochemist and writer currently affiliated with Queen Mary University of London, where he is part of a research group focusing on the restriction factors of HIV. In the past he has worked with multiple biomedical research groups in both industry and academia. He has a research interest in the biochemical mechanisms of virus restriction and a general interest in all areas of science.

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Southern California and the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience thanks to the generous support of Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson.

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Southern California and the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience thanks to the generous support of Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson.

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Southern California and the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience thanks to the generous support of Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson.

The Michelson Medical Research Foundation is a proud supporter of the University of Southern California and the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience thanks to the generous support of Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson.