Life sciences hopeful offers vision for MU

Wednesday, October 1, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:25 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

David A. Hart has high expectations for the new $60 million Life Sciences Center, which is scheduled to open in fall 2004.

“The Life Sciences Center needs to be committed to research and training excellence, should be transdisciplinary and active, dynamic, flexible, on the cutting edge and proactive,” Hart said during a public forum Tuesday. “This should result in increased productivity, increasing funding and an enhanced impact on problems.”

The second of four candidates contending for director, Hart on Monday presented his scientific seminar, “Molecular and Cell Biology of Wound Healing in Porcine Models: Current Understanding and Future Directions.”

Hart recently served a five-year term as head of the microbiology and infectious diseases program at the University of Calgary in Canada. He has been a professor in the department since 1983. He has also served as a professor in medicine and surgery in the division of orthopedics. In addition, he is the Calgary Foundation-Grace Glaum professor in arthritis research.

If selected as director, Hart wants to strengthen MU’s proposed themes of genes and genomes, cellular communication and interaction, and health and the environment.

“It’s on the right track, but it could go farther,” he said. “In the past, we’ve tried to synthesize the strengths of both the problem-solving approach and the hypothesis-driven approach, and through this we’re able to move forward at a faster pace.”

Hart would like the center to be considered a “central hub,” interacting with other programs on campus, such as biophysics, computer sciences and bioinformatics, and the social sciences. He views the director as someone who needs to interact with department heads as well as play an integral part in the themes researched at the center.

“I see the role of director as a synthesizer between themes and in the development of the themes,” he said. “Strategic alliances will need to be formed outside the university because you don’t want to duplicate what someone else is doing well.”

Jim Coleman, vice provost for research, said the director will be expected to pull the faculty together from across campus, as well as make sure the center is maintaining cutting edge integrated research.

Research at the life sciences center will be performed in 44 labs by as many as 40 principle investigators.

Hart received his doctorate from Michigan State University in biochemistry and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

The third candidate, R. Michael Roberts, curators’ professor at MU, will present his scientific seminar on Monday. A public forum will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the MU Health Sciences Center.

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