Purdue life sciences investment plan grows to $250 million

Purdue University plans to spend $250 million over the next five years to bulk up its work in the life sciences sectors, the state-funded university system announced on Wednesday.

The money will be used to hire 60 faculty members in life sciences-related fields, as well as numerous staff members to assist them. Purdue also expects to use some of the money to purchase new research equipment and build facilities focused on life sciences.

The $250 million figure includes $60 million that was announced by Purdue in October to establish an Integrative Neuroscience Center and the Institute for Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease. Purdue now plans to hire a director for the neuroscience center and a professor of drug discovery as part of its life sciences expansion.

Purdue expects to raise the funding via its $2 billion capital campaign, dubbed Ever True, which was launched in October.

“The life sciences are a critical part of our considerable research portfolio at Purdue, and enhancing our impact and reputation in this area is of great significance to Purdue’s future,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in October.

In a written statement issued Wednesday, Daniels said a review by Purdue officials and faculty concluded that “the life sciences was the sector where Purdue has the greatest unexploited research potential.”

The announcements come roughly two years after Purdue committed another $60 million to launch what it called the Purdue Drug Discovery Initiative. That effort involved building a new facility to house disparate programs doing drug discovery work, to hire nine new researchers and to purchase new equipment.

Purdue now has 40 drug compounds developed by its researchers in some stage of testing to become marketed medicines.

“[These investments] will make Purdue an even more important player in drug discovery and applied life sciences research—attracting industry partners, stimulating innovation-based growth in Indiana, and above all turning scientific leads into potential new treatments,” said John Lechleiter, CEO of Indianapolis-based drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co., in a statement released by Purdue.

Purdue’s spending plans include purchasing high-throughput screening instrumentation, the  establishment of a chemical genomics facility, a new facility focused on neurosciences and upgrades to existing buildings.

The new faculty Purdue plans to hire will be spread across six of its colleges, including science, pharmacy, engineering, health and human sciences and agriculture.

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