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Addressing health disparities: Wayne State University’s IBio Center

June 3, 2016


Studies have documented disparities in disease occurrence and health outcomes among nonwhite and economically disadvantaged populations, including higher death rates from cardiovascular disease and greater incidence of diabetes, asthma and obesity. These disparities are often acute in urban areas, and Detroit is no exception. Wayne State University has been working to address these disparities through its research and community engagement for many years. Researchers such as Dr. Sylvie Naar­King, Dr. Phillip Levy and Dr. Julie Gleason Comstock have focused much of their work on addressing behavior change, illness management, better patient screening and hospital discharge.

The university’s most recent investment in addressing health disparities in Detroit is the new Integrative Biosciences Center (IBio). The $93 million facility, located in Midtown on a previously abandoned 2.7­acre city block, is Wayne State’s largest construction project to date. The building includes laboratories, faculty offices, common areas, a clinical research center, Henry Ford Health System’s bone and joint research program and biomechanics motion laboratory, and the Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors. The university estimates that IBio will bring in nearly $40 million of new earnings annually in Michigan, 98 percent of which will be in metropolitan Detroit.

“Rarely does a university get to live its vision and mission on a scale of this magnitude,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “The Integrative Biosciences Center embodies what it means to be a public, urban research university — creating and sharing knowledge that contributes immensely to improving the quality of life for its surrounding community. Research conducted in this center will also have important applications in other urban communities around the world.”