Henry Ford Health + Michigan State University Break Ground on $335M Research Facility

The official groundbreaking took place this morning for the Henry Ford Health + Michigan State University Health Sciences Research Center in the New Center neighborhood.
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Ground was broken today for the $335-million Henry Ford Health + Michigan State University Health Sciences Research Center in the New Center neighborhood. // Rendering courtesy of Henry Ford Health/MSU

The official groundbreaking took place this morning for the Henry Ford Health + Michigan State University Health Sciences Research Center in the New Center neighborhood.

Work on the $335 million research facility — a hallmark of the 30-year partnership between the two Michigan institutions — officially began in late May. The health sciences research center is the first physical embodiment of the Henry Ford + MSU partnership.

A key focus in this research is closing the gap in health care outcomes for people based on race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. In addition, it is MSU’s largest research facility, designed to house more than 80 principal investigator teams.

“When Michigan State and Henry Ford first embarked on this partnership, we knew and believed in what was possible,” says Kevin M. Guskiewicz, president of MSU. “Now, our health sciences research is unified under the partnership, we have the top-funded women’s health research program in the nation, and our researchers have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make discoveries that will definitively improve the lives and health of countless individuals.”

The research center is a foundational component of the Future of Health: Detroit — a $3 billion development between Henry Ford, MSU, and Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons meant to reimagine and redefine health and well-being for the Detroit community and beyond.

The development will be anchored by a major Henry Ford Hospital expansion, and will feature mixed-income housing and retail development by the Detroit Pistons.

“I am so energized not only by the life-changing research that’s already happening within the partnership, but also by the prospect of what more we can accomplish together inside the walls of the cutting-edge research center we are building in Detroit,” says Bob Riney, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health.

“We have a unique opportunity in front of us to meaningfully impact the health of the diverse population we serve through our collective research, while also serving as a national model for the power and potential of university and health care collaboration.”

Located on Third Street just across from the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center, and visible from the Lodge Freeway, the new research center will:

  • Include 335,000 square feet and seven stories of state-of-the-art laboratory space;
  • Expand research in key areas including cancer, neuroscience, immunology, hypertension and more; and
  • Provide advanced technology to help recruit top researchers from across the country, offering cutting-edge opportunities for more than 500 team members.

The research center also will house the Nick Gilbert Neurofibromatosis Research Institute (NGNRI), the first-of-its-kind brick-and-mortar institution devoted to researching neurofibromatosis (NF) a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerve pathways throughout the body.

NGNRI is named after the late son of Detroit-area philanthropists Dan and Jennifer Gilbert, who, together through the Gilbert Family Foundation and sister nonprofit NF Forward, have invested more than $125 million into research to cure NF. Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is the most common form of the disease and affects one in every 2,500 births around the world.

Dan and Jennifer Gilbert, co-founders of Gilbert Family Foundation in Detroit, joined other dignitaries at the event to offer their support.

“Nick fought this terrible disease his entire life,” says Dan Gilbert. “His optimistic spirit and resilience never wavered as he became an example of the kind of fight we expect the research institute named after him to display as it battles to find a cure for NF. … We are enormously proud, and we know Nick would be too, to stand alongside so many passionate partners who share in our commitment to eradicate this disease.”

Local leaders praised the partners’ efforts to fight health disparities, improve access to health care, and bring jobs to the community.

“Detroiters deserve the very best medical treatment and that starts with world-class research,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “When it opens in 2027, this beautiful new facility will play an important role in closing the gap in health outcomes based on race, ethnicity, and income. We all are deeply appreciative to Henry Ford Health and MSU for their leadership and to Dan and Jennifer Gilbert for their remarkable generosity in funding the Nick Gilbert Neurofibromatosis Research Institute.”

For more information, visit henryfordmsu.org/research.