First shovels: Tom Gores-backed ‘Future of Health’ project breaks ground on $335 million research center to combat public health issues

June 21, 2024 | Articles Homepage News The Pistons

First shovels: Tom Gores-backed ‘Future of Health’ project breaks ground on $335 million research center to combat public health issues

DETROIT – It was a monumental occasion.

Representatives from Henry Ford Health, Michigan State University and the Detroit Pistons joined city and state officials and community leaders to officially start the process of transforming the New Center neighborhood for the Future of Health project, a $3 billion collaborative mixed-use development project backed by Pistons owner Tom Gores

Henry Ford CEO Bob Riney, MSU President Kevin Guskiewicz, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and philanthropists Dan and Jennifer Gilbert and other officials dug shovels into the ground at the future site of the Henry Ford Health + Michigan State University Health Sciences Research Center, a state-of-the-art $335 million facility to be constructed on the site next to Henry Ford’s One Ford Place headquarters.

The research center, which will focus on cancer, neuroscience, immunology, hypertension and other public health issues, will be the first development of the project. When completed, the center will house more than 500 medical professionals in the 335,000-square-foot facility.

“I truly believe that the research center we’re here for today is much more than a new building,” Riney said earlier this month. “This facility will come to serve as a beacon of hope and wellbeing for our Detroit community and beyond because the discoveries and advancements that happen here have the capability to indelibly change healthcare as we know it.”  

The center will be MSU’s largest research facility when completed in 2027.

“This new research center will be a talent magnet,” Guskiewicz said. “We’re going to attract talent, people will want to work and study here and we’re going to address some of the greatest challenges of our time regarding neuroscience, infectious disease and neurofibromatosis.” 

A key focus of the research center will be closing the gap in health care outcomes for people based on race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status. The project, which will eventually introduce a $2.5 billion hospital tower, is scheduled to be completed by 2029.

Pistons representatives attended the groundbreaking. Along with Gores, who is a Michigan State graduate and the founder and CEO of private equity firm Platinum Equity, the Pistons will aim to eventually transform One Ford Place into a vibrant area of housing, retail and walkable areas.

“By expanding our partnership with Henry Ford Health and collaborating with Michigan State University on the Future of Health project, we aim to transform the New Center area into an integrated, walkable, mixed-use neighborhood that serves as a global hub for healthcare and medical research,” Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem said. “Our goal is to create a vibrant community that seamlessly integrates sports, healthcare and urban development, ultimately benefiting the people of Detroit and beyond.”

The Pistons partnered with Henry Ford Health on the $137 million Henry Ford-Pistons Performance Center, which opened in 2019. The development is yet another example of the spirit of partnership that was a major catalyst for Gores’ decision to return the franchise to downtown Detroit in 2017.

“When Tom Gores presented me with the opportunity to lead this storied franchise, my mission would be focused on executing a vision that extended beyond the basketball court,” Tellem said. “This vision began with relocating the team back to Detroit, playing games at Little Caesars Arena, and constructing a publicly accessible headquarters in partnership with Henry Ford Health. This move paved the way for making a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhoods through our $2.5 million city courts program and our upcoming Rouge Park community center project.”

Additionally, the research center will also house the Nick Gilbert Neurofibromatosis Research Institute (NGNRI), which will be devoted to researching neurofibromatosis (NF), a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerve pathways throughout the body. The institute is named after the late son of Dan and Jennifer Gilbert.

“Today, we are proud to take a whole step forward in defeating this terrible disease by breaking ground on this first-of-its-kind facility,” Jennifer Gilbert said. “Nick was a pillar of strength throughout his 26 years of life, publicly sharing his story. It’s exactly what inspires Dan and I to double down on our fight against NF and through this investment at the Gilbert Family Foundation, we maintain four NF research initiatives focused on addressing the unmet clinical needs of NF patients.”

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