A month ago, Chancellor John Wiley announced a total of $100 million in donations toward the construction of an on-campus biomedical research complex. And now the University of Wisconsin is asking its scientists and researchers what they want to do with it.

With $3 million on hand in seed grant money to help "jump-start" research projects at the yet-to-be-constructed Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, UW is asking it scientists and researchers for research-project proposals.

University scientists and researchers have until June 1 to submit their proposals to a panel of UW faculty members for consideration.

According to UW spokesperson Dennis Chaptman, the university is encouraging collaboration between various scientific disciplines.

"What we're hoping to do is continue the campus conversation about collaboration and interdisciplinary research," Chaptman said. "There's no limit on the type of collaboration that's possible at the institutes."

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a top private funding resource for UW, will donate the $3 million for the Discovery Program Seed Grant Initiative.

Since the funds were raised privately, the possibility for human embryonic stem-cell research at the privately funded Morgridge Institute for Discovery — one of the two institutes to be constructed — remains open, Chaptman said.

However, Chaptman added that the university would by no means focus on stem-cell research, but rather a "broad array of scientific inquiry."

According to WARF spokesperson Andy Cohn, it will be up to the UW faculty to decide what direction the institutes will take.

"A committee of faculty members will choose what are the most intriguing and most relevant goals of the institutes," Cohn said, adding the university will hold two information sessions to inform the campus community about the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery will be comprised of two centers — one privately funded, the other publicly — and will be located on the 1200 and 1300 blocks of University Avenue.

Construction for the first institute — the privately funded Morgridge Institute for Discovery — is scheduled to begin in mid- to late 2007 and be completed in 2009.

Funding for the project was aided considerably by the April 3 announcement of the largest individual gift to UW in the school's history — a $50 million donation from UW alumni John Morgridge, chair of the board of Cisco Systems, and his wife, Tashia.

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