A top researcher and administrator at the Medical University of South Carolina is leaving Charleston for a job in Michigan.

Dr. Stephen M. Lanier, associate provost for research at MUSC, has been named vice president for research at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Lanier said the move isn't related to recent change in the top job at MUSC. He said was weighing job offers even before Dr. Ray Greenberg stepped down as university president last summer. Greenberg was replaced by MUSC surgeon Dr. David Cole last week.

"A lot of factors came in to play," Lanier said Tuesday.

For one, he said, he'd been itching to expand beyond the medical field. Lanier described Wayne State as a "comprehensive research institution" where he will interact with engineers, physicists and other professionals as well as health care experts.

"I've always wanted to work in little bit bigger urban area," he said.

Contrary to reports, he added, Detroit is in the midst of a revival after having filed the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in July. He noted that Detroit has a new mayor and that the big car makers that put Motor City on the map are doing well again.

"There's lots of money flowing into the city," Lanier said. "There are a lot of committed people there."

In his administrative role at MUSC, Lanier has served as chief scientific officer. His responsibilities included regulatory affairs, technology transfer, and research training, among others. He's also a professor of cell and molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics.

He's had two stints at MUSC, starting as faculty member from 1991 to 2001, when he left to work in New Orleans. He returned to Charleston in his current $295,113-a-year position in 2007.

Lanier was involved in the 2009 opening of the Innovation Center, a collaborative high-tech incubator site spearheaded by MUSC, the S.C. Research Authority and the city of Charleston on upper Meeting Street. He also was instrumental in the construction of two research buildings on the MUSC campus that are dedicated to bioengineering and drug discoveries.

"It's been a whirlwind tour," he said.

He starts his new job June 16.

M. Ray Wilson, president of the nearly 29,000-student Wayne State, cited Lanier's past experience in area such as technology transfer, or the commercialization of faculty research.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.