BAR HARBOR, Maine — Citing the poor economy, The Jackson Laboratory has decided to postpone its plans to build a new distribution and warehouse center.
The planned Core Operations facility would combine existing functions at the Bar Harbor laboratory into one building, Jackson Lab spokeswoman Joyce Peterson indicated Saturday in an e-mail. The lab has decided to continue using its existing warehousing, materials management and distribution facilities for a while longer to make sure it has funding for more important functions, she wrote.
“Given the uncertain economic environment, lab officials decided it would be prudent to preserve our capital for more immediate, mission-critical needs that may arise in the short term,” Peterson said.
Jackson Lab employs more than 1,400 people, the vast majority of whom work in Bar Harbor, and is known worldwide as a leader in biomedical research. Scientists at Jackson Lab use mice to study human disease and medical conditions and breed numerous strains of mice that are used in similar research projects around the globe. This year, the lab expects to ship 2.5 million mice to approximately 16,000 researchers in more than 60 countries.
Bar Harbor’s planning board gave its approval to the 51,415-square-foot facility in June, with work expected to begin last fall. Peterson said that a revised date for beginning construction on the building has not yet been set.
Peterson stressed that the lab has had a successful year and that its current budget is $168.9 million, or more than $8 million higher than the previous year. For 2008, more than $90 million of the lab’s annual revenue comes from its mouse-breeding division, JAX Mice & Services. That is about $10 million more than the amount the same division generated in revenue in 2007. Government sources contributed more than $54 million of the lab’s operating revenue for 2008.
Peterson indicated that the lab has not made any changes to its plans to expand the number of its research groups from 36 to 45 over the next three to five years. Two new investigators are expected to join the lab’s research faculty by the end of next month, which will bring the number of the lab’s research groups to 38, she said.
In October, the lab announced that computer scientist Matthew Hibbs would be joining the lab in January 2009. Hibbs, a specialist in bioinformatics and computational biology, comes to Jackson Lab from Princeton University, where he has served as a postdoctoral research assistant.
Last month, the lab announced that Chengkai Dai would join its research faculty. Dai, a cancer researcher, is coming to Maine from Cambridge, Mass., where he is finishing a postdoctoral appointment at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, which is affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
More information on Jackson Lab is available at its Web site, www.jax.org.