Jackson Lab gets nearly $900,000 for research

Posted June 03, 2009, at 8:19 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:07 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The Jackson Laboratory is getting nearly $900,000 as part of more than a million dollars coming to Maine to fund biomedical research, according to federal officials.

Jackson Lab is set to receive $883,050 to be divided up among multiple research projects, and Maine Medical Center in Portland is expected to receive $407,000 for cardiovascular research. The money is coming to Maine in the form of grants from the federal National Institute of Health, according to prepared statements re-leased this week by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

According to one statement, Jackson Lab is receiving $361,050 for cancer research. In another statement, the senators indicated that the lab also is receiving $435,000 for craniofacial gene discovery research and $87,000 to help fund research of the pathogenesis of Rett Syndrome.

According to the Web site Medline Plus, Rett Syndrome is “a rare inherited disease that causes developmental and nervous system problems, mostly in girls.”

The approximate $1.3 million total is coming to the two institutions as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to Snowe and Collins.

“We are pleased that Maine’s own Jackson Laboratory and Maine Medical Center are at the forefront of our nation’s medical research efforts,” the senators said in a joint statement.

In addition to the research funding, Jackson Lab also hopes to add a new building to its local Route 3 campus. The lab has applied to the town of Bar Harbor for approval of a 20,000 square-foot, four-story building that would be used for various lab operations, according to a legal notice published in a local weekly newspaper.

The building, named the Importation Isolation Facility, would include a cryopreservation repository, lab and support areas, animal distribution facilities, a personnel locker room and space for additional uses, according to the notice.

Lab spokeswoman Joyce Peterson said Wednesday that construction of the building is being funded by a $4.7 million grant the lab received last year from the Maine Technology Asset Fund, which is administered by Maine Technology Institute. The state grant is aimed at boosting the lab’s research and development capacity, in-cluding commercialization opportunities, lab officials have said.

Other capital projects at the lab still are being delayed because of the continuing sluggish economy, according to Peterson. Late last year, the poor economy prompted lab officials to put on hold another project to build a new 51,000-square-foot distribution and warehouse center.

Earlier this year, Jackson Lab laid off approximately 50 employees and temporarily reduced hours for more than 300 more because of the recession. With more than 1,300 employees, however, the lab remains the largest employer in Hancock County.

Jackson Lab is known worldwide as a leader in biomedical research. It uses mice to study human diseases and medical conditions and breeds millions of mice each year that are used in similar scientific studies across the globe.

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