BAR HARBOR, Maine — For the first time in its 111-year history, a town biomedical laboratory has hired its first full-time, on-site director.
Kevin Strange, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, is expected to begin his duties as the new director of Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory today, according to a statement released Tuesday by the lab.
Strange will be introduced as the lab’s new director at its annual meeting, which is expected to begin at 10 a.m. today at the lab’s campus in the village of Salisbury Cove.
Strange takes over for John N. Forrest, who has been MDI Bio Lab’s director since 1998. In addition to being director of the lab, Forrest also has held a full-time academic position at Yale School of Medicine. Previous directors also have held similar posts at other institutions while serving at MDI Bio Lab.
Strange is expected to move his research projects from Vanderbilt to Bar Harbor, according to the lab. Strange’s research focuses on a type of small roundworm called C. elegans that he uses to study how substances such as salt or sugar affect the health of cells.
Jeri Bowers, spokeswoman for MDI Bio Lab, said Wednesday that it will take a several months for Strange to make the full transition from Nashville, Tenn., where Vanderbilt University is located, to Bar Harbor. He is expected to begin working at MDI Bio Lab full time in January 2010, she said.
Bowers said Strange has received grants from National Institutes of Health, the funding from which he will bring to the lab so he can continue his research. Once he arrives at the lab full time, Strange expects to expand his work to include the study of the wider issues of aging and cellular damage, according to the lab’s statement.
“He’s basically transferring his research up here,” Bowers said.
In the lab’s prepared statement, Strange indicated that the lab and its scenic waterfront setting made a lasting impression on him when he was a visiting scientist at the lab in summer 1994. He said that joining the lab, which he praised for its “sense of community, its collegiality and diversity,” was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“You can be much more productive up here, I think, than in some sort of concrete bunker in a big medical center,” Strange said in the statement.
MDI Bio Lab, founded in 1898, originally served only as a seasonal lab for scientists who held research and academic positions elsewhere. The lab, which now employs 37 scientists and staff year-round, specializes in marine biomedical research.