MDI labs to get nearly $6M from Feds

Posted Sept. 18, 2009, at 11:46 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:57 a.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Two local scientific laboratories are getting nearly $6 million in federal stimulus money to help with planned construction projects.

The Jackson Laboratory and Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory separately announced the grants from National Institutes of Health this week. Jackson Lab is set to receive $2.1 million to build space for its expanding bioinformatics and computational biology programs. MDI Bio Lab is receiving $3.86 million to build a new 10,000-square-foot research building on its campus in the local village of Salisbury Cove.

The grants are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the labs indicated.

MDI Bio Lab officials indicated in their prepared statement that the proposed building, like a 15,000-square-foot laboratory facility it completed last year, will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. It will provide needed research space for the lab’s increasing number of year-round employees, which has grown from nine to 45 over the past 10 years, they indicated. It will replace the lab’s Marshall Building, which was built in 1971, and is expected to be ready for occupancy by the end of 2011.

At the larger Jackson Lab, because of increasing demand worldwide for bioinformatic and computational biology technology, lab administrators have decided to add four new investigators to its faculty over the next five years. The researchers will boost the lab’s level of expertise in applying computational approaches to solving biological problems, Jackson Lab officials indicated in a prepared statement.

The grant from NIH’s National Center for Research Resources will fund added space for the new scientists and additional computing hardware needed to help support the lab’s increasingly data-intensive research.

The $2.1 million grant brings Jackson Lab’s share of federal stimulus funding to more than $5.8 million, which includes grants it has received for cancer, diabetes, cholesterol and neurological disease research, lab officials indicated.

Jackson Lab, recognized worldwide as a leader in biomedical research, uses mice to study human diseases and medical conditions and breeds millions of mice each year that are used in similar research around the globe. With more than 1,300 employees, Jackson Lab is the largest employer in Hancock County and one of the largest in eastern Maine.

Last month, the two labs received a total of more than $700,000 in federal grants for genetic research, also as a part of federal stimulus funds.

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