MDI biological lab launches $20M fundraising campaign

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 13, 2011, at 5:58 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — As part of an effort to expand its research program, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory has announced that it plans to raise $20 million by the end of 2014.

The lab, which studies primarily marine species for biomedical research, has raised $11.4 million since the campaign quietly got under way last year, lab officials recently announced.

Of that amount, $6.4 million has been raised in the form of federal grants and $5 million in direct donations to the lab. The lab hopes to raise half of the $20 million targeted by the Connections Campaign in government grants and the rest from private donors.

According to Jerilyn Bowers, spokeswoman for the lab, $10.8 million of the $20 million will be used to recruit new research groups to the lab. The lab’s initial recruitment focus will be on the Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine, the creation of which was announced last year, Bowers said Friday in an email. The focus of the center’s research, funded largely by the Department of Defense, is to study how some vertebrates regrow limbs and whether humans might one day be able to do the same.

The Davis Center will be housed in a $4.3 million building currently under construction at the lab’s campus in the local village of Salisbury Cove. According to Bowers, the building’s envelope is approximately 70 percent complete and should be enclosed by early fall. The building, funded by $3.8 million in federal grants and approximately half a million in privately donated funds, is scheduled to be finished by next spring, she said.

The building’s construction is part of $5.6 million in infrastructure improvements that are part of the $20 million campaign, Bowers said. The remainder of the campaign’s funds — what is not going toward the $10.8 million recruitment effort or the $5.6 million in infrastructure upgrades — will go toward educational programs and additional administrative support, she said.

Lab officials also recently announced that a new laboratory building completed in 2008 will be named in honor of Wistar and Martha Morris of Villanova, Pa. The Morrises, who summer in Northeast Harbor, have donated $1 million to the $20 million fundraising effort and have given a total of $2.5 million to the lab over the years. Wistar Morris is a member of the lab’s board of trustees and is chairman of the board’s investment committee.

“Wistar and Martha have played a critical role in fueling MDIBL’s growth over the past seven years,” the lab’s director, Dr. Kevin Strange, said in a prepared statement.

The Morris Building, completed in 2008, was built to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, as is the building currently under construction.

Founded in 1898 as a seasonal lab in Harpswell, MDI Bio Lab moved to Mount Desert Island in 1921. In recent decades, the lab has shifted from being primarily seasonal to a year-round research institution, increasing the number of its year-round employees from nine to 50.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/08/13/news/hancock/mdi-biological-lab-launches-20m-fundraising-campaign/ printed on July 30, 2014