$24.6 million federal grant helps maintain jobs at Jackson Lab

The Jackson Laboratory on Mount Desert Island is seen in an aerial photo taken in 2009.
BDN File Photo
The Jackson Laboratory on Mount Desert Island is seen in an aerial photo taken in 2009.
Posted Sept. 27, 2011, at 6:42 p.m.

BAR HARBOR — The Jackson Laboratory has received a $24.6 million federal grant to continue operating the world’s largest database for genetic information on laboratory mice that are key to human medical research.

The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will provide funding for a program, known as the Mouse Genome Database, that directly employs 35 people and is part of a larger genome informatics program at Jackson Lab that generates nearly 9 million online hits per week.

As open-source databases, the Mouse Genome Database and others like it maintained by Jackson Lab are accessible to researchers and scientists around the globe for work on cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other human diseases.

“The laboratory mouse is the world’s leading model for human disease and biology,” Jackson Lab professor Janan T. Eppig said in a statement released Tuesday. “The goal of [the Mouse Genome Database] is to facilitate use of the mouse and to enable development of new hypotheses for new discoveries in human medicine.”

The grant will help fund Jackson Lab’s efforts to compile genome-scale information on both mice and humans as well as make the database more user-friendly while providing additional technical support and training for users.

Joyce Peterson, spokeswoman for the lab, said it is significant that the NIH grant provides funding for an additional five years at a time when the pool for some federal grant money is shrinking or drying up.

“This will enable us to maintain the jobs we have here,” Peterson said.

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