BAR HARBOR, Maine — Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory has received an $18.4 million federal grant that will be used to support biomedical research programs in Maine, according to officials.
The grant from the National Institutes of Health will provide funding for five years to the Maine Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence program, which is a collaborative network that includes MDI Bio Lab and 12 other Maine research and education institutions, lab officials wrote Thursday in a prepared statement. It is expected to provide funding for 800 undergraduate and graduate students to pursue research training and to help fund student-assisted research by 14 science faculty members throughout Maine.
The main focus of the INBRE program, which was created in 2001, has been to provide support, training and opportunities in Maine for early-career biomedical scientists in order to help boost the state’s growing biomedical research sector, lab officials have said.
“This is great news for Maine and MDI Biological Laboratory,” Kevin Strange, president of the lab, said in the prepared statement. “This grant will help us continue to build Maine’s innovation economy.”
More than half of the $18.4 million will be distributed among the network’s partners to help build research infrastructure and to attract accomplished scientists to Maine, Strange said.
The network is led by MDI Bio Lab, which has about 50 employees and specializes in using marine species for biomedical research. Other members include The Jackson Laboratory, University of Maine, College of the Atlantic, UMaine Honors College, Southern Maine Community College, UMaine colleges at Farmington, Fort Kent and Machias, and Bates, Bowdoin and Colby colleges.
In 2009, the network received $18.7 million to fund similar biomedical research training opportunities. That same year, it received an additional $1.73 million to help fund broadband expansion to research and higher-learning institutions in northern and eastern Maine.
Over the past 13 years the network has attracted more than $93 million in federal funds to Maine, trained more than 2,000 Maine students in biomedical research techniques and led to the creation of more than 100 new high-paying jobs in the state, according to lab officials.
Of the students who have participated in network programs and graduated from college, 90 percent are pursuing careers or graduate education in health-related fields, they said in the release.