MDIBL event today highlights ‘reverse brain drain’

Posted Aug. 04, 2014, at 8:49 a.m.

A powerful partnership in scientific research; College of the Atlantic lauds $18.4M workforce training grant at MDI Biological Laboratory today

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The receipt of $18.4 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to MDI Biological Laboratory represents “reverse brain drain” that will strengthen biomedical research and workforce training in Maine while continuing to provide unparalleled research opportunities to College of the Atlantic students.

At an event at 12:30 p.m. Monday today at the MDIBL research campus in Bar Harbor, representatives of several institutions will talk about how the new $18.4 million in funds from the Maine IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program will support research fellowships that lead to high quality, high-paying scientific research jobs in Maine.

INBRE is an NIH-supported network of 13 Maine institutions in which COA has actively participated since 2002.

The goal of INBRE is to strengthen Maine’s capacity to conduct cutting-edge biomedical research. Thanks to INBRE funds, more than 100 COA students have worked in classrooms and done research with investigators at MDIBL and the Jackson Laboratory in the past 13 years.

“Programs like INBRE go a long way toward building an innovation economy in Maine,” said College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins ‘92. “This new grant will extend the groundbreaking work at MDIBL. It will strengthen the bond among great MDI research institutions. And it will provide Maine a conduit of great young scientific talent from colleges like COA.”

INBRE funds have allowed COA undergraduates to interact with scientists at The Jackson Laboratory and MDI Biological Laboratory, and guest faculty members from these laboratories enrich COA courses by leading hands-on instruction, including techniques in molecular genetics and developmental biology, Collins said.

“The experience has definitely provided me with knowledge and skills that would aid with furthering my education,” said Roshni Mangar ‘15, a COA student and 2014 INBRE participant who studied the effects of pro-oxidant chemicals on the development of zebrafish while on an INBRE-funded fellowship at MDIBL this summer.

Paul Smith ‘11, went on to become a research associate at the Flatley Discovery Laboratory in Charlestown, Mass., working to conduct drug discovery research in an attempt to cure cystic fibrosis.

“My education at COA coupled with my INBRE training in genomics, bioinformatics, and traditional mammalian genetics made adapting and learning the principles of medicinal and medical chemistry, high-throughput cell-based fluorescent screening, cell culture, and drug discovery easy,” Smith said in an update e-mailed to the college. “INBRE builds scientific intuition through partnership and mentoring, not just cutting-edge science training.”

COA has used INBRE funding to add modern on-campus genetic laboratory components in cellular and molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry. COA also has upgraded computer laboratory facilities for classes in introductory cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, statistics, calculus, and programming.

“At COA, 17% of our students are from Maine but over 30% remain in this great state,” Collins said. “We are a perfect example of reverse brain drain, and INBRE has been an important engine behind that.”

Collins will detail the career paths of some of the 100-plus College of the Atlantic students who have benefited from INBRE funding, at an event at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4 at the MDIBL research campus in Bar Harbor.

Yuka Takemon, a 2014 College of the Atlantic graduate and current Jackson Laboratory research assistant, will also be on hand to talk about the benefits of INBRE.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit

This post was contributed by a community member. Submit your news →