BAR HARBOR, Maine — Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory dedicated its newest laboratory building on Friday and got a visit from the 105-year-old benefactor after whom it is named.

Construction of the Kathryn W. Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine was completed this past spring. The 10,000-square-foot, $4.8-million building was funded largely through the National Institutes of Health and will be home to the lab’s research into how some marine and amphibian species regenerate limbs. The research is being funded by a grant from the Department of Defense.

Davis, a philanthropist who summers on MDI in Northeast Harbor, has financially supported the lab’s efforts to recruit four new faculty members to the lab since 2010, according to a prepared statement released Friday by MDI Bio Lab. Davis was on hand Friday to help cut a ceremonial ribbon set up outside the new laboratory building.

“I firmly believe your efforts will have a lasting impact on human health,” the lab’s director, Dr. Kevin Strange, told Davis in front of a crowd who had gathered for the ceremony.

Construction of the building, which began in October 2010, kept 24 people employed in design and construction jobs, and will allow the lab to hire two more research groups, each with a staff of four to seven researchers and technicians, according to lab officials. The new building and the attached Morris Building, completed in 2008, both were designed by WBRC Architects in Bangor and built by Brewer construction firm Nickerson O’Day. Both were built to environmental standards established by the U.S Green Building Council.

Davis is a native of Germantown, Pa., and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her husband was ambassador to Switzerland from 1969 to 1975. A recipient of the EastWest Institute Peace and Conflict Prevention Prize, Davis is a partner of Shelby Cullom Davis & Company, an investment firm founded by her husband.

Davis and the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation also have donated several million dollars in recent years to other MDI institutions, including College of the Atlantic, the historical society on Great Cranberry Island, The Jackson Laboratory, Friends of Acadia, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Abbe Museum, according to

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Bill Trotter

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....