MDI Bio Lab Gets $18M Federal Grant 

A research laboratory on Mount Desert Island celebrated a big step forward today in the form of some major federal funding.

The MDI Biological laboratory is receiving 18-point-four-million-dollars from the National Institutes of Health.

That grant will help continue a program called the Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence–or INBRE–which is a collaboration with research institutions throughout Maine.

“What we’re doing different this time is we’re reaching out to still other institutions in the state to collaborate with them. Institutions like Maine Medical Center Research Institute, the University of New England, and regional institutions,” said Patricia Hand, V.P. for Administration at the MDI Bio Lab.

Senator Susan Collins wrote a letter supporting the grant.

“This is the kind of investment that we need in Maine. It will help train many of the students who take advantage of the programs in scientific careers, and it also has created more than 200 jobs in Maine since Maine started receiving funding,” said Collins.

Officials here at MDI Bio Lab say this new funding will allow them to continue to do cutting-edge biomedical research right here in Maine.

“It has actually really helped me actually just introduce me into the biomedical field as a student and transition me directly into a job after I graduated at Jackson lab,” said Yuka Takemon, who is now a research assistant at nearby Jackson Lab.

Senator Collins says she’s excited to see the fruits of that research.

“I’m particularly interested in the research that’s being done here to regenerate tissues. That has implications for everything from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s to heart disease, and the work that’s being done here with the zebra fish to look at the regeneration of cells is so exciting,” said Collins.

We got an inside look at where those zebra fish live here at the lab, and why they just may be the future of biomedical research.

“Compared to humans and mice, zebra fish has a shorter life span, so we can do quicker studies, and because Zebra fish tend to be transparent right in the eyes, we can look right into the arteries,” said Takemon.

Since the INBRE program began in 2001, it’s brought in more than $100 million in federal funds right here to Maine.