$1.1 Billion investment coming to Connecticut genomic research community

According to theday.com, a package that promises huge economic development and jobs growth in the state of Connecticut, passed both chambers of the General Assembly Wednesday night with nearly unanimous bipartisan support.

As reported last month, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and state economic development leaders had invited The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) to launch a new center for personalized medicine and systems genomics in Connecticut.

The research center, to be called The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, will accelerate the development of new medical treatments tailored to each patient’s unique genetic makeup. Plans call for the center to employ 300 people within the first 10 years, and 600 employees within 20 years.

The State will provide a total of $291 million in support to JAX Genomic Medicine over 10 years for construction, equipment and operations. The total 20-year capital and research budget for the institute is projected to be $1.1 billion, with Jackson providing $809 million through federal research grants, philanthropy and service income.

“By investing in a smart, strategic project like Bioscience Connecticut, the state sent a loud and clear message around the world to companies and research institutes like The Jackson Laboratory that we are ready, willing and able to be a partner in this up-and-coming industry,” said Gov. Malloy. “We have the infrastructure, the talent and the drive to make Connecticut a leader in this emerging science, and I’m pleased to welcome The Jackson Laboratory to our state.”

JAX Genomic Medicine will integrate Jackson’s strengths in genetics and genomic technologies with the clinical and biological strengths of Connecticut institutions including Yale University and the University of Connecticut. Special clinical areas of focus could include cancer, aging, neuropsychiatry, stem cell and reproductive biology, metabolic diseases, and genetic disorders.

JAX Genomic Medicine will be housed in a 173,500-square-foot building to be erected near the campus of the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. It would engage 30 senior scientists known as principal investigators who each would head a laboratory research group, supported by services and administrative departments. The center will also dedicate space and staff for translating newly developed research applications into commercial products and services for the medical and scientific community, such as computational services, diagnostic products or drug screening.

JAX will assist the UConn Health Center in its next phase of faculty growth and to advise the state’s economic development agencies in identifying the best industrial and biotech partners for commercializing new developments in personalized medicine.

Liu emphasizes that the new Connecticut project would provide many benefits for the Laboratory’s Bar Harbor campus. “Developing this new institute in Connecticut would raise the already considerable prestige of The Jackson Laboratory as the world leader in mammalian genetics,” he says. “It would also bring us into the forefront of personalized medicine.”

The JAX Genomic Medicine facility will use computational methods to identify new potential treatments that would then be tested in Bar Harbor. “The faster pace of medical discovery would drive both research funding and laboratory mouse sales, thus creating more jobs here in Maine,” Liu says. He notes that since establishing a JAX facility in California in 2000, the institution has added more than 300 jobs on the Bar Harbor campus as well as 125 in Sacramento.

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