Why is The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine?

In the early 1900s Clarence Cook Little, a young Harvard student, was studying with some of the nation’s first mammalian geneticists. Dr. Little became president of the University of Maine, and used to bring students to Mount Desert Island for biology field studies. Later he was recruited to become president of the University of Michigan.

Throughout his academic career Little socialized with the wealthy automobile barons of the day, many of whom lived in Detroit and summered in Bar Harbor. And it was Edsel Ford and Roscoe B. Jackson, head of the Hudson Motorcar Company, who helped Little to set up his laboratory in Bar Harbor in 1929. The Laboratory’s campus is on land originally donated by George Dorr, a Little family friend and the philanthropist who organized the gifts of land that established Acadia National Park.

In the eight decades since The Jackson Laboratory was founded, the Maine location has had many advantages. Before the advent of air conditioning, the cool coastal climate was ideal for maintaining mouse colonies—mice breed poorly in hot weather. And its distance from large urban centers fostered a close-knit, highly collaborative institutional culture that continues to this day. Today, the Laboratory recruits top scientists from around the world who are attracted to Maine’s quality of life as well as the Laboratory’s scientific prominence.

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