JAX Genomic Medicine on target in Connecticut
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine is achieving promised milestones for job creation, facilities planning and collaboration with researchers and health care providers. Demolition work at the construction site began October 17, capping a ceremony with Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Jackson and UConn officials.
In a recent progress report to Connecticut legislators, Dr. Edison Liu, president and CEO of the Laboratory, told lawmakers that the project is on track and building momentum.
“We will make good on our promises, and you will be proud of your investment,” Liu said.
The new institute will bring together genomic researchers and clinical providers to advance scientific understanding of human disease and develop precision medicine for better patient care.
Groundbreaking, hiring goals in sight
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine will be located on a 17-acre parcel at the UConn Health Center in Farmington. UCHC will remove existing buildings and utilities from the site beginning in October, and groundbreaking is scheduled for January 2013.
The four-level facility of about 183,500 square feet will include traditional laboratory and computational biology areas, scientific support services, and shared spaces for scientists working in collaboration with colleagues from UCHC and other research organizations. Low-impact and energy-efficient, The JAX Genomic Medicine facility is being designed to achieve LEED Gold designation or higher. The new facility will be ready for occupancy in late 2014.
The Laboratory is working with firms based in Connecticut and New England for architecture and engineering design, project management and construction management on the project. Bidding for individual contracts will begin in early October.
With a goal of hiring 27 new employees by the end of this year, JAX Genomic Medicine already has hired 21 individuals and is in contract discussions with seven more. Of the 21 already hired, 17 are scientific personnel and four comprise the research center’s administrative team. Recruitment of scientific and administrative staff is ongoing.
Jackson collaborates with hospitals for better care, lower costs
This summer, the UConn Health Center and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford joined The Jackson Laboratory’s Human Tumor Consortium. Other hospitals in the region also are on track to join the project. The Human Tumor Consortium currently collects tumors from about 20 participating cancer centers throughout the United States, implants and grows the tissues in mouse hosts, and distributes the mice for cancer research.
In addition, a new project promises to help doctors customize the care of individual cancer patients being treated at Connecticut hospitals. By using patient-surrogate or "avatar" mice to test a tumor's response to a specific drug, researchers and clinicians hope to arrive at more effective and less costly strategies for treating cancer patients based on the unique genetic makeup of individual patients and their tumors.
Scientific symposium unites Jackson, UConn researchers
About 50 scientists and other professional staff from The Jackson Laboratory recently traveled from Bar Harbor, Farmington and Sacramento to the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs for the first joint scientific symposium between the two organizations. Sixteen Jackson researchers and 27 researchers from UConn and the UConn Health Center delivered back-to-back, 10-minute research presentations during the two-day event, which drew about 350 attendees.
The presentations were followed by small-group sessions to lay the foundation of a new institute for systems genomics at UConn. The institute initially will develop a graduate-level program in genomics across the curriculum, but eventually could expand to include undergraduate programming as well. Developed in conjunction with the state's Bioscience Connecticut initiatives at UConn and the UConn Health Center, the new UConn institute is supported by academic disciplines including medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, education, engineering, agriculture, and liberal arts and sciences as well as by The Jackson Laboratory's commitment to advancing genomic research and medicine in Connecticut.