Groundbreaking ceremony for The Jackson Laboratory’s new facility in Ellsworth, Maine

The Jackson Laboratory celebrated the groundbreaking for its new, state-of-the-art vivarium, a 134,900-square-foot facility to maintain research mouse models, at the institution’s Ellsworth, Maine, location on August 2.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Congressman Bruce Poliquin, LePage administration Senior Policy Advisor John Butera and Ellsworth Mayor Robert Crosthwaite were on hand to launch the new facility, which is the first step in the Laboratory’s long-range plan to gradually migrate mouse production (except for the research mice used by JAX scientists) from Bar Harbor to Ellsworth, freeing up space in Bar Harbor to expand research and education programs.

Chuck Hewett, JAX executive vice president and COO, noted that the institution’s Maine-based mouse production operation is on an international scale. “Last year, The Jackson Laboratory provided mice and services to 23,527 research labs in 52 countries. Most important, JAX mice have enabled breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, ALS, SMA & SMARD, cardiology, diabetes, glaucoma, and many more diseases and conditions.”

To date, the Ellsworth project has been supported by a $1.74 million Pilot Grant from the Maine Technology Institute and a $1.82 million Structural Improvement Grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The Laboratory will contribute $71.44 million to phase 1 of the project, which is scheduled for completion at the end of 2017 and will employ 230 people. According to Hewett, the Laboratory hopes to proceed quickly to phase 2, a $65 million project that will capitalize on the infrastructure of phase 1 and increase the total capacity of the facility by a factor of four; however, it will need state, federal, and private financial assistance to achieve this end.