Over the next two years, a 189,000-square-foot research building representing a historic partnership between the state, the University of Connecticut, and The Jackson Laboratory will rise from the ground where some of the UConn Health Center’s founding buildings once stood.
“I want to welcome The Jackson Laboratory to Connecticut, and I want them to fully appreciate that they are the springboard in so many ways to what we anticipate the next 10, 20, and 30 years will be about in the state of Connecticut,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at a ceremony today to mark the groundbreaking for The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. “This is an important day in the history of the state of Connecticut.”
It was Malloy’s Bioscience Connecticut initiative, unveiled May 2011 and approved by the legislature the following month, that spawned the partnership with Jackson Laboratory, an independent nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Habor, Maine.
“This is what you have done, the governor, the legislature, to motivate us not to be satisfied with ‘what is,’ because ‘what is’ – in cancer, in heart disease, in stroke – is not good enough,” said Dr. Frank Torti, the UConn Health Center’s executive vice president for health affairs and medical school dean. “We will change the future of medicine because of you.”
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine will support research collaborations aiming to uncover genomic causes of human diseases and shape new approaches in personalized medicine to prevent, detect, and treat them.
“In the years ahead, as new cures and new treatments are developed here in Farmington with JAX, our work will be more profound and powerful than we can even describe today,” said UConn President Susan Herbst.
More than 200 people, many of them Jackson researchers making the trip from Bar Harbor, attended the groundbreaking, the centerpiece of a daylong celebration that included an open house at Jackson’s leased space on the first floor of the Administrative Services Building, an academic seminar by genomicist Charles Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and a networking reception.
“We are honored and humbled by the faith and trust that you have shown to The Jackson Laboratory,” said Jackson President and CEO Edison Liu. “We will link arms with you, we will work hard for you, and in the end we will make you very proud, Connecticut.”
The first two dozen new Jackson employees already are working in the temporary UConn Health Center campus space, including four principal investigators and members of their laboratory teams, and a small administrative group. The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine intends to employ 300 biomedical researchers, technicians, and support staff by 2020.
The governor also used his remarks to announce the Bioscience Innovation Act, his proposal to establish a $200 million fund to make additional investment in the bioscience sector over the next decade.
“We need to do substantially more in the coming years if we are to maximize the potential of the investments that we celebrate today,” Malloy said. “This will strengthen collaboration among our institutions and increase our capacity to innovate, and create the investment tools necessary to attract businesses and grow additional good jobs.”