Biomedical Science and MDI Bio Lab in the Spotlight
- April 15, 2023
MDI Bio Lab President Hermann Haller, M.D., (left) joined two other biomedical luminaries for a wide-ranging discussion of the state of the sector and its future in Maine. To his right are the Roux Institute’s Raimond Winslow, Ph.D., and Andrea Tilden, Ph.D, Special Assistant to Colby College’s Provost for Student STEM Programming. MDI Bio Lab’s Communications Officer, Fred Bever, far right, moderated the panel.
That same week, Dr. Haller appeared on Maine Public Radio’s Maine Calling for a wide-ranging discussion of biomedical research and its role in Maine’s scientific community and economy.
Stone Coast Fund Services graciously provided the venue at its downtown Portland headquarters.
Research and training partnerships, shared resources and joint grant applications were all part of the lively hour of conversation. The three institutional leaders imagined a future for biomedical collaboration and achievement in Maine that not only will advance human health but also put the state on par with leading centers of innovation around the world.
They highlighted the benefits of coordinated investments in game-changing biotech tools and training, such as bioinformatics, computational medicine and artificial intelligence. Sadie Kuhn, a recent Colby College graduate who now works at MDI Bio Lab’s commercial subsidiary, MDI Bioscience, told the gathering that while Maine may not offer the intense urban experience that some young achievers seek out, institutions should not underestimate the magnetism of the state’s natural beauties, which more than compensate for budding scientists who, like her, love the outdoors.
Momentum is building right now, as the panel noted, with partnerships emerging to seek many tens of millions of dollars in new awards from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. The sector can draw on a deep bench of intellectual and training capacity in this state that ranges from Bar Harbor’s MDI Bio Lab and Jackson Laboratory to the University of Maine system, the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, the Roux Institute, the University of New England and many more.
The audience included leaders from some of these allied institutions, including Anne Breggia, Ph.D., the Director of the Center for Applied Science and Technology at the MaineHealth Institute for Research. “It’s as if there all these pieces of a Ferrari scattered on the ground,” she said (quoting a colleague). “All we have to do is put them together.”
The next day, a contingent of MHIR scientists drove up the coast to Mt. Desert Island, for a day of intellectual exchange with investigators at MDI Bio Lab.
And the day after that, Dr. Haller appeared on Maine Public Radio’s statewide radio forum, Maine Calling, on April 13th. Hosted by Jennifer Rooks, the panel also included Clarissa Henry, Ph.D., a molecular biologist at U Maine, and Aileen Huang-Saad, Ph.D., director of Life sciences and engineering at the Roux Institute.
They energetically tackled numerous topics, from explanations of biomedical basics and biotech tools, to successful joint efforts to win major federal funding for research, and the sector’s growing role in Maine’s economy. And two MDI Bio Lab alumni called in as well, to reminisce about summers working at the Lab!