MDI Biological Laboratory

Engaging Life Science Innovators and Entrepreneurs

  • May 31, 2017

In March, the MDI Biological Laboratory entered a new era in its 119-year history with the opening of the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation, funded through a $3 million state bond. The new center will focus on promoting a thriving science and technology sector in Maine by facilitating innovation- and entrepreneurial-based learning and by nurturing emerging life science and technology companies.

Building on an impressive legacy

The 6,560-square-foot Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation will allow us to build on our impressive legacy in biomedical training by doubling our training capacity. We commemorated the opening with a new course for undergraduates entitled “Bridging Disciplines: Navigating Successful 21st Century Careers in Biomedical Science.”

Designed to introduce students to concepts and tools that will allow them to work across disciplinary boundaries, the course was the brainchild of University of Maine students Isaiah Mansour and Samuel Landry, both 2016 summer fellows at the laboratory.

Recognizing that learning to navigate across disciplines will be essential for their generation in terms of keeping their careers relevant in an economy that is evolving with unprecedented speed, the students proposed the creation of a new course to help provide the necessary skills for success.

“Innovation typically occurs at the interface of disciplines,” says Mansour, a marine biology major and aspiring entrepreneur. “But students who are locked into disciplinary silos lack the language and skills to work across disciplines. That’s why Sam and I sought to implement a course that provides students with the expertise to collaboratively address problems from a range of scientific perspectives.”

Modernizing Maine’s economy

In addition to providing training and resources for Maine students and entrepreneurs, the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation will play a leading role in establishing a science and technology commercialization ecosystem. It will also help attract technology-focused venture capital to Maine by providing start-up companies with state-of-the-art incubator space, scientific infrastructure and expertise, business training and access to a continually growing international R&D network.

Expanding our research capacity

Completion of the new center plays an important role in the overall growth of the MDI Biological Laboratory by freeing up space for the recruitment of two new research teams to the Kathryn W. Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine.

In 2013, we were recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for our innovative research in aging and regenerative medicine. This designation was supported by a $13 million grant that requires continued transformative growth.

Recruitment of additional faculty to the Davis center is essential for building the critical mass of scientists we need to meet our long-range strategic goals and grow Maine’s 21st-century economy through innovation in the life sciences.

A bold mission

The center’s bold mission to modernize Maine’s economy through biomedical innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization is reflected in its striking architecture. Occupying an oceanfront site overlooking Upper Frenchman Bay, the building breaks with tradition in its contemporary style, which communicates our forward-looking focus. The most distinctive design element is the abundant use of glass, which takes maximum advantage of the views while also symbolizing our connection to the natural world.

The most impressive feature of this facility by far, however, is the learning that is going on inside. The center is helping students and professionals from Maine and around the world maximize their potential, realize their career ambitions, contribute to the advancement of biomedical science and translate their ideas and discoveries into products and therapies that will benefit human health and well being.

We invite you to take advantage of the many activities we will be offering in the center, and join our quest to drive the success of Maine’s science and technology sector and to create 21st century jobs for Maine students — right here at home.

This post is excerpted from “Breaking Through,” the MDI Biological Laboratory’s biannual news magazine. Subscribe to “Breaking Through” here