Kevin Strange says he almost turned around before crossing the Trenton Bridge — a natural divide between Down East Maine’s more populous areas and the solitary outpost of Bar Harbor — for a job interview. But the man who would become the first full-time director of the MDI Biological Laboratory drove on, saying he sensed a lot of potential to do novel biomedical science at the small lab.
In 2009, he left behind a position as full professor and anesthesiology chair at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to take over MDIBL. He is now rebuilding the lab into a center for regenerative biology, a hot scientific discipline that might one day be applied to essentially self-heal hearts and other wounded tissues.
Indeed, in mid-February the 115-year-old lab spun off its first company, Novo Biosciences Inc., which will develop an experimental compound taken from dogfish sharks that potentially could heal wounds. Strange is CEO of the new company, which will be based at MDIBL in Salisbury Cove. Researcher Voot Yin is chief scientific officer.
“When I came here, I saw the beginnings of a core infrastructure. What appealed to me was the diversity of animal models being used to address biological questions,” says the salt-and-pepper-bearded Strange. Leaning forward, he emphasizes his plans for the lab, which he described as “very primitive” in 1994 when he studied there for a summer. “I geared the lab toward regenerative biology as I looked at what made sense, given our history, and what made us unique.”