BAR HARBOR, MAINE – More than 300 scientists, students, and research administrators from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Delaware will gather in Bar Harbor, Maine September 24–26. The meeting will highlight the success of the Institutional Development Award (IDeA), a federal research program to enhance the research capacity of states that have had historically low levels of research funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Since 2001, the IDeA program has brought more than $200 million in funding to Maine and created more than 200 new jobs at the MDI Biological Laboratory, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, University of New England, and 12 undergraduate institutions throughout the state.
“The IDeA program,” says Kevin Strange, Ph.D., president of the MDI Biological Laboratory, “has literally transformed the MDI Biological Laboratory over the last decade. We have seen a ten-fold increase in our operating budget, a six-fold increase in the number of full-time employees, and we brought more than $106 million in research funding to Maine thanks to the resources provided by the IDeA program.”
An important feature of the three-day meeting will be a science commercialization workshop entitled “From Bench to Business: What You Need to Know to Turn Discovery into Application.” This half-day session, sponsored by the Maine Technology Institute, will provide scientists and students with the tools and networks needed to help commercialize scientific discoveries.
“Enhancing the ability of scientists to compete successfully for independent research funding is an important component of the IDeA program,” said Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which oversees the IDeA program. “Our goal is to unleash the creativity and energy of investigators across the country, and provide them with the resources they need to solve important biomedical problems.”
Creating an Innovation Economy in Maine
Maine currently ranks 38th in the nation for grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health. “Another important focus of the IDeA program is to provide quality hands-on research and biotechnology training to undergraduate students,” says Patricia Hand, Ph.D., vice president for administration at the MDI Biological Laboratory and principal investigator of the Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).
INBRE is a statewide partnership between the MDI Biological Laboratory, Bates, Bowdoin and Colby Colleges, College of the Atlantic, The Jackson Laboratory, Southern Maine Community College, University of Maine, and the Universities of Maine at Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias and Presque Isle. More than 2,000 Maine students have participated in the INBRE program since 2001. Of those students who participated in INBRE, 51% are still undergraduates. Of the 49% who have graduated from college, 90% are pursuing advanced degrees or careers in science or health-related fields. Sixteen percent of those are employed full-time in Maine.
On Friday, September 25, the Maine Development Foundation will recognize the Maine INBRE program and the MDI Biological Laboratory with a Champion of Innovation award at their annual meeting in Bangor. The Champion of Innovation award honors a creative individual or organization that has championed innovative ideas and initiatives to help grow a prosperous economy.
“Not only is this an incredible program with excellent outcomes for participants,” says Yellow Breen, President and CEO of the Maine Development Foundation, “it is also an exemplar for partnership solutions that emphasize collaboration and illustrate the benefits of industry partnerships. Together, these institutions are able to provide sustainable advanced experiential learning opportunities of a caliber they would have been unable to achieve independently.”
For more information on the Maine IDeA program, visit www.maineidea.net. View a complete schedule of the Northeast Regional IDeA conference.