MDI Biological Laboratory
Press Release

Maine’s Premier Life Sciences Experts Converge on Bar Harbor as the 49th Annual Biological and Medical Sciences Symposium Kicks Off

More than 170 members of Maine's life science sector are gathering in Bar Harbor, Maine, over four days to share research ideas, explore career opportunities and learn about the latest scientific research happening throughout the state. The research discussions will have significant implications for Maine people and their health. 

Hermann Haller, M.D., president of the MDI Biological Laboratory, said, “As one of Maine’s premier research institutions, we are pleased to host this event. We are working to make a difference in the lives of all Maine people by improving treatments for diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – and this is where it starts. By bringing the best scientific minds in the state together to share our work, explore new ideas and collaborate. This is how great science happens.”

Over 170 students, postdoctoral fellows, and scientists are registered to attend what is believed to be the oldest and largest gathering of life science practitioners in the state. The event features scientists from the MDI Biological Laboratory, The Jackson Laboratory, The Roux Institute, IDEXX and Maine’s academic institutions.

Constance Cepko, Ph.D., Bullard Professor of Genetics and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will deliver the keynote presentation entitled, “Gene Therapy for Promoting Vision.” Cepko is working to develop gene therapy approaches to preserve vision and prevent blindness. Dr. Cepko trained in virology with Phil Sharp at MIT and later with Richard Mulligan at the MIT Whitehead Institute.

A variety of research projects will be discussed, including two topics of particular importance to Maine – aging and cancer. Researchers will explore the genetic causes of joint disease and muscle weakness in the context of aging.  Maine has the oldest population in the country. Part of the work being discussed will also look at reducing side effects of cancer treatment. In Maine, 1 in 4 people die of cancer making it the state’s leading cause of death.  Researchers are exploring how to prevent chemotherapy induced nerve damage during cancer treatment.

The Maine Biological and Medical Sciences Symposium is funded in part by the Maine Technology Institute and by the Maine INBRE (Idea Network of Biological Research Excellence). The Maine INBRE is a statewide network of biomedical research institutions, universities, and colleges sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and led by the MDI Biological Laboratory. Members of the Maine INBRE include Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby Colleges, College of the Atlantic, Southern Maine Community College, The Jackson Laboratory, University of Maine, the Universities of Maine at Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias, and Presque Isle, University of New England and the MDI Biological Laboratory.

For more information on the symposium, visit MDIBL Conference Info.