MDI Biological Laboratory
Press Release

NIH Awards $11.3 million for UMaine/MDI Bio Lab Research Partnership

More than $1 million is for work in the laboratory of MDI Bio Lab’s Romain Madelaine, Ph.D., to research muscle regeneration

The National Institutes of Health is awarding a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) award to support interdisciplinary biomedical research at UMaine and MDI Biological Laboratory.

Madelaine says the award will support his team’s work to better understand biological processes that underly muscle tissue’s regenerative capacity, and how impairment at the genetic, molecular and cellular levels contributes to muscle aging and degeneration.

“My lab studies the mechanisms of cellular regeneration using zebrafish as a model organism,” he says. “We hope that our discoveries will identify therapeutic targets to reduce the negative impact of muscle atrophy in humans and improve our quality of life as we age.”

The COBRE award will focus on biomedical research in a total of five labs led by early-career investigators; in addition to Madelaine, the four University faculty receiving support include Ben King, a genomics expert and former senior staff scientist at MDI Bio Lab.

The federal COBRE program is part of a Congressionally mandated effort to build research capacity in rural states that historically weren’t targeted for federal funding.

An earlier COBRE award to MDI Bio Lab has been critical to its recent growth and scientific advancement over the last decade. A related program funds the Laboratory’s leadership of the Maine INBRE, a statewide network for shared scientific infrastructure that provides research experiences for Maine scientists of all levels.

MDI Bio Lab President Herman Haller says the new award marks an important milestone in the Laboratory’s long history of partnership with UMaine.

“The MDI Biological Laboratory is very pleased to collaborate on this Maine-based research initiative,” he says. “Romain Madelaine’s work on the cellular mechanisms of muscle regeneration holds great promise for improving the way we age. The COBRE award will accelerate his discoveries and more by University faculty and students.”

The new COBRE award was led by Clarissa Henry, professor of biological sciences in the School of Biology and Ecology and director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering at UMaine.

“This award will transform the landscape of biomedical research at the University of Maine and foster innovation in the life sciences state-wide,” she says.

The funding will also support the development of a new generation of biomedical researchers through the University’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. The MDI Bio Lab frequently hosts participants in that program for extended doctoral work.

COBRE and INBRE are both administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, under its Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program.

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