MDI Biological Laboratory
Biotechnology

Senator Collins Supports $1.6 million for MDI Bioscience in Appropriations Bill

  • August 16, 2023

If enacted by Congress, the measure will support new campus infrastructure for drug discovery 

On the same late-July day that stakeholders gathered in Salisbury Cove for the MDI Bio Lab’s annual meeting, U.S. Senator Susan Collins was working on Capitol Hill to advance significant new funds for MDI Bioscience, MDI Bio Lab’s subsidiary for drug discovery and toxin screening.

Collins is vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she submitted and won unanimous support for including in the overall spending bill a “Congressionally-Directed Spending” allotment of $1,607,000 for the project.

“The scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory are conducting impressive research to improve efficiency in drug discovery, helping to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” Senator Collins said in a press release. “This funding would help to improve and expand the research capabilities at MDI, supporting their important work to improve human health.”  

This funding would support the construction of an additional campus space and purchase related lab equipment to expand MDI Bioscience’s capacity for the development of emerging drug discovery technologies. MDI Bioscience Director James Strickland says the new space would house high-throughput screening systems that depend on exceptional models for human health developed by MDI Bio Lab faculty, such as C. elegans roundworms, zebrafish and human cell-derived organoids. 

The measure’s initial success was welcome news for Hermann Haller, M.D., MDI Bio Lab’s President.  

“These advanced biotechnologies hold game-changing potential for identifying beneficial medicines and weeding out those with unwanted side-effects, early in the drug development pipeline,” he said. “That will avert late-stage failures that drive up the cost of pharmaceuticals for everyone.” 

“We are grateful for Senator Collins’ unwavering commitment to biomedical research, education, and development,” Haller added. “It will ensure that the U.S. and our state remain at the forefront of a revolution in biotechnology and medicine, and it will save lives.”

The funding language advanced through the Appropriations Committee’s markup of the FY24 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill—an important step that now allows the bill to be considered by the full Senate. Last year, Congress provided $600,000 for MDI Bioscience in another measure pushed by Senator Collins, with support from Maine’s entire Congressional delegation.