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Research at Jackson Labs Has Helped Millions

 Countless people around the world who have received transplanted organs or bone marrow are alive today because of research done at the Jackson Laboratory. The research institution, based in Bar Harbor Maine, is looking to build an additional facility in Ave Maria if funding can be secured. (See Naples Daily News story here)

Mike Hyde, the lab's senior vice president for research, said in an interview that the main work at the Florida facility would be DNA research geared toward curing cancer and other diseases.

The Jackson Lab is devoted to using mouse models as its research tools, Mr. Hyde said, adding the institution conducts no research whatsoever using human embryonic stem cells, and never has. [UPDATE: Subsequent to this statement by Mr. Hyde, The Jackson Lab has said that it some of its educational work in Maine deals with human embryonic stem cells and some of those services, as indicated on the Jackson Labs' website, involves demonstrating the propogation of human embryonic stem cells (click here  for story and statement by the Jackson Laboratory).

Using mouse models, Mr. Hyde said, the Jackson labs performed the world's first bone marrow transplant in the 1960s. That work led to the development of the capability to transplant bone marrow in humans.

In the 1970s, George Snell, a Jackson researcher, worked out how bodies recognize foreign matter, which paved the way for the development of drugs that suppress immune response and make organ transplants possible. "The capability to transplant organs in humans existed well before then, but it wasn't feasible because bodies would reject the new organ," Mr. Hyde said. Mr. Snell was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work, one of 24 Nobel Prizes that Mr. Hyde said are directly related to the work of the Jackson Labs.

The organization was founded in 1929 primarily to do cancer research. It is a non-profit institution with a budget of about $170 million a year, more than half of which comes from the sale of mice with specific genetic lines to laboratories around the world.

Mr. Hyde said, there would be no other research animals at the new facility other than possibly a very small number of mice.

The Ave Maria lab would be the third location for Jackson Laboratories. Its headquarters in Maine employs about 1,300 and another 150 work in Sacramento, CA. Although "a handful" of people might transfer from Maine, Mr. Hyde said, the rest of the staff would be hired specifically for the Florida facility. In addition to staff positions, the company intends to offer internships for high school and college students as well as research opportunities for teachers and other scientists.

The building would be part of a research park that would be built on Oil Well Rd. on land that will be on the shores of a lake that is being created as fill is dug for the Oil Well Rd. widening project, according to Blake Gable, President of Barron Collier's Real Estate division. The project is entirely the responsibility of the Barron Collier Companies, Mr. Gable said, and has no relationship with either the university or Ave Maria Development.

More information on the Jackson Laboratories plans for Florida can be found here at their website.


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