Lack of funding shuts down Maine biotech research

What was supposed to have been a major biomedical research center in Maine when it was unveiled in 2005 is shutting down the centerpiece of its program due to lack of funding, according to the Bangor Daily News. The Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health will no longer carry out its primary purpose, which was to explore the links between exposures to arsenic, radon and other toxic materials and cancer. It just wasn't attracting the kind of money it expected to when it opened with much fanfare 6 years ago.

Institute director Erik Steele told the newspaper that it would take at least $5 million a year for 5 years to keep the program alive. A private consultant told Steel that the institute is "just too small be be competitive."

The center was paid for by taxpayer-approved bonds and a $7 million grant from the Department of Defense. It was going to partner with with Eastern Maine Medical Center, The Jackson Laboratory and the University of Maine in translational research. Now, 20 people will lose their jobs in a severe downsizing.

Steele said Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, the institute's corporate parent, will continue to support medical trials and other initiatives. "We'll be looking closely at the science of delivering health care to rural populations," he told the Bangor Daily News. "It's closer to what we do every day."

- read more in the Bangor Daily News
- see the Mass High Tech article
- Mainebiz filed this report