Scarborough medical research center wins $20M grant

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SCARBOROUGH — A $20 million grant will create about 20 jobs and save about 40 others while advancing medical research.

More money could be on the way, too.

Maine Medical Center Research Institute and partnering institutions were awarded the five-year, $20 million research grant July 10 to establish the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network. The award is from the National Institutes of Health’s Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence.

The research institute is partnering with the University of Southern Maine and the University of Vermont, and collaborating with researchers at Boston-based Tufts University School of Medicine and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University in Hanover, New Hampshire.

The award will be used to support the development and implementation of innovative medical treatments for chronic diseases and illnesses like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and substance abuse. The research will also have a strong focus on prevention and health-care delivery in rural areas.

Dr. Donald L. St. Germain, vice president of research, on July 21 said the grant is the largest the institute has received. He said the institute has already started the hiring process and hopes to have some new positions filled by the end of the summer.

St. Germain said the institute is waiting to hear about another grant it has applied for that would bring more jobs to Scarborough, but declined to provide specifics until the grant is approved. 

The  mission statement of the research institute at 81 Research Drive, which employs 180 people, is “to improve the health of people in Northern New England by fostering and coordinating clinical translational and educational research activities.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, visited two labs at the center and later praised the award in a press conference.

“I have to say nothing makes me prouder than to see the work being done in the great state of Maine at the Maine Medical Research Institute,” Collins said.”It is so exciting that your work is going to make a difference for people in our state. It gives hope to those who are challenged by chronic diseases.” 

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks to Sarah McCarthy, a pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Maine Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough on Friday, July 21.