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The Jackson Laboratory was founded in 1929 in Bar Harbor, Maine, by former University of Maine and University of Michigan president C. C. Little under the name Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory.
The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution, dedicated to contributing to a future of better health care based on the unique genetic makeup of each individual. With more than 1,400 employees in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Sacramento, California, the Laboratory's mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community. The institution is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and has NIH centers of excellence in aging and systems genetics. The Laboratory is also the world's source for more than 5,000 strains of genetically defined mice, is home of the mouse genome database and is an international hub for scientific courses, conferences, training and education.
Major research areas
The lab's research, represented by the activities of some 35-40 laboratories, is largely sponsored by NIH grants and is focused in six major areas:
- Bioinformatics: mouse genome informatics, comparative genomics;
- Cancers: bone, brain, leukemia, liver, lymphoma, mammary;
- Development and Aging-Related: birth defects, Down syndrome, osteoporosis, lifespan;
- Immune System and Blood Disorders: AIDS, anemia, autoimmunity, immune system disorders, tissue transplant rejection, lupus;
- Metabolic Diseases: atherosclerosis, diabetes, gallstones, hypertension, obesity, kidney disease;
- Neurological and Sensory Disorders: blindness, cerebellar disorders, deafness, epilepsy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, neurodegenerative diseases.
Historic research highlights
- The first evidence that viruses can cause cancer;
- The discovery of the existence and nature of stem cells;
- The first successful mammalian bone marrow transplantation to cure a blood disorder;
- Shaw Prize-winning research that led to the discovery of leptin, a key factor in metabolism, weight maintenance and obesity.
Some 22 Nobel prizes have been associated with Jackson Laboratory research, mouse models, educational programs or the genetic principles set out by founder Clarence Cook Little. The 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was won by George Davis Snell for his work in elucidating the immune system, work that paved the way to organ transplantation.
Recent research has provided insight into cancer stem cells and treatments for leukemia; progress with type 1 diabetes and lupus; and a breakthrough in extending mammalian life span.
The Morrell Park fire
On May 10, 1989, a flash fire destroyed the Morrell Park mouse production facility. The fire raged for five hours, requiring over 100 firefighters from 15 companies and a total of 16 trucks for the fire to be contained. Four workers of the Colwell Construction Company who were installing fiberglass wallboard in the room where the fire broke out were injured, one with burns over 15 percent of his body. While none of the foundation strains were lost, 300,000 production mice (about 50% of their stock) died, resulting in a national shortage of laboratory mice and the layoff of 60 employees.
This was the second fire to severely affect the laboratory; the 1947 fire that burned most of the island destroyed most of the laboratory, and its mice. Worldwide donations of funds and mice allowed the lab to resume operations in 1948.
- "The Jackson Laboratory Milestones: 1900 - 1929". The Jackson Laboratory Timeline. Jackson Laboratory. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
- "About The Jackson Laboratory". Jackson Laboratory. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- Harbour, Kathy (August 21, 1989). "Probable causes given for Jackson Lab fire". Bangor Daily News (Hancock County ed.). p. 8. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- Mathewson, Judy (June 26, 1989). "Debris Cleared, Jackson Begins Recovery From Fire". The Scientist. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
- "The Jackson Laboratory Milestones: 1940 - 1949". The Jackson Laboratory Timeline. Jackson Laboratory. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2006-12-13.