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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 1,500 employees in Bar Harbor, Maine, Sacramento, Calif. and a new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn., the Laboratory's mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.  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 7,000 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
Jackson Laboratory research, represented by the activities of more than 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
- 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: Alzheimer's disease, cerebellar disorders, deafness, epilepsy, glaucoma, neurodegenerative diseases
Historic research highlights
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.
- Established that cancer is a genetic disorder, a novel concept before the Laboratory’s founding in 1929.
- Dr. Leroy Stevens first described cells that can develop into different tissues – today known as stem cells.
- Dr. Elizabeth Russell performed the first bone marrow transplants in a mammal, leading to new treatments for blood and immunological diseases.
- Dr. George Snell won the Nobel Prize in 1980 for providing an in-depth understanding of the immune system’s major histocompatibility complex, making organ transplants possible.
- Dr. Douglas Coleman discovered the hormone leptin, central to obesity and diabetes research, earning him the Shaw Prize, the Albert Lasker Award, the Gairdner International Award, Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine, and the King Faisal International Prize in Medicine.
- Is pioneering the use of cancer avatars – mice with implanted human tumors – to test targeted therapies for cancer patients.
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.
- Hosts the Mouse Genome Informatics database, the world’s source for information on mouse genetics and biology.
- Distributes more than 3 million JAX® mice annually to more than 20,000 investigators in at least 50 countries for research and drug discovery.
- Offers more than 7,000 genetically defined strains of JAX® mice to the international research community.
- Provides animal husbandry, reproductive science and in vivo drug efficacy services in a wide range of therapeutic areas for biomedical researchers.
- Conducts over 100 educational seminars and webinars yearly to educate and enable external biomedical researchers.
- Summer Student Program has brought thousands of talented high school and college students to campus over 89 years for mentoring, including three who later won Nobel Prizes: David Baltimore, Howard Temin and Jack Szostak.
- Nearly 700 students, researchers and physicians attend Laboratory courses, conferences and workshops annually.
- Participates in three collaborative degree programs: the Tufts University Ph.D. program in Genetics, the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences of the University of Maine, and the Master’s of Science in Teaching program of the University of Maine.
- Offers predoctoral and postdoctoral training programs and a visiting scientists program.
- Coordinates and hosts the Maine State Science Fair for high school students.
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.
- "About The Jackson Laboratory". Jackson Laboratory. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- "The Jackson Laboratory Milestones: 1900 - 1929". The Jackson Laboratory Timeline. Jackson Laboratory. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
- 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.