BAR HARBOR (AP) – The Jackson Laboratory has opened a $21.7 million science facility as part of a five-year expansion which is expected to be completed in early 2006.

“This is a great day for the lab, for Maine and for biomedical research,” said Rick Woychik, laboratory director, who described the new Functional Genomics Building as “one of the world’s most technological research labs.”

Woychik told a gathering Friday that the laboratory, which is marking its 75th anniversary, has been blessed with steady and strong support from government, the medical research community and the public.

Maine voters last year approved a $60 million bond issue for biomedical research, and about $6 million of the bond proceeds were used to complete the lab’s new facility.

The four-story building will accommodate two scientists and their support teams, space for the mice that will be used in the medical research, and support services and laboratories.

Under construction as part of the lab’s expansion program is the $29 million East Research Building.

Woychik said the lab was unable to spend $10 million in research grants last year because it lacked sufficient space to do the work.

The lab was founded in 1929 by Clarence Cook Little, who was convinced there was a genetic link to cancer and other major diseases and began using mice for his research.

State Sen. Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, who helped open the new facility, recalled how modest the lab was when he was a boy growing up on Mount Desert Island. He told of how it has grown over the decades to become Hancock County’s largest employer.

The lab now employs about 1,300 people, up from 500 just a few years ago. In addition to its own research, it supplies millions of genetically defined strains of mice to other research facilities around the world.

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