PORTLAND — The Maine Center for Creativity (MCC) hosted representatives of the recently announced Maine Creative Industries Award recipients Monday to discuss the importance of creativity and its role in Maine’s economy.

Edison T. Liu, MD, president and CEO of the Jackson Laboratory, and Wendy Tardif, executive director of the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing, made a pledge to forge a new collaboration during the panel.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by such a prestigious organization (as MCC) in our home state,” said Liu, who reaffirmed that his organization plans to stay in Maine. “I’d love to use our dual award as the beginning of a relationship between the Jackson Laboratory and the cancer programs across the rest of the state, starting with the Dempsey Center,” said Liu.

“Studies show that creativity, collaboration and connections increase innovation,” commented Jean Maginnis, founder and executive director of MCC. “This new pledge between the Jackson Laboratory and the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing exemplifies the goal of MCC’s work in bringing together stakeholders to collaborate in order to build community.”

The event, held in the newly renovated Cumberland County Civic Center, marked the official kick-off of planning for the Nov. 15 gala celebration, where the second Maine Creative Industries Award will be presented to actor, cancer activist and Maine native Patrick Dempsey and the Jackson Laboratory, a leading-edge genetics research laboratory.

The award is a biennial honor that recognizes exceptional people and organizations that enrich Maine’s growing reputation as a state where innovation and creativity thrive.

“This award was established because the Maine Center for Creativity board thought it was important to honor creative industries and creative people —  people who bring jobs, who bring innovation and who evolve institutions and organizations to serve the new needs of our population,” said Maginnis.

Maginnis noted that the Jackson Laboratory, represented by Liu, and Patrick Dempsey and his Center for Cancer Hope and Healing were selected this year to honor their creative approaches to healthcare, specifically their innovative work in cancer research and cancer support.

“The creative process is a process of building community. We have to share with each other — that’s what moves the creative act from survival to community building,” said Liu, an oncologist by training and the first MD to lead the Jackson Laboratory. “The reason we’ve been called a ‘national treasure’ is because we share all that we learn and the products we create so others can effect the innovations they want.”

Tardif said, “When Patrick came forward to Central Maine Medical Center, where his mom had received cancer treatment, he and CMMC’s CEO, Peter Chalke, really pulled the creativity and the innovation piece together, and in that process [found] a really unique way to make it happen — a hospital working with Patrick to put a program together that is available to anyone, no matter where they get their cancer treatment. That model was established right from the beginning.”

Born in Lewiston and raised in Buckfield and Turner, Dempsey is best known for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd on the long-running TV drama “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dempsey founded the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing.

Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor is an independent, nonprofit organization with a mission to discover precise genomic solutions for cancer and other genetic diseases. Employing over 1,500 people — including about 225 PhD-level researchers — the Jackson Laboratory is world renowned for its genetics research, education and resources and is a major contributor to Maine’s innovation economy. The Jackson Laboratory is one of only 68 NCI-designated cancer centers in the U.S.

In 2012, actress Glenn Close and her husband, David Shaw, founder of IDEXX, accepted the inaugural award at the Maine Creative Industries gala. Shaw will present the 2014 award to the Jackson Laboratory in November.


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