When Gov. Dannel Malloy, University President Susan Herbst, and The Jackson Laboratory CEO Edison Liu persuaded the state that bringing the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine to the UConn Health campus would yield dividends for bioscience in Connecticut, even they had no idea how fast that would come true. Barely two years after the facility opened, there are already 19 faculty at the Jackson Lab facility in Farmington, and the majority of them are collaborating with UConn physicians and researchers.
The governor may have sold the idea of helping JAX Genomic Medicine come to Connecticut to the legislature on the basis of jobs. But this was no marriage of chance or economic convenience. JAX has a deep knowledge of the role of genetics in diseases of mice and of humans, and wanted a more direct way to translate that into medical treatments. UConn has broad expertise in the genetics of everything from microbes to livestock, plus a hospital with patients and clinician-researchers. Together, UConn and JAX could create an ideal ecosystem of collaboration between doctors, geneticists, and computational biologists that might yield cures for human disease.
“Real, impactful science is teamwork,” says Charles Lee, director of the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington. By locating on the UConn Health campus, JAX researchers can team up with fantastic clinicians and researchers at UConn, he adds.
And UConn appreciates the partnership just as much, because of the talent JAX brings, as well as the great equipment and facilities. According to UConn vice president of research Jeff Seemann, an internationally recognized biochemist, the state-of-the-art UConn-Jackson Lab complex is the type of setting scientific researchers “dream about. It’s where any scientist could come, have a long and productive career, and die happy.”