Mouse Lab Getting Personal, Sniffs Florida Digs

Jocelyn is a staff writer for Science magazine.

The Jackson Laboratory, the mouse-research powerhouse in Bar Harbor, Maine, is thinking about building a branch in south Florida as part of a move into personalized medicine.

The nonprofit Jax is best known for basic genetics research and its resource of more than 4000 strains of mice. As DNA sequencing costs have dropped, the lab now wants to bridge mouse and human studies and "play a pioneering role in the science that will accelerate personalized medicine," says Jax CEO Richard Woychik. Another motivator is Florida's success at using financial incentives to lure major biomedical research centers, such as California's Scripps Research Institute, to establish outposts in the state. Jax spokesperson Barry Teater says the lab is "in discussions" with state and Collier County officials about a possible site near Naples in southwest Florida, where Jax's fundraising council has "a very active" chapter.

Although there is no major research university near Naples, Teater says that "near is relative" and that Jax is talking to universities and hospitals across Florida about potential collaborations that would give its researchers access to patients. The $100-million-a-year institute would have 200 employees and open by the end of 2013. Discussions are ongoing, Teater says; he expects a "go or no-go" decision by next summer.

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