FARMINGTON, CT - Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Monday announced that The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) has met and exceeded last year’s business goals and employment targets outlined in connection with the Governor’s Bioscience Connecticut initiative, including hiring 20 percent more scientific and administrative staff than was required for 2013. According to its 2013 annual report, the JAX Genomic Medicine project in Farmington is on schedule and on budget two years after a final deal was reached between the state and JAX to build a new nonprofit research institute focused on advancing genomics and biomedical research with partners from the state and around the world.
“This report highlights the successful collaboration between the state and a world-renowned research institute, while reinforcing our efforts to recruit the best and brightest minds into our workforce, attract new business investment to foster a prominent industry cluster and boost our status as an international leader in bioscience and personalized medicine,” said Governor Malloy. “The report also demonstrates that the investments we have made over the last two years to stake a claim in the global biomedical market are already paying-off. Since introducing Bioscience Connecticut, we took the steps necessary to get the ball rolling on this fledging initiative and are gaining momentum on our way to becoming a major player in a growing, multibillion dollar industry. Judging by the groundbreaking research that is already being done by JAX Genomic Medicine and the speed at which this project is progressing, I know that JAX is as serious about Bioscience Connecticut as we are - we couldn’t ask for a better partner.”
When negotiating its deal with the state, JAX agreed to employ at least 300 biomedical researchers, technicians and support staff by 2020, of which 90 employees or 30 percent of the total number of employees - whichever is higher - will be senior scientist positions. JAX reported that it has met and exceeded all of the goals set for its 2013 Operating Metrics, including:
· Number of employees employed in the preceding year - Recruitment and hiring are ongoing, but at the end of last year, JAX exceeded its hiring target of 63 total employees for 2013 with 79 employees on the payroll, more than 30 percent of whom were residents of Connecticut prior to their employment.
· Number of senior scientists employed in the preceding year – In 2013, JAX had 48 Ph.D.-level senior scientists on staff, which was 60 percent more than last year’s hiring target of 19 senior scientists.
· Compliance with the Average Annual Wage Obligation in the preceding year - With an average annual wage of $124,703 for employees - more than one and a half times the average wage in Connecticut – JAX exceeded its commitment to pay employees wages equal to 125 percent of the state’s average wage.
Construction of the new four-story, LEED-certified JAX Genomic Medicine facility on the campus of UConn’s Health Center began in January 2013 and will be ready for occupancy by October 2014. As of December 31, 2013:
· Nearly $64 million in contracts were completed on the $135 million facility, representing 47 percent of the total construction budget.
· More than $94 million out of $108 million in contracts - 87 percent of total bid packages – has been awarded to Connecticut-based contractors who are using hundreds of local workers.
· Construction of the facility, which is under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), logged more than 250,000 staff hours without a time-lost accident and employed about 270-300 construction workers daily on the job site.
· The JAX project PLA also includes a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA) provision that specifically focuses on increased participation of small and minority-owned contractors, with nearly $30 million worth of contracts awarded to these designated groups.
· To date, the project has met or exceeded its target of awarding 25 percent of contract value to Small Business Enterprise (SBE) firms and 6.35 percent to Minority Business Enterprise firms, achieving 25.8 percent and 18.5 percent of contract value respectively.
While the new JAX Genomic Medicine facility is under construction, the Connecticut scientific staff is now operating in temporary lab space focusing on advanced research that will transform the field of personalized medicine by developing new medical treatments tailored to each patient’s unique genetic makeup. In 2013, JAX Genomic Medicine’s main activities included fundamental research in the areas of genomic structure and variation, biology of the genome and computational biology, translational research in cancer biology and cancer treatment options and clinical translation using the most advanced genomic technologies for developing new diagnostics. Some of the highlights resulting from these activities include:
· In 2013, the first full year of operations, JAX Genomic Medicine received five grant awards from the federal government worth a total of nearly $3.2 million. In addition, JAX Genomic Medicine’s scientific director, Dr. Charles Lee, was also awarded a $7.5 million, five-year (2013-2017) grant from the government of South Korea to collaborate on a large-scale cancer genomics project.
· Last year, scientists at JAX Genomic Medicine submitted three patent applications based on innovations in stem cell technology, treatments of inflammatory disease and DNA analysis.
· Key scientific journals published four seminal articles arising from research conducted by the Genomic Medicine faculty in 2013.
· Three Jackson Laboratory researchers made the list of the nation’s most promising young investigators in genomics research in a survey presented by GenomeWeb, an influential publication in the field.
· JAX Genomic Medicine’s Postdoctoral Program currently hosts 17 postdoctoral fellows, three of whom were recently nominated for the 2014 Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists.
Scientists at JAX Genomic Medicine are building collaborations among doctors, researchers and the biomedical industry to bring genomic findings into the clinical setting, advance scientific understanding of human disease and develop precision medicine for better patient care. Last year, JAX reached and maintained collaborative agreements with several clinical and academic entities in Connecticut:
· In April 2013, JAX entered into a Collaborative Research Agreement with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and is also in the process of finalizing a Collaborative Research Agreement with Hartford Hospital to explore new approaches to cancer treatment for adults and children.
· Last fall, JAX Genomic Medicine received important state and federal licensing and approval to accept and process clinical samples of human cells and tissues for DNA testing, paving the way for clinical collaborations with other health facilities.
· As a pilot project, JAX Genomic Medicine offered a Summer Student Program in 2013 that included Connecticut high school students and plans to expand the pilot program in 2014.
· In addition to the 2012 Collaborative Research Agreement established with UConn and the UConn Health Center, JAX Genomic Medicine is in active discussions with other institutions of higher education including Wesleyan University and Connecticut College to co-develop seminars, lecture series and genomics courses.
· JAX has met with local insurance companies, including Aetna Innovation Labs and Woman’s Health USA, to discuss ways to apply genomic technologies to improve health care outcomes and clinical decision-making.
JAX’s decision to select the UConn Health Center Campus for the site of its new genomic medicine research facility was a direct result of the state’s investment in Bioscience Connecticut. In 2011, Governor Malloy introduced Bioscience Connecticut to jumpstart Connecticut’s economy by creating hundreds of immediate construction-related jobs and combining the resources of government, the private sector and research institutions and universities to advance cutting-edge biomedical innovation in the state. The State Bond Commission, which Governor Malloy chairs, authorized $291 million in state funding for the construction of the new Genomic Medicine facility in order to generate good-paying scientific, research and administrative jobs for residents and long-term, sustainable economic growth based on bioscience research, innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization.
A Battelle Memorial Institute study reports that, in 2012 alone, human genome sequencing projects and related research and industry activities generated $65 billion in U.S. economic output, $31 billion toward the 2012 U.S. gross domestic product, $19 billion in personal income and 152,000 jobs.