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Updated: January 10, 2022 2022 Economic Forecast

2022 Forecast: A big year for Maine bioscience? The new head of JAX thinks so

Photo / Courtesy of Jackson Laboratory Lon Cardon, new president and CEO of Jackson Laboratory

The coming year could be a watershed for Maine’s bioscience industry and research organizations like the Jackson Laboratory, says its new president and CEO.

Lon Cardon, an industry veteran and longtime genetics researcher, took leadership of Bar Harbor-based JAX in November. He succeeded Dr. Edison Liu, the 2021 Mainebiz Nonprofit Business Leader of the Year, who remains at the independent, nonprofit lab as a professor.

JAX has been pioneering bioscience since 1929. In 2022, recent research may pay off in practice.

“Now is the time to fulfill the original promise of genomics and substantively improve human health,” Cardon says. “Our focus for the coming year is to use discoveries and technology to accelerate the translation of research into new diagnostics, prognostics and treatments for common and rare diseases.”

Those clinical areas include Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and more.

The lab has also been busy putting science to work in another key area – COVID-19. In 2022, JAX will continue to conduct diagnostic testing and genome sequencing of virus variants, according to Cardon.

“Even if testing declines, JAX’s ongoing COVID-19 research will continue and expand, providing important answers about the mechanisms of this ever-evolving virus,” he says.

The work will also catalyze that by other members of the state’s bioscience community, Cardon believes. Specialties like bioinformatics, data science and machine intelligence could be especially important.

Cardon most recently lived and worked in California, but has an appreciation of the close-knit collaboration between Maine and its scientific community. “Maine and JAX,” he says, “are as intertwined as a double helix.”

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