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April 25, 2022

MDI Biological Lab offers shelter for Ukrainian scientists fleeing war

Courtesy / MDI Biological Laboratory Hermann Haller, new president of MDI Biological Laboratory, wants to support Ukrainian scientists fleeing the war.

The Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory said it plans to shelter scientists, research personnel, and their families fleeing the war in Ukraine.

As the ongoing war in Ukraine intensifies, MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor will join a growing movement to support the scientific and research community. Hermann Haller, president of the lab, has extensive experience working with Russian and Ukrainian scientists.

“We are an international institution. We have had Russian and Ukrainian scientists over the years. It’s our duty to demonstrate that there is solidarity and support and offer the international haven of science,” Haller told Mainebiz.

“Democracy is very important. We are against the war. We want to use our international solidarity to help,” said Haller, who has been president of the facility since 2018.

MDI Biological Lab routinely supports visiting researchers and scientists during its summer programs on its campus with housing facilities. It plans to use those small cottages on its campus to house two to three Ukrainian scientists and their families, Haller said.

Haller, a German citizen, maintains an appointment as a full professor in the Division of Nephrology at Hannover Medical School in Hannover, Germany. That city is also home to one of several distribution centers established throughout the country to welcome those fleeing the Russian attack.

Working with refugee centers in Berlin and Hannover to identify Ukrainian scientists seeking to come to the United States, the lab will support their travel and housing and work with U.S. immigration officials to pursue humanitarian parole.

“We know there are about 150 refugee families in the Boston area, but there are none in Maine so far. But we have this invitation advertised and they know how to reach us and we hope they come to Maine,” Haller said.

MDI Biological Laboratory has a longstanding reputation as a gathering place for international scientists conducting biomedical research, Haller said.

“The worldwide scientific community is an example of true international diplomacy. Scientific collaboration knows no geographic boundaries,” Haller said. “I would never have believed that this could happen in my lifetime. But after a long period of international collaboration, we are now fighting for democracy, self-determination, and scientific openness. It is imperative we do what we can to support the scientific community.” 

The MDI Biological Laboratory is pioneering regenerative medicine with the aim of developing drugs that activate the body’s natural ability to heal, and that slow age-related degenerative diseases. The lab has identified potential new therapies for heart disease, muscular dystrophy and nerve damage.

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