Inside Look at Jackson Labs, UConn Projects

By Jeff Saperstone
|  Thursday, Jan 30, 2014  |  Updated 8:49 PM EDT
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The massive bioscience construction projects going on at the Uconn Health Center in Farmington are on time and on budget

The massive bioscience construction projects going on at the Uconn Health Center in Farmington are on time and on budget

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The massive bioscience construction projects going on at the UConn Health Center in Farmington are on time and on budget, according to officials.

Project managers took NBC Connecticut on an exclusive tour inside the renovated research building which is attached the hospital as well as the massive Jackson Labs facility.

"It's going to be a very modern building showing who we are," said Zbig Lukomski, the facility manager for Jackson Labs.

The state-of-the-art facility is where researchers will study human genomes and conduct stem cell research. Jackson Labs, which has its headquarters in Bar Harbor, Maine is opening the facility on the UConn Health Center campus with help from the state.

$291 million was given to the lab. $192 is a forgivable construction loan and $99 million is for research grants.

"We are are on time, we are on budget," said Lukomski.

Much of the exterior of the building is complete. More than 200 construction workers are now feverishly working on the inside. They're building labs, classrooms and a spacious open air lobby with lots of windows.

"When we open the door in October of 2014 we expect to have over 100 employees occupying this building," said Yuhui Rogers, the site director for Jackson Labs.

There are currently 12 researchers already doing work at an off-site temporary location.

The UConn Health Center is also undergoing a massive renovation and expansion.

More than $500 million in state bonding funds is being spent to help with the construction of a new outpatient building, hospital town and renovation of the research building.

"You have to have the right facilities to attract the superstars," said Tom Trutter, an associate vice president at UConn Health Center.

Trutter gave NBC Connecticut an exclusive look at the new research space. Parts of the 1960s era building was gutted and new larger lab space is in its place.

"You can see that the corridors are much wider," said Trutter.

Dr. Annabelle Rodriguez moved from Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore because of the new research opportunities at UConn. She is working on targeted therapies for patients.

"The benefit of personalized medicine is to do better treatment," said Rodriguez.

She believes the state investment in the Farmington campus and biomedical research will have a big economic impact.

"There are really great jobs that could sustain neighborhoods and towns in Connecticut and elsewhere," said Rodriguez.

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