The Harold Alfond Foundation is donating $8.4 million to The Jackson Laboratory to assist in its efforts to enhance cancer diagnostics and treatment in Maine.

Gregory Powell, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, said in a news release that Jackson Lab is uniquely positioned to apply more than 86 years of expertise in cancer research to the improvement of cancer care in the state.

“We are delighted to partner with the laboratory to improve the health of the people in Maine,” Powell said.

Most American cancer patients get their care at community hospitals, in rural or suburban settings, which is especially true in Maine, said Dr. Edison Liu, the laboratory’s president and CEO and director of its cancer center.

“Thanks to the vision of the Harold Alfond Foundation, and, working in collaboration with MaineGeneral Medical Center and its Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care, (the laboratory) will work to ensure that all Maine cancer patients and their physicians have access to precision cancer care using the latest advances in genetic technologies, allowing them to determine the best treatment for a particular cancer,” said Liu in the release.

A spokeswoman for the lab said details about how the money will be used will be released over the next several months, but the lab is “working in close collaboration with the Maine-based oncologist community regarding the optimal approach for achieving our shared goal to advance cancer diagnostics and treatment in Maine.” The contract between the foundation and the lab was signed in May.

Founded in 1950, the Harold Alfond Foundation furthers the philanthropic legacy of Harold Alfond, the founder of Dexter Shoe Co. and a longtime supporter of Maine communities in which he and his family worked and resided. Consistent with Harold Alfond’s own philanthropic principles, the foundation favors education, health care, youth development and other selected charitable causes.

Founded in 1929 as one of the world’s first cancer genetics research institutions, The Jackson Laboratory has a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center with a cancer research faculty at its Bar Harbor headquarters campus and at its genomic medicine laboratory in Farmington, Connecticut.

The laboratory has recently expanded its efforts to include translational and clinical genomics research and advanced genomics diagnostics tools for oncologists and their patients.

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