The MDI Biological Laboratory has received an award of nearly $18 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to continue work on strengthening biomedical research and training in Maine.

The grant will fund the renewal of the 18-year-old Maine IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program for another five years, according to a news release issued Thursday. Based in Bar Harbor, MDI is the founder and leader of the statewide network of 13 educational and research institutions.

Other network members include the University of Maine and The Jackson Laboratory, as well as undergraduate partner institutions Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, College of the Atlantic, Southern Maine Community College, the University of Maine Honors College, and UMaine at Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias and Presque Isle. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences is part of the National Institutes of Health.

“The renewal will allow us to continue a very successful program to create biomedical research and research training opportunities across the state, and especially among our undergraduate partner institutions,” said James Coffman, director of the network and an associate professor at MDI. “Maine INBRE provides opportunity where it does not otherwise exist.”

The goal of NIH’s IDeA (Institutional Development Award) program is to build research capacity in the 23 states and Puerto Rico that have historically low levels of NIH funding and lack a strong biomedical research infrastructure, the news release said.

The INBRE program focuses on creating a technically skilled workforce by providing biomedical research experiences and training to undergraduates and research support, and mentorship to young faculty members to increase their competitiveness for independent NIH funding, and by improving the states’ research infrastructure with state-of-the-art technology and technical expertise, it said.

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