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Hormel Institute dedication today

Published 10:19am Friday, October 3, 2008

The official dedication and grand opening of The Hormel Institute Expansion Project will be celebrated today in Austin, with 400 supporters in attendance. Leaders throughout the state will be present for The Hormel Institute Dedication, including The Hormel Foundation Chairman Richard L. Knowlton, Hormel Foods Corp. Chairman of the Board, President and CEO Jeffrey L. Ettinger, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks, Mayo Clinic Chief Executive Officer Dr. Glenn Forbes and Hormel Foods’ heir James Hormel. The medical research center, which focuses on cancer prevention and control, is part of the University of Minnesota and a collaborative partner of Mayo Clinic.

In 2006 the $23.4 million expansion project was launched, adding a new two-story research building for housing 20 state-of-the-art research laboratories. The project also completely renovated the 1960 building, resulting in space for a major seminar room to seat 140, library, several conference rooms, information technology space for the Blue Gene/L supercomputer, shared instrument rooms and complete updating of research support areas.

“The effects of The Hormel Institute Expansion are multi-dimensional,” said Richard L. Knowlton, Chairman of The Hormel Foundation and project leader. “It has strengthened partnerships between The Hormel Institute, the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic – known as the Bioscience Triad – improved science education within the Austin school system and enhanced the community and region. We believe this expansion is a starting point for continued growth and achievement for The Hormel Institute.”

Knowlton, former chairman of the board, president and CEO of Hormel Foods Corp., was the chief financial leader for the project. The expansion campaign broke several records for donations: The Hormel Foundation gave $13.4 million, Hormel Foods Corporation donated $5 million and the Austin and regional community gave $1.5 million. In addition, the City of Austin issued a $10 million bond and Mower County issued a $5 million bond to help the project. To fund street improvements for the project, The City of Austin donated an additional $512,000 to match a state Department of Employment and Economic Development grant.

“Hormel Foods and The Hormel Institute share a great history, and we are excited to be part of this momentous occasion,” Ettinger said.

“Paraphrasing the words spoken by H.H. Corey, former CEO of Hormel Foods at the dedication in 1949, we believe this expansion will continue to benefit all of mankind. We wait with anticipation along with the rest of the world to see what the group will discover.”

Fundraising continues for The Hormel Institute’s remaining research and technology needs. In the past year Mayo Clinic gave The Hormel Institute a historic gift of $5 million to strengthen their collaborative research partnership and the University of Minnesota gave the Institute nearly $4 million to support the hiring of world class faculty.

Dr. Forbes characterized The Hormel Institute collaboration as in keeping with the Mayo Clinic tradition of collaboration and the reason for the financial support.

“The Hormel Institute expansion is a welcome development, not only for Dr. Dong and his staff, but for all of their collaborators. Mayo is proud to be one of those collaborators and we look forward to continuing our relationship of scientific achievement.”

The University of Minnesota regards The Hormel Institute as one of the research units that will help the University reach its goal of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world within 10 years.

“The expansion of The Hormel Institute builds on the momentum of the past decade at the University of Minnesota,” said Robert Bruininks, president of the University of Minnesota. “Our state has the second most vibrant biomedical sciences corridor in the country, and the groundbreaking research conducted at The Hormel Institute and in our laboratories statewide will continue to make vital contributions to the treatment and prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases, as well as Minnesota’s economy and quality of life.”

Executive Director Zigang Dong’s successful leadership of The Hormel Institute led to the need for increased lab space and updated research facilities. During his 8 years as director, research funding was tripled and the number of employees doubled.

The Hormel Institute now has over 100 employees, most of which are research faculty. The expansion projected 100 new jobs will be added to the Institute over the next few years, with 40 already added since the project started in 2006. Two new department heads were hired in September from Columbia University and the University of Notre Dame, making a total of 9 separate cancer research departments within the center.

“The expansion marks an important and historic point of progress for The Hormel Institute,” said Dong. “We are making history not only because of the expansion resulting in this beautiful new building and our greater capacity to add more world class scientists — but also how these resources increase the potential of our research. Indeed it is our time to strive for the best contributions to science we can make.”


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