A renewed partnership

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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The University of Minnesota formally acknowledged a partnership between the university, The Hormel Institute and Mayo Clinic to pool resources for biomedical research Tuesday.

“Together we can provide the pathway to the kind of human health and human well being that the world deserves,” said U of M President Eric Kaler.

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The U of M already had partnerships with Mayo and The Hormel Institute, but the current agreement, ratified by Mayo and the Institute in January and February, cuts red tape between the groups and reorganizes The Hormel Institute board so Mayo, U of M and Institute researchers can work together on projects. Though there isn’t an immediate impact on Institute work, each group claims the partnership will strengthen cancer research and ease the process of turning medical discoveries into patient treatments.

“This is my lucky day,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Hormel Institute Executive Director. “It’s really, truly exciting for us.”

Dong said the partnership will help the Institute’s efforts for a second expansion, which is expected to bring at least 100 jobs, if not more, to Austin when completed. The Institute’s last expansion, done in 2008, doubled the Institute’s staff from 60 to 120 employees.

Officials say the partnership will help medical discoveries go from the research stage to the doctor’s office in order to improve global health.

“It’s a commitment to working together,” Dong said.

The Hormel Foundation intends to provide the research facility or facilities to house the partnership’s research and other activities, as well as provide ongoing operational and targeted funding for the Institute.

“This important collaboration will expand reach and capacity for both University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic at The Hormel Institute,” said Dick Knowlton, Foundation Chairman in a press release. “We are proud to make such major progress to support cancer research today.”

The new Hormel Institute Advisory Board features members from all three groups to help guide research into treatment.