Hormel Institute takes next big step

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An artist’s rendering of the The Hormel Institute expansion. Photo provided

An artist’s rendering of the The Hormel Institute expansion. Photo provided

The next chapter has begun for The Hormel Institute.

With the help of state and regional leaders, the Hormel Institute was scheduled to break ground at around 1 p.m. Wednesday on its expansion to about double the size of the cancer research center and add 20 state-of-the-art laboratories.

The expansion will add space for the Institute’s International Center of Research Technology and add up to 120 jobs in the coming years.

Construction is being funded by $13.5 million from the state of Minnesota — via bonding funds approved in 2012 — and $13.5 million from the Hormel Foundation, which also committed an additional $9.5 million to recruit scientists and add more technology.

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Leading up to the expansion, the Herald conducted and emailed Q&A with The Hormel Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong.

ADH: How does it feel to finally start on the expansion after more than three years of work on the project?

DONG: We tripled in size in 2008, and to be doubling again in size this year is wonderful progress. We are thankful to our leaders and community for providing the resources needed so we can continue our mission to find answers to cancer.

ADH: As head of the Institute, what excites you most about the expansion?



DONG: Of course, it is the impact the expansion will have on our cancer research. With additional labs and the ability to continue to hire world-class scientists, our cancer research will be enhanced greatly. That is always our mission: To accelerate discoveries that can and will improve human health.

ADH: How will the Institute expansion benefit Austin? What community benefits do you see from the expansion?

DONG: The expansion benefits Austin first by accelerating discoveries that impact health — that is the most important benefit. Additionally, there are economic and social benefits from having new jobs created for our area. Businesses will have more people buying their products and services. Socially, there are also benefits, such as our researchers helping encourage interest in science among students or the college internships we provide every summer.

ADH: How will the expansion benefit Minnesota?

DONG: The expansion and support of bioscience and medical research helps Minnesota continue to be one of the world leaders in these globally recognized industries. First, expanded research means new health discoveries that serve all people, everywhere. Economically, the expansion is a building project that creates jobs, especially new research jobs that do not take away from other industries. It also opens up commercialization opportunities.

ADH: How will this expansion compare to the last one in terms of impact on the Institute?

DONG: It continues the path we have been on which is to hire world-class scientists and provide them with the labs and technologies they need to perform cutting-edge cancer research.

ADH: How does the Institute feel about the local support for the expansion efforts?

DONG: The Hormel Institute is a collaborative effort. We are all deeply thankful for the support we are faithfully given from The Hormel Foundation, our community and our state. Cancer affects everyone, and the research that leads to prevention and healthier therapies is a mission that will take everyone working together to achieve. We indeed are “coming together for the cure.”

ADH: With this expansion, where do you see the Institute in 10 to 20 years?

DONG: The long-term vision for The Hormel Institute is continued growth to support research that improves the health of the world. I see a growing campus, with more research jobs, more commercialization discoveries and more advances in our research that help prevent cancer and extend lives.

See Thursday’s Herald for full coverage of the groundbreaking.

Artist rendering of the Hormel Institute expansion.  Photo provided

Artist rendering of the Hormel Institute expansion.
Photo provided