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UPDATE: Jackson Lab Announces Partnerships with FGCU, Calif. Genetic Testing Startup

The article has been updated with additional comments.

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Jackson Laboratory has announced a pair of agreements with research partners for work to be carried out within the 700-acre "biomedical research and education village" to be anchored by the laboratory near Naples, Fla.

Jackson Lab and Florida Gulf Coast University said they will explore areas of common interest, with the intent of matching areas of excellence and promise identified by FGCU with the strategic goals of The Jackson Laboratory.

"Possible programs of study at the university include: bioinformatics, genomics, and genetic counseling," Jackson Lab and the university said in a statement. "In addition, collaboration could lead to expansion of existing programs in clinical laboratory science and public affairs. The university also will consider potential programs of study in other areas related to personalized medicine."

In addition to new programs of study, collaborative research, sharing of resources, and internships, the partnership includes the possibility for Jackson Lab-Florida representatives to join FGCU advisory boards, the university and laboratory said.

“The Lab is interested in adjunct appointments for its faculty at FGCU and will benefit from students matriculating and graduating in bioinformatics and genetics,” Chuck Hewett, Jackson Lab’s vice president and chief operating officer, told GenomeWeb Daily News.

Last month an FGCU administrator spoke in favor of the Jackson Laboratory receiving a $130 million partial subsidy toward its planned personalized medicine campus in Florida's Collier County. The campus — to be built on 50 acres to be donated by developer Barron Collier Cos. — would anchor the biomedical village, envisioned as housing a mix of commercial, academic and research tenants.

The FGCU accord came two days after Jackson Lab announced its first corporate partner for the biomedical village.

Athleticode — a Larkspur, Calif., provider of personalized genetic testing and training programs for athletes seeking to reduce injury and enhance performance — said it will work with Jackson Lab to discover new indicators of genetic predisposition to injury.

"We intend to use this research to model athletic injury, such as repetitive head injury, as well as to understand how genetics shapes propensity to injury and responses to alternative therapies," James Kovach, Athleticode's president and co-founder, said in a statement issued by the company and laboratory.

Kovach also said Athleticode will build a database incorporating the genetic profiles of 10,000 athletes of all ages and skill levels, "and Florida is a great place to accomplish that goal."

Dale Carlson, a spokesman for Athleticode, told GWDN that Florida had the nation’s third largest concentration of athletes of any US state, after California and Texas — thousands of professional, college, and high school athletes — making the Sunshine State very suitable for the company’s research and database work.

“Those are the cohorts, if you will, that Athleticode is interested in, and so by the sheer number of athletes that are in Florida, it becomes a very attractive market, and it’s one where Athleticode expects to have a significant presence over time,” Carlson said.

Research that Athleticode plans to conduct with Jackson Lab would start at the laboratory’s existing facilities — either at Jackson’s headquarters campus in Bar Harbor, Maine., or its West Coast campus in Sacramento, Calif. Te research and corporate facilities Athleticode envisions for Florida would be in addition to its current facilities in California, Carlson said.

Because the partnerships are newly-formed, it is too early to tell how much space Athleticode or FGCU will occupy at the biomed village, Carlson and Hewett said.

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