Expanding cancer research

AUSTIN, Minn. – The Hormel Institute in Austin currently employs about 120 staff members who work every day to find a cure for cancer, but a new expansion that kicked off would double the size of the building and the staff.

The Hormel Institute is already home to world-class cancer research, but soon they will have more space to work with.

“We are editing some of what we are already doing, but on a bigger scale, also, we have a new kind of research as well,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of the Hormel Institute.

The $27 million expansion to the cancer research center will add 20 state-of-the-art laboratories and around 120 new jobs.

“We’ll continue our success of the basic research to try to find a way to cure cancer, but also, we’ll emphasize a lot of translation research, translate more of our knowledge to clinical trials,” Dong said.

Hundreds of state and local leaders were at the institute for the groundbreaking ceremony. One of those people was Governor Mark Dayton who said this project was near the top of the bonding bill list in 2012.

“The Hormel Foundation was going to put in half the money, the state put in the other half and that’s just very appealing, so strong bipartisan support from the very beginning. It’s not easy getting through the legislative process, but they did it very well and now we get to see what comes as fruition of that,” Dayton said.

Senators Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minnesota, and Al Franken, DFL-Minnesota, were in town as well. That is because they say it is important to recognize that the institute decided to take a non-traditional approach to cancer research and it is working.

Plus, they said it is in a community that fully supports what it is doing.

“The fact that there are fundraising drives going on throughout the year where regular citizens in Austin just say, I want to be a part of this too, I want to paint the town pink, I want to donate money, and you can see how this works when people believe in each other and believe that we can actually get a cure for cancer,” Klobuchar said.

The project is set to be finished in August of 2015.

In a separate project, they would also like to add a 250-seat lecture hall that would bring scientists in from around the world to share their research.

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