Jackson Laboratory Expands Operation In China

Jackson Laboratory
The sign outside the Jackson Labs in Bar Harbor, Maine. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Tim1357)

The Bar Harbor-based biomedical research institute, Jackson Laboratory, is expanding its operations in China. The country now plays a huge role in genetic research to cure diseases.

Biochemical researchers from all over the globe flocks to China despite criticisms on intellectual property because it is handing out millions of funds for research and it also offers easy access to medical data on its massive population.

The company allows the members of its research staff to collaborate with other scientists at Chinese academic institutions on grant-funded research projects.

The company also builds a distribution network in China for the distribution of its genetically modified laboratory mice. Jackson Laboratory was founded in 1929. It is a non-profit research institution and it is considered as the largest supplier of lab mice that are specially bred for scientific experiments. The funds for the research arm of the company came mostly from the sales of mice and through grants.

Analysts believe that China provides tremendous opportunities to conduct genetic research that could be beneficial to improvements in global health.

However, they also see some risk with it. Analysts cited that scientific ethics standards are not yet on par with other developed nations. They also claimed that China has a poor record when it comes to intellectual property protection.

Ken Fasman, the senior vice president of research at Jackson Lab, said that there has been "an explosion of biomedical research" in China since the country set its sights on becoming a world leader in certain critical areas of science, including genetic research, in recent years.

Mr. Fasman noted that China is catching up fast and could even eclipse the U.S. in annual research spending within the next 10 to 20 years.

He also said that the rapid increase of investment at the national and regional level in China far exceeds anything in the West. According to him, if you want to be involved in the global community of biomedical research, you need to be paying attention to what's going on in China.

The huge population of China and its centralized health care system provides a high possibility for researchers to readily access medical data on tens of millions of patients.

The current population of China is currently around 1.4 billion and the government provides for the health care of its people. Mr. Fasman said that it means that researchers in China studying even the rarest of diseases will have a much better chance of accessing statistically relevant amounts of human data.

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