Tuesday, November 23, 2010

N.C. Research Campus to get Trudeau?

Maybe I'm out of the loop (not that unrealistic), but I had never heard of Trudeau Institute before coming across this article. Nonetheless, it sounds like the thought of this institute having a location in Kannapolis is a big deal.

Are Trudeau Institute officials eyeing a state-of-the-art research campus in North Carolina as a possible site for expansion or relocation?

Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau thinks so.

Rabideau, in a guest commentary published in Friday's Enterprise, said "there's a buzz" that Trudeau will be sending its representatives to take a look the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, N.C.

"Now, like most buzzes, it may or may not be true," Rabideau wrote, "but Trudeau management say they need an urban research hospital environment like Kannapolis to get more federal funding, so it is believable. And, even if it isn't true, Saranac Lakers should still take its measure and gird for battle."

Rabideau told the Enterprise Friday that the tip that Trudeau is looking at the North Carolina site came to him from "a couple reliable sources." He declined to elaborate, although he said he was confident that his information is correct.

"I'd stake my reputation on this," he said. ...

Trudeau officials have recently launched a strategic planning process to study the Institute's options for future growth. Trudeau has hired the New England Consulting Group to evaluate several options, including expansion of the Institute's current facilities, building a new clinical research site out of state or leaving Saranac Lake for a new location. Institute officials have said they want to bring Trudeau scientists closer to a clinical research setting near a hospital or university in order to ensure the Institute remains competitive for federal funds.

The North Carolina Research Campus, built on a former site of a textile mill about 30 miles northeast of Charlotte, offers just that kind of setting. Initially founded by David H. Murdock, the former CEO of Dole Foods, the public-private venture is designed to foster collaboration and advancements in the fields of biotechnology, nutrition and health.

Research programs from seven University of North Carolina campuses as well as Duke University are represented at the campus, which has two newly constructed buildings and will eventually offer more than 1 million square feet of lab and office space. It also has a partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System, which owns a teaching and research hospital in Charlotte, according to the Tribune report.

Rabideau, in his commentary, called the research campus the "Land of Biotech Oz" and describes it as "our most fearsome competitor."


Anonymous said...

I am a current employee of Trudeau Institute. We are a small, independent, non-for-profit immunology research institute that is located in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York State, and currently employs approximately 130 individuals. We the employees of Trudeau Institute have always prided ourselves on our scientific mission to do basic research on infectious disease and immunity; not for monetary gain, but to make our discoveries publicly available to all in the form of peer-reviewed journal submissions. We are also quite proud of the unique character of our rustic, remote yet beautiful mountain town, and the particular history that our Institute shares with the village.

It appears that both things we cherish (our altruistic scientific mission and our eclectic setting) may soon change, as the Institute considers branching out into a more profit-driven direction (traditionally the territory of the Biotech industry) along with a move to the NCRC. Of course we've been told that nothing is certain, but such is always the case in scenarios like this. Recently there has been talk of "Strategic Planning" and a consulting group was hired to investigate the "health and vitality of our future." Publicly the officers deny that any decision has been made, and most employees are being kept in the dark. Meanwhile, many internal leaks from present and former high-ranking individuals have revealed that the Institute's financial situation is much worse than most realize, and it is highly unlikely that Trudeau Institute will remain in Saranac Lake. Thus, many believe that the consulting group was only hired to report what the real deciders want to hear, and to serve as a "non-biased" third party upon whom to place the blame. Rather than addressing staff concerns in a substantial way, everything is dismissed as rumor, and management cite confidentiality agreements as the reason that they can tell us no more. Most staff would be happy just to know if they will have jobs six months from now.

This all has created distrust and worry among the staff, who are losing confidence in the workplace that we always believed was more of a family than merely a job. Many employees are not thrilled about the prospect of relocating to a generic cookie-cutter work-complex Campus like the NCRC, where even the restaurants have science-themed names. Nor are many happy about our beloved Institute's scientific mission creeping ever closer to monetary motivations of Industry science.

M. Lail said...

Anonymous: thanks so much for sharing. Sounds like an interesting atmosphere, to say the least.