MDI Biological Lab names new president

BAR HARBOR — A professor at a German medical school who has been a member of the MDI Biological Laboratory faculty since 2007 has been named the research institution’s next president.

Hermann Haller will begin his appointment on July 26. He will succeed Kevin Strange, who will step down after serving in the role for nine years.

“Dr. Haller’s outstanding reputation as an international leader in kidney disease, hypertension and kidney and blood vessel regeneration, as well as his long association with the MDI Biological Laboratory, will be invaluable as we continue to build a world-class research program in the biology of regeneration and aging,” said Peter J. Allen, chair of the board of trustees.

“Haller is a well-respected leader and distinguished physician scientist,” Allen continued. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him in strengthening the research and educational programs at the MDI Biological Laboratory.”

Haller has been associated with the MDI Biological Laboratory for more than 20 years. He also is a full professor and chairman of the Division of Nephrology at the Hannover Medical School in Germany.

“The MDI Biological Laboratory has played an enormously important role in our understanding of kidney, cardiac, vascular and liver diseases over the last 120 years, and I look forward to working with the board, faculty, visiting faculty, staff and our many supporters in continuing to build on this extraordinary legacy as we seek to understand our ability to repair the damage caused by disease and injury,” Haller said.

Haller received his medical degree at the Free University of Berlin and completed his postdoctoral work at Yale University. He has published more than 700 peer-reviewed articles, holds six worldwide patents and has founded four biotech companies. He has received numerous honors and awards and serves on many advisory boards, including Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Genzyme and Novo Nordisk.

“I’m very pleased Hermann is taking the reins,” Strange said. “I know the faculty and staff are looking forward to working with him. Hermann is a great colleague and has been extremely supportive of my efforts over the last nine years to transform the MDI Biological Laboratory into a world-class research institution with a cutting-edge focus.”

“I am honored to build upon the tremendous work of Dr. Strange in strengthening the research and educational programs of the MDI Biological Laboratory,” Haller stated. “Thanks to his extraordinary efforts, we are well positioned as an international center in the fields of regenerative medicine and aging.”

Last spring, the MDIBL opened the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation, which was funded by a $3 million state bond issue. The goal, according to the lab, is “to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem for Maine that trains students to adapt to a rapidly changing job marketplace and provides entrepreneurs with the skills and resources to turn their ideas into successful businesses.” Helping researchers transition discoveries in the lab to the marketplace also was the topic of a 2015 forum.

The MDIBL is incubating several start-up companies on its campus. They include Coagulation Sciences, which is developing a testing system to help hospitals eliminate unnecessary blood transfusions, and RockStep Solutions, which develops information systems for biomedical laboratories.

Strange is expected to continue in an executive role with another of those companies, Novo Biosciences Inc. He co-founded Novo Biosciences with fellow MDIBL scientist Voot Yin in 2013, the first spinoff in the lab’s history. The company is studying the potential of a molecule that has been shown to stimulate the repair and regeneration of heart muscle in mice after a heart attack.

In 2016, he received $244,360 in compensation for his role as president of the MDIBL, according to tax records.

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