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Connecticut governor seals deal for $1 billion genome lab

(Reuters) - Connecticut, eager to cultivate the bioscience industry, on Thursday sealed a deal for a $1.2 billion genomic lab that will be staffed by 600 scientists and technicians when it is completely developed in the next 20 years, Governor Dannel Malloy said.

The lab, to be developed and operated by the Jackson Laboratory, a nonprofit research center based in Bar Harbor, Maine, will focus on what is known as personalized medicine -- treatments that are tailored to an individual's specific set of genes, also called a genome.

Connecticut will contribute a $192 million construction loan that is forgiveable if certain conditions are met along with $99 million in grants. Jackson Laboratory, which specializes in genetics research, will be on the hook to raise $860 million from federal grants, donations and service income for the new center, called Jackson Laboratory Genomic Medicine.

Jackson Laboratory will collaborate on research with the UConn Health Center that is located in Farmington, which is where the new 250,000-square-foot lab will be built.

Connecticut is far from alone in seeking to create jobs by developing promising genomic treatments. New York City, for example, has launched a consortium of 11 academic medical centers to open a genomic center in the spring of 2012.

The Connecticut endeavor, expected to support 6,800 permanent jobs, requires Jackson Laboratory to give Connecticut Innovations -- a quasi-public state agency -- 10 percent of any net royalty proceeds from intellectual property up to $3 million and half of any net royalty proceeds above $3 million, starting in the 10th year.

In return for its help from the state, the new laboratory will put Connecticut residents at the top of the employment line, add at least 300 workers in 10 years, and pay them 125 percent of the average wage in the state.

The laboratory's loans will not be forgiven until those 300 workers have been hired and paid the required salaries for at least six months.

Hiring is expected to begin this quarter, and the governor, a Democrat, applauded the swiftness of the negotiations.

"The pace at which we were able to generate interest from a world-renowned research institute - which is what Jackson Laboratory is - speaks volumes about the potential that exists in our research triangle," Malloy said.

(Reporting By Joan Gralla; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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